best wood screws

The correct size, length, and gauge of best wood screws for table legs can be difficult to determine when building woodworking projects. Besides, to find the right woodworking screws, we need to focus on numerous factors, including the screw sizes, materials, head types and more. Fortunately, if you are a beginner, there are still some general guidelines you can follow that will help you purchase the right screw type and turn every table into a stable piece of art.

table leg screws

Common wood screw sizes for your DIY projects

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Common Sizes Wood Screws for Table legs

screws for table legs

Common sizes wood screws for dining table legs 

  • Head-bore size refers to the diameter of the table leg screws head.
  • Shank-hole size refers to the diameter of the smooth part of the table screws above the threads.

Note: All sizes, except for gauges, are in inches.

Choosing Length, Gauge, and Pilot Holes

Knowing the basic factors behind the technology of wood screws simplifies the process of choosing the right screw types for your tabletop.

  • Length: This is one of the most important factors to consider when buying wood screws for your project. A suitable screw size is neither too short nor too long. If you want to assemble two wood boards together, a too short screw may cause loss of stability. In contrast, if a wood screw is too long it may affect the finished look when protruding from the other side of your wood slab.
  • Thickness (gauge): Wood screws must be thick enough to grab onto the two boards. If they are too thin, your woodworking screws may pull out of the wood slab. If the table screws are too thick, it may split the wood, rendering it useless.
  • Pilot holes: Hardwoods (oak or walnut) are inclined to splitting, while softwoods such as cedar or pine are less susceptible to this issue. Drilling a pilot hole in hardwoods with a regular bit or with a countersink bit before driving the screw is usually a good idea.

However, wood screws gain power by friction and by the pressure of wood fibers gripping the threads. Making a pilot hole may reduce the grip around your screw threads. That’s why keeping wood fibers can significantly enhance the stability of your wood screws.

What are the Best Wood Screws?

what screws to use for table legs
Choosing the best screws for wood furniture
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Here are some popular and recommended wood screw brands:

GRK Fasteners

If you want to find wood screws that can reduce splitting and offer excellent holding power, GRK Fasteners’s products will be worthwhile options. Their screws are well-known with innovative designs and self drilling features.

SPAX

SPAX screws provides durable and stable products. Their screw designs come with unique threads which allow for smoother, faster installation and remarkable holding capabilities.

Simpson Strong-Tie

Simpson Strong-Tie is well regarded for their impressive wood constructions as well as high quality woodworking screws. You can find a broad range of options that may be suitable for various DIY projects on their website.

FastenMaster

For a fast and secure installation process, you can choose FastenMaster. Their screws are designed with anti splitting features and special coatings for outdoor projects.

Kreg

This company specializes in the pocket-hole joinery systems. They offer screws with strong connections for your woodworking projects.

DeckMate

For outdoor projects, you need to use specialized screws to prevent corrosion over time. Deckmate offers products with weather-resistant coatings that are durable and can withstand environmental conditions.

Screw Heads and Materials, Which Should You Choose?

what size wood screws to use
Which is the best screw type for your wooden furniture?
Credit: Flowyline Design

Selecting the appropriate screws for table legs depends on each project as well as your specific needs and requirements. In the next part, we will learn about different types of screw heads, materials, and sizes.

Types of Screw Heads

Phillips-Head Wood Screws

When using a screwdriver, screws with Phillips heads are one of the go-to choices. However, with the prevalence of cordless drill/drivers and pocket drivers, other options have emerged. The Phillips head is still reliable but may be prone to bit slippage and metal stripping.

Phillips-Head
Phillips-head wood screws for screwdrivers
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Quadrex Drive Wood Screws

The Quadrex head combines the square (Robertson) and Phillips head designs. This screw type provides a larger surface area that allows for higher torque application. It is also a great choice for driving-intensive purposes such as framing or deck building.

Quadrex
Quadrex drive wood screws for higher torque application
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Torx (Star Drive) Wood Screws

The torx (star drive) head is especially suitable for enhancing the efficient power transfer between your driver and screws. This screw type can also minimize the wear on the bits. That’s the reason why it’s usually chosen for projects that require a large screw number. Torx (star drive) head is known as "security fasteners" and is widely used in schools, public construction, and electronics production.

torx
You can use torx (star drive) screws to minimize the wear on the bits
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Pan Head Sheet Metal Wood Screws

These types of wood screws are particularly suitable for spots that don’t need to be flush with the wood surface. Offering a wider head as well as thread that extends the entire length, pan head sheet metal wood screws is an ideal choice for joining wood to other types of materials, such as metal.

