The days are long gone when the main choice of woodscrews was between steel or brass, countersunk or roundhead. You can still buy these types of screws, but they are for niche markets. The trades, and increasingly every screw user, are able to buy the modern types of straight-shanked, coarse threaded and pozi-headed screws that are meant to be driven by cordless drivers. I don’t miss the old days, fiddling with pilot holes and the hassle of using a screwdriver – bring on the Bullet Screws.
The first thing that struck me when I looked at the sample screws I was sent was the relative coarseness of the threads. On the 5×40 screw for example, there is at least a 3mm gap between the threads. The advantage of a straight shank