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Woodworking industry drives fastener manufacturers toward winning combination.


In the race to stay competitive by producing a quality product that can stand the hard knocks of end users, the woodworking industry is constantly challenging fastener manufacturers to produce fasteners with superior holding strength and quick, easy installation. Screws, nails, staples, dowels and joints have long been considered industry standards and although these fastening systems are still widely used in the woodworking industry, fastener manufacturers are developing new technology to accelerate fastening products beyond industry expectations.

Disadvantages of fastening systems of the past are as numerous as the different types of fasteners. Joints and dowels require precise machining to fit properly and take time to dry, while fasteners like screws, nails and staples can have poor holding properties or cause marring of the surface. Manufacturers are now offering alternative solutions or improvements on existing systems to eliminate these problems.

High-performance holding power

Since fastener categories vary, manufacturers have different ways of meeting their goal of superior holding strength. "For screw manufacturers, increased holding strength in wood is achieved with deeper, assymetrical threads," said James Ray, president of McFeely's Square Drive Screws in Lynchburg, Va. "Generally, solid wood screws have 14 threads per inch while particleboard screws need 8 to 10 threads per inch. The reason for wider threads in particleboard screws is to give better gripping power because particleboard may crumble around finer threads."

RTA furniture manufacturers are benefiting from cam fasteners, a 30-year-old European fastening system that has steadily been gaining popularity in America. The fasteners only require the RTA consumer to insert the bolt pin into the cam and rotate the cam 180 [degrees] to tighten it.

"Since the wood dowel is replaced by a steel dowel, the corner stability is at least the same as using wood dowels," said Karl Heinz Kraft, product manager at Hafele America Co.

Plate joining systems using beechwood biscuits have gained increased attention from woodworkers because they offer a stronger bond than dowels, according to Bob Jardinico, head of woodworking sales at Colonial Saw. "Biscuits offer twice the strength of an 8mm dowel," he said. "With dowels, as little as 50 percent of the dowel is in contact with long fibers. Since all of a biscuit is long fiber, gluing area is 100 percent. Plus, the surface area of a biscuit is roughly twice that of a dowel. The biscuits are stamped with a waffle pattern and expand when wetted down with glue. Remember to store them in a dry area, because they expand a good 10 percent when they get wet."

Threaded inserts have become popular because they are an affordable way to increase holding strength in units that require assembly and disassembly, like RTA furniture. "Bolts and threaded inserts rely on metal to metal contact, instead of metal to wood contact," said Bob Silk, division manager for E-Z Lok. "After removing and inserting a screw several times into wood, the hold will begin to deteriorate."

Increasing the speed limit

Not only are today's fastening systems required to have improved strength qualities, but fasteners must also be easy to install and cost-efficient. For the common screw, the Robertson square drive screw, has been winning over component manufacturers because the square insert requires less torque to drive and remove, according to Vernon Brady, vice president of Quik Drive.

"Where it takes 20 lbs of down pressure to drive a Phillips head screw, it only takes 3 lbs of down pressure to drive a Robertson square drive. And driving bits last three to five times longer," he said. Developed in Canada in 1908, the recent popularity has caused a boom for suppliers in America, said Brady, who estimates his company will sell around 250 million Robertson screws this year. "Almost six years ago, no one had heard of them," said Ray. "We decided to sell them because they are unique and underpromoted. It's just a very simple, straightforward, easy-to-use design."

Cam fasteners are a popular alternative to dowels because they can allow manufacturers to be more productive.

"Unlike wood dowels, cams don't need a case clamp and you don't have to wait for the glue to dry," said Kraft. "And the same drill patterns as 8mm dowels can be used."

For RTA manufacturers, cam systems can improve a company's productivity. "Cam systems used to be too expensive and we used to have problems with them fitting close tolerance," said Tom Riegel, marketing director with O'Sullivan Industries.

"After making some improvements and reducing the cost, it's more economical for us to install them and it is easier for the consumer to assemble our pieces. Cams have allowed us to standardize and now we use cams in 80 percent of our fastening operations."

With biscuits, speed of assembly as well as accuracy have become important factors because biscuits, unlike dowels, are adjustable. "After a plate joint is machined, the biscuit is adjustable for about 10 minutes after the pieces have been glued and joined," said Jardinico. "The result is a perfect joint."

