Putting the screws to it

Just now, we attached the top to our tabouret with screws through the underside.  But it’s harder than it might look.  The bottom framework gets in the way, so you can’t use the superior torque that a brace might provide, nor will it be easy to get a power drill in there.  So you’re left with a simple screwdriver and some crossed fingers when you put it all together.  But there’s a way to make it slightly less onerous task.

First, drill the proper size pilot hole.  One that’s too small will only bind everything up.  I use tapered drill bits that are sized to the common screw sizes, but if you don’t have them, or are dealing with a wonky size, here’s a chart that will help you find the proper size.  A word of warning, though.  Those dimensions are for steel screws.  Brass screws need slightly larger holes, due to their less resilient character.

Second, lubricate your screws.  I just dab them about a quarter of their length into an old can of paste wax.  It makes a much bigger difference than you might think.

Next, use a tightly fitting screwdriver.  Now, I’ll assume that you’re using the proper screws here.  Avoid Phillips screws like the plague because they will quickly strip out.  If you’re doing something “contemporary” I guess you could use Torx or Robertson (square drive) screws because at least they’ll stand up to the torque.  But for my money, a slotted screw is the way to go, especially on a reproduction piece like this.  That said, you need to make sure to use a screwdriver that fits exactly.  Using the tapered hardware store screwdriver is just asking for trouble.  For my money, I don’t bother with anything than the Brownells Magna-Tips.

Last, and another reason I really like my Magna-Tip set, is to cheat if you can.  My Drill Instructor once told me that “If you aren’t cheating, you’re not trying.”.  And he had a point.  The 1/4″ hex shaft has a nice little side effect that a 1/4″ wrench will fit right over it.  Then, you can use the much-amplified leverage with one hand to turn the screw, and the other hand to press the screwdriver into the slot, preventing it from camming out and munging up your screw heads.  Works like a charm.

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