Most cabinetry projects start with the choice of wood. This process not only has much to do with determining the look and feel, but also the price, strength and durability of the finished piece.

That’s because few other materials can compete with the classic elegance of wood cabinets. The color, texture and pattern vary greatly among the different options with all playing a dramatic role in the finished room’s beauty. For instance, cherry is a favorite of antique collectors due to its dark reddish brown tint, while mahogany is often chosen for its rich and classy aesthetics.

Unfortunately, there is a key component of cabinetry that is many times overlooked. The selection of the proper fastener and fastening method are crucial for tightly binding joints as well as ensuring long-term usability.

Amongst all the alternatives, screws offer the cleanest finish and securest form of fastening compared to nails and bolts.

This is due to the ability of their threads to firmly grip the wood with far more power and establish an especially strong torque between the connected wood pieces and screw head – a very important feature should the wood warp at a future date. Since screws are installed with a twisting motion, the destructive pounding that accompanies nails driven by a hammer is also eliminated. Furthermore, most quality screw products are simple to remove, adjust and reinstall unlike adhesives.

However, given all the varieties in the market today, it can be difficult for users to select the appropriate screw for the application. As a result, length, gauge, head shape, finish and fastening requirements should all be primary concerns when selecting the right screw for the job.

  1. As a general rule, screws should be three times as long as the thickness of the workpiece being fastened. For example, a 1-inch-thick board should be fastened with a screw that's at least 3 inches long so that one-third of the screw passes through the first board and the remaining drives approximately two-thirds of the way of the second to securely hold both pieces together. Ideally, the fastener should always go as deep into the second board as possible without it protruding through the back end.
  2. Then, select the smallest gauge screw that will provide the needed holding power. Gauge is measured above the threaded section along the smooth portion of the shank. The higher the gauge, the thicker the screw and the stronger the holding power.
  3. A common choice for many cabinet makers is a multipurpose screw that works equally well with both hard and soft woods and even chipboard and plywood. For instance, Gold Star Zinc Coated Star Drive Wood Screws from Screw Products offers a triple zinc coating on high-quality, heat-treated hardened steel to offer long-term durability and corrosion resistance. It is also designed with a Type 17 notched extra sharp point that starts quickly without walking to reduce the need for predrilling. In addition, the tiny cut on the screw’s deep, wide, sharp threads cut cleanly through fibrous material to greatly reduce the torque needed to drive the fastener, while still providing maximum holding power. Plus, they are both removable and reusable.
  4. Above all else, always choose the products of a quality manufacturer that stands behind its product line. The time and cost associated with fasteners that slip, strip or sheer or even delaminate over the course of time are not worth the value of making the right choice the first time and enjoying the finished cabinet’s beauty for decades.

Jim Miller is president & CEO of Screw Products, Inc. For more information please visit or call (877) 844-8880.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.