Understanding the Screw

Fasteners Inc

The screw may be the most recognized fastenerUnderstanding the Screw around. And while we might all know what a screw is, understanding the screw and its history may not be top of mind. Our experts at Fasteners, Inc. in Denver can explain the background of all fasteners, including the screw.

Screws are threaded fasteners. The threads (or grooves) of the screw can run right handed or left, tapered, straight, or parallel. There are basically two types of screws, machine screws and wood screws. They are made of metal. The machine screw has a constant diameter and joins with nuts while the wood screw is tapered at the end to grip to the actual wood surface.

The encyclopedia.com website details the history of the screw.

The screw has been around a long time. Some estimate it dates back to around 200 B.C. But the screws then didn’t look like today’s screws. They had to be handmade, so they were all slightly different. This took a lot of time to hand-file the threads. In 1586, Jacques Besson, the court engineer for Charles IX of France, made the first screw-cutting machine which led the way for more innovations.

In 1760, Job and William Wyatt, two English brothers, filed a patent for the first automatic screw-cutting device which could cut 10 screws per minute and was thought to be one of the inventions that led to mass production machinery.

During the early nineteenth century, Englishman Henry Maudslay produced the method of screw manufacturing that is still used today. His machine became the first power-driven, screw-cutting lathe. The screw gained importance as a connecting device with the beginning of the industrial revolution.

In America, David Wilkinson also built a screw-cutting lathe and got the first American screw patent. In 1845, Stephen Finch developed a turret lathe, and soon after the Civil War, Christopher Walker invented a fully automatic lathe.

What about the first screw factory? Abom and Jackson was opened in Rhode Island in 1810. Eighty-five years later the American screw makers started forming unions and demanding a minimum wage of $1.75 per their ten-hour day. John E. Sweet devised the angular thread-cutting method to cut an entire thread from one side, which improved efficiency.

We no longer use machine screws, instead, we use thread rolling which was invented in 1836 by American William Keane. Not entirely a success at first because they used a low grade of iron causing the screws to split during the die-cutting process. The thread-rolling process was developed because they needed to mass produce screws that were less expensive. It eventually became a better process.

Today we use low to medium steel wire, although sometimes cheaper metals like stainless steel, brass, nickel alloys, or aluminum alloy are used. To avoid cracking, it is important to use quality metal. Steel can be coated or plated with zinc, cadmium, nickel, or chromium for extra protection.

The screw has changed a lot from the handmade wooden screw of the old days. Most people have no idea how the screw contributed to the development of American and the industrial revolution. Our experts at Fasteners, Inc. in Denver have a hard time imagining what we would do today without understanding the screw and using it in almost every project.

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