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One simple trick to prevent cross-threading any screw.

Just this morning I was tightening up a small screw on some electronics components (our house security system). In my hurry to finish the job so I could go and get a coffee, I ended up jamming the screw. So I forced it (because that will fix it right?). Totally cross-threading the whole thing into a nasty mess.

What is cross-threading? It occurs when the threads of the screw shift off centre and cut into the female threads of a threaded hole or nut. If forced it will likely damage the threading of the screw or the thing it is screwing into.

I am an expert in this.

So now I have discovered a simple trick to greatly reduce the probability of cross-threading any screw. I cannot believe I did not know this already, and I am sharing it here….just in case you are equally ignorant.

How to do it:

  1. Place the screw in the hole.
  2. Seat the screwdriver into the screw.
  3. Turn the screw gently the WRONG WAY (counterclockwise) until you feel a tiny ‘bump‘ and hear a sound. This is the screw dropping into the correct position.
  4. NOW proceed to tighten the screw in the correct direction.

Simple!

As I said, I can’t believe I didn’t know this already.
But alas… I did not.
A couple of other commonsense tips for smooth screwing include:

Selecting the correct screwdriver: don’t try to use a flathead screwdriver to install a Phillips head screw etc.

Size does matter: you want to select a screwdriver that properly ‘fills up’ the head of the screw. Not too big. Not too small. That is, it sits neatly in both depth and width of the socket. The Goldilocks principle.

Alignment of the screwdriver: Keep the screwdriver directly in line with the screw. That is the shaft of the screwdriver directly over the head of the screw. This prevents slippage and damage to the screw.

Don’t overscrew: a properly fastened screw will require just enough torque to make it snug but not so tight that your screwdriver is slipping out of the head of the screw.

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