Improving the track record

The future of fasteners not only lies in improved materials and technology, but also branching out to other applications, according to fastener industry experts. "Not only are cam fasteners used in closet organizing systems, but European manufacturers are also using them to hold together entire wall units because they have the required strength," said Kraft. "The possible applications for cam applications have yet to be completely explored."

The future of biscuit applications also seems to be widening, according to Jardinico. "Biscuits are good for building odd-size cabinets, because it's unnecessary to reset machines for drilling dowels," he said.

Since there is such a wide variety of fasteners available on the market, component manufacturers may find it confusing to choose the right one. But by paying careful attention to specific strength, application, cost and production requirements, a manufacturer can find a fastening system that can meet or exceed the requirements necessary for maintaining a strong lead over the competition.

Screws & bolts

Equality Screw Co. says its Sinker Screw for particleboard is designed with special nibs in the underside of the head that cut a recess for the head as the screw is driven. The screw can be set flush or well below the surface. Available in Phillips or square drive, the Sinker is case hardened, make of 1018 steel and plated in black oxide.

Coil-Scru screws from Quik Drive USA Inc. are Canadian made screws that feature square drive heads that require less effort to drive and are reported to be more resistant to cam-out. Screws are held together with a plastic strip and are ready to be fed into the company's self-feeding screwgun.

The Recex wood screw from Pan American Screw is said to combine the many advantages of a square-recessed head with a cross-slot head. Its head will not ream out and it is easier to use for rapid assembly speeds and greater plant productivity, according to the company.

Parker Metal Corp. offers coarse threaded power driver screws that are designed for outdoor projects with pressure-treated lumber, such as decks and fences. Featuring a golden galvanized finish which reportedly stands up to wet weather, these hardened coarse thread Phillips bugle head screws provide optimum holding power and do not require countersinking, according to the company.

Stafast Products offers a wide variety of decorative head style bolts in sizes ranging from 20mm to 120mm in length. The bolts come in hex drive or cross recess and are available in all styles of plating.

R2 screws from Reisser are reported to have sharp points and threads to bit instantly. The screws have a layer of Teflon for high slideability and are corrosion resistant.

Hexagon Industries Inc. says it is able to produce small standard screws in the U.S. at prices competitive with imports. Defect sorting for critical applications is available. Large quantities of fasteners can be delivered significantly faster than from foreign suppliers, the company says.

Ragan Hardware Co. offers hardware and supplies for the furniture and related industries. Many products are available including: nuts, bolts and braces.


ITW/Paslode Corp. says its 16-gauge, 1 1/2-in. staples require 379 lbs of withdrawal force from hardwoods such as poplar and 377 lbs from softwoods such as yellow pine. The company attributes the high holding power to its new coating on the staples.

Senco Products offers SencoatPlus staples with a reported 30 percent more holding power and strip integrity, fewer tool jams and reduced fastener waste. They are said to be easier to drive into tough hardwoods.

Stanley Fastening Systems offers a variety of fasteners, including: 24-20 gauge fine wire staples, 18-17 gauge medium wire staples, 16-15 gauge heavy wire staples, pins, brads, finishing nails and full round head nails.

Duo-Fast Corp. offers a variety of staples with chisel, blunt, wedge and divergent points for different applications. Gauge sizes are available from 16 through 23, and crown widths vary from 3/16 in. to 1 in.


A series of brass knife thread inserts for wood products, ideal for use in KD applications, are available from E-Z Lok. Machine screw sizes are available from 4-40 through 3/8-16. They can be installed with a screwdriver, bolt and nut, tapping head or automatic screwdriver with bit finder.

Yardley Products' Zamak LK Series Fiber-sert self-tapping inserts with hex drive option provide strong threads for wood, particleboard or other soft, fibrous materials. There are no slots or holes through the wall of the insert, so the inside threads stay clean. Coarse, external threads are resistant to backout and loosening, the company says.

Precision Fasteners offers the ENSAT 302 self-tapping insert. The fasteners feature two self-cutting slots at the base to facilitate cutting action and minimize stress in the component during installation. The inserts are designed to tap their own threads as they are driven into a drilled or pre-cast hole.

