Self-tapping screws are a common type of fastener used on the job site that can make your life easier. When used correctly, they can save you time and a potential headache when fastening materials.

To get the most out of self-tapping screws, you’ll need to understand how they work and which types to use in certain circumstances. 


Let’s dive into what self-tapping screws are and how to use them. 


What is a Self-Tapping Screw?

Self-tapping screws are special screws that tap their own threads as they’re fastened into various materials. This tapping process helps to keep materials secure. Self-tapping screws can be found in various drive types. However, the most common are Phillips and slotted. 

Self-tapping screws are best used in applications where an object is going to be disassembled and reassembled on a regular basis. One example of this is a piece of machinery that requires consistent maintenance.  Contrary to self-drilling screws, a self-tapping screw requires a pilot hole to be drilled first. 


Types of Self-Tapping Screws

There are two primary types of self-tapping screws: Thread-forming screws and thread-cutting screws. These screws are classified by the way that they tap into the material. 


Thread-forming self-tapping screws

Thread-forming self-tapping screws displace the material to form threads inside the object. Because they don’t remove any material, thread-forming self-tapping screws are best used in applications where the screws will be loosened more frequently. 

However, thread-forming self-tapping screws are only usable on softer materials that are malleable enough to form threads, such as soft steel or aluminum. 


Thread-cutting self-tapping screws
As the name suggests, thread-cutting self-tapping screws cut their threads into the material. These screws have cutting edges built into the screws themselves to punch out a thread and secure the material. 

Thread-cutting self-tapping screws are more versatile than their thread-forming counterparts and can be used on various materials, including various metals and even wood. They make a perfect fit with their cutting edges, creating additional vibration resistance. 


How To Use Self-Tapping Screws

The first thing you’ll need to do when using self-tapping screws is to mark your screw position. You’ll also need to make sure that you have enough room to get to the desired area with a screwdriver or a drill.

Next is to drill the pilot hole. It’s often recommended to drill a hole slightly smaller than the screw you’re going to use. This allows the self-tapping screw to better do its job by forming the thread inside the hole. 

Start the screw with a turn or two by hand to keep the screw in place while you reach for your screwdriver or drill. Fasten the screw using firm, controlled movements, and make sure that the screw is going in straight and not at an angle. 

It’s also important to never over-tighten a self-tapping screw. Self-tapping screws can easily strip if they’re overtightened. 



Get Your Self-Tapping Screws from Tanner

Tanner has a wide selection of self-tapping screws available with different points, diameters, and more. Shop our collection today.


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View the Tanner Self-Drilling Product Selection Guide to Find the Best Screw for the Job.