Pan head screws
Pan head screws are suitable for joining wood to other materials
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Choosing the Right Material

best screws for furniture
The best screw material for your DIY project
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Consider whether the table screws will be used indoors or outdoors:

Steel Screws

For years, steel screws have become one of the most popular options in woodworking due to their strength and versatility. You can screw them directly into the wood without creating a pre-drilled pilot hole. Types coated with zinc and other materials are resistant to corrosion. However, uncoated steel screw types can rust in moist environments.

Stainless Steel Screws

Stainless steel screws come in many head types to fit a variety of purposes as well as wood materials. They are also long-lasting, highly resistant to corrosion, and specially suitable for outdoor buildings. However, this screw material is more expensive than regular types. Stainless screws are also softer than other types, which may lead to potential stripping if overtightened.

Brass Screws

If you are looking for a screw type that has an attractive visual effect, brass wood screws will be a great choice. Due to its excellent corrosion resistance, you can also use this screw material for both indoor and outdoor projects.

Indoor Use

For indoor projects, you can opt for less expensive zinc screws or select materials and coatings based on visual appeal.

Outdoor Use

If you want to use screws outdoors, choosing types that are resistant to corrosion (caused by moisture and temperature changes) is the most important step. Silicon-coated bronze and stainless steel screws are usually chosen for outdoor furniture because of their remarkable durability and longevity.

Tips for Installing a Wood Screw

Selecting the Right Size

While choosing wood screw sizes, there are two main factors to consider:

Length

Your screw length needs to penetrate not less than half of the depth of the wood piece. For example, you can choose screws with 3/4" depth for 2x4 lumber.

Diameter or Gauge

We can find screws with a wide range of gauges (from 2 to 16). For basic purposes, #8 screws will be suitable for general DIY projects. For thicker or heavier materials, consider using #12-14 screws. For fine woodworking, #6 screws are often the best choice.

Lateral vs. Withdrawal Loads

When choosing wood screws, thread driven is also a crucial factor to consider. With a suitable type, your screw will be attached to the wood tightly. The appropriate length of wood screw depends on the lateral and withdrawal that will be applied to the wood pieces.

  • Lateral loads: If the forces apply lateral pressure, choosing a thicker screw will be a good choice. While attaching two flat wood boards to each other, sliding motion will appear. For example, when you screw a kitchen wall cabinet to the wall studs, you will clearly feel the lateral (sheer) pressure.
  • Withdrawal loads: You need to make sure the screw threads are tightly inserted into the receiving board when your project requires an appropriate strength to keep your wood boards from pulling straight apart. Always try to get at least 1 to 1 1/2 inches of thread into the receiving board. This assumes, of course, that this length of the table screws will not poke through the opposite side of the board. If you use shorter screws, compensating the wood boards by driving more wood screws is a must.

Utility Screws vs. Steel Screws

Wood screws come in two basic types: utility screws (generally called deck screws) and steel or stainless steel screws.

Utility screws are usually chosen for frame building or outdoor woodworking projects. You can easily find screws which are sold by length in nearby stores. They come with different types of steel (normal or corrosion resistant materials). Higher quality kinds can be effective against chemicals in treated lumber.

Wood screws made of steel and stainless steel are thicker than other types. You can use them for precision woodworking projects or other indoor furniture. They are classified by their length and gauge (the thickness of the screw shaft). Larger gauge numbers offer thicker shafts. While utility wood screws are usually produced with #8 and #10 gauge, steel woodworking screws have a much wider range of gauge diameter.

Wood Grain Orientation

The wood grain orientation on the receiving board is what will determine the quantity of wood screws as well as their length. Generally, we don’t need long screws when attaching two wood boards across the grain (except when choosing wood screws for end grain areas). When screwing into the end grain, aim for at least two inches of thread in the board.

If you’re building a common project, #8 diameter deck type screws can be used effectively. You can also choose 1-1/4 inch screws for basic projects which don’t require too much strength and 3/4 inch screws for attaching thick wood boards across the natural grain. Keep some 2 1/2-inch deck screws for screwing into end grain, plus some stronger 3-inch screws for attaching into end-grained boards, or when a little extra added power is needed. Finally, if there will be a lot of sheer strength needed, you can opt for some 1/4-inch diameter lag screws.

No matter whether inserting screws into end grain or cross-grained boards, many experts and skilled do-it-yourselfers always opt to drill pilot holes with a special countersink pilot bit. This bit type can drill a wider counter-sink and allow the screw head to sink flush with the wood surface.

Cleo End Table Legs
How to choose screws based on wood grain orientation?
Credit: Flowyline Design

Knowing different types of screw heads, materials and sizes, now you can confidently select the best wood screws for a specific project. Besides the right types, other factors such as strength, durability, visual appeal and the intended use (indoor or outdoor setting) are also the key elements to ensure the stability and longevity of a woodworking project.

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