Buying Historical Wood Screws for Woodworking
Screws are required for attaching hardware, like hinges and locks to your furniture, and attaching wood to wood. And nothing looks more ugly (in my opinion) than using shiny, zinc-coated Phillips head screws. This photo below illustrates how lovely furniture looks with historical slotted wood screws.
Wood screws are usually the fastener of choice for attaching hardware, but how about for fastening pieces of wood together? Although screws are usually stronger at holding wood together, I personally think that historical wrought nails or cut nails look better.
But on the other hand screws are reversible, whereas wrought and cut nails are often pretty hard to remove. So you just need to decide on which type of fastener is best for your particular furniture project at hand. I usually just stick with using nails for holding two pieces of wood together (like attaching moldings, backs of cupboards, the bottoms of chests & boxes, and the tops of case pieces, clenching, etc.) and use screws for hardware…unless I choose to use really old hardware that requires “clenching”. Clenching is where you drive an old nail through the two pieces of wood, bend a hook on the point, and drive it back into the wood. I also often hang furniture on the wall with screws, because it’s removable.
Where can you find historical-style slotted screws?
If you’re attaching quality brass hinges, then slotted brass screws usually come with the hinges. But most non-brass hardware either comes with no screws, or ugly Phillips head screws that have shiny zinc coating on them. This will stand out on your lovely furniture like a huge pimple on a beauty queen. So where can you find antique style slotted screws? You can certainly try buying antique slotted screws, but I’ve found most of them to be rusted. Rust on nails usually isn’t a big deal, but I’ve found that rust on antique screws means that the thin threads weaken and often flake off. Some companies sell vintage screws (that have been used) and “new old stock” screws, which have never used. Usually these are large quantities of screws found in an old factory. I have friends who shop at some of these online stores, but I personally feel like I have a better option.
I buy new slotted steel wood screws and strip the zinc coating off of them. And they look exactly like the “new old stock” screws that some of the companies sell, and usually better. In fact, I’m almost certain that one of the companies is just buying new screws and stripping the zinc coating off of them, and selling them for a lot more money as “new old stock wood screws”.
You can read my article and watch my video titled: “Make Historical Wood Screws Using Toilet Bowl Cleaner“. I usually buy a bunch of different sizes of slotted wood screws, and do bulk zinc removal.
This method only takes a few minutes, and the resulting screws look amazing. Oh yeah, and they are much more affordable than “new old stock” slotted wood screws. Just make sure you keep them oiled, to prevent rusting, and use appropriately-sized flat head screw drivers, like these amazing Grace USA screwdrivers (which can be found here):