One of the first times I was a guest on Roy Underhill’s “The Woodwright’s Shop,” I was explaining the construction of a schoolbox from the book “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker,” and I had made a terrible mistake.
Before we shot the show, Roy explained each shot to the crew that was filming it. He opened the lid to the chest and told them to get a close-up shot of the strap hinges on the inside. Roy stopped. He twisted his lips. He closed the lid.
“Nah, don’t shoot that. He used Phillips screws to attach the hinges,” Roy said.
Huh? I don’t remember using modern screws. But when I lifted the lid I saw that Roy was correct. I had ordered iron pyramid-head screws with a black finish, but they indeed had a cross-recess on them.
The following statement is pure opinion, but I don’t like to see modern screw heads on furniture that is built in an antique style. It’s like using a plywood back in a reproduction of a 17th-century cupboard.
The problem is finding good screws. I inherited a huge supply of them from my grandfather’s workshop, who apparently thought along similar lines. Recently, my supplies have been running low. So I’ve been buying zinc-plated screws from my hardware store and then stripping the zinc using citric acid. This works, but chemistry isn’t my bag.
So I was thrilled to learn about BlacksmithBolt.com, which sells old-school unplated fasteners – including stuff you’ll never find at a typical hardware store. I went on a buying binge and restocked my cabinet of fasteners with slotted screws of all sizes and lengths.
Despite the fact that the fasteners shipped from the West Coast, they arrived surprisingly fast. And I am quite pleased with the quality. Unlike the junk at the home centers, these fasteners are strong and can be driven into hardwood without worrying about the head snapping or the slot becoming completely chewed up.
So if you are in need of fasteners that look right for a reproduction or something in a pre-20th-century style, check out BlacksmithBolt.com before you attach that cabinet back on with PoziDrive screws. Shudder.
— Christopher Schwarz
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