Groov-Pin offers Tap-Lok self-tapping, self-locking inserts for plastic, wood and metal. The inserts are available in a variety of forms and materials, according to the company.

Mechanical fasteners

Hafele America Co.'s Minifix fastening system for drawer boxes is reported to require only one connecting system and one drill, while the same assembly tool fits all connectors.

The KD System 3 from Titus Tool Co. Inc. is a rigid two-component concealed assembly fitting allowing pre-location of panels and less than one turn to fasten. A range of standard colors and custom colors are available.

The K-9 from Outwater Plastic/Industries Inc. is a durable three-piece plastic/nickel-plated steel fastening system. It contains a tapered pin that enables the fast assembly/disconnection of two boards, the company says. It provides surface mounting.

Liberty Hardware Corp. offers the Maxi-Grip, and says it is stronger fitting than the mini connector. The Liberty bolt has a wider neck, eliminating the problem of the head breaking off, the company says. The Maxi-Grip is available in 13mm and 15mm sizes with machine and wood bolts, caps and double and multi angle connectors.

Wood jointing systems from Murakoshi are used not only for connectors, but also as elementary components. When drilled and screwed in, the pieces can be fitted with sufficient strength, the company says.

Hettich America offers a variety of connective fittings, including: the Direkta, a universal one-piece connector; Taxtex 15, a compact sturdy connector with added torque support; the VB 33, a sturdy and stable connector that is easy to assemble due to the inclined position of the cam, and the Taxtex 25, featuring interior and exterior indentations that guarantee dual security, the company says.

Panel Fastening Systems Inc. says its Interlock Offset panel fasteners are easy to install and economical for panel installation and other wall-mounted finishings.

A variety of fittings for the RTA cabinet and furniture manufacturer are available from Julius Blum Inc. For either flush or surface mount, the fittings are made of high-strength nylon and come in a variety of colors.

Futura Industries' extruded aluminum corners are a patented system for building cabinets, displays and fixtures. Extrusions are available in a variety of finishes and colors.

Spirol blind nuts, developed for use in thin walled blind holes, are available from C.E.M. Co. and replace rivet nuts, weld nuts, cage nuts and snap-in fasteners. It consists of an aluminum nut housed in a tapered nylon cage wall and comes in UNC, UNF and metric thread sizes.

Once assembled, Mod-Eez fasteners, from Modular Systems Inc., stay hidden. The unique, spring steel design allows just enough give to resist torsion stress, yet retains the integrity of the joint, the company says. It is easy to assemble and disassemble, according to the company.

Southern Imperial manufactures and stocks hanger bolts for quick delivery.

The Jumbo fastener from Knapp USA Inc. has been designed to sustain heavy loads and is fastened with two screws. The company says the fastener needs a 12mm groove that can be prepared with a milling machine or other suitable machines.

Gripper shelf-lock support clips from Handy Button Machine Co. flatten against side panels when shelves are snapped in place and become virtually invisible. Cabinets can be shipped with shelves installed, the company says. The clips release when shelves are pulled straight out.

PHOTO : ITW/Paslode Corp. says the new coating on its 16-gauge, 1 1/2-in. staples provides high holding power.

PHOTO : Hafele's Minifix fastening system for drawer boxes requires only one connecting system and one drill.

PHOTO : The KD System 3 from Titus Tool comes in a variety of standard and custom colors.

PHOTO : E-Z Lok offers a series of brass knife thread inserts suitable for KD applications.

PHOTO : The K-9 fastening system from Outwater Plastic is available in brown and white.

PHOTO : Extruded aluminum corners from Futura are a patented system for building cabinets, displays and fixtures.

PHOTO : Liberty Hardware's Maxi-Grip is available in 13mm and 15mm sizes.

PHOTO : Stafast offers decorative head style bolts in sizes from 20mm to 120mm in length.

PHOTO : Zamak LD Series Fiber-sert self-tapping inserts from Yardley have a hex drive option.

PHOTO : Pan American says its Recex wood screw combines the advantages of square-recessed and cross-slot heads.

PHOTO : Mod-Eez fasteners from Modular Systems are designed to ease assembly.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:fastening system manufactures offer better products
Author:Derning, Sean
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Nov 1, 1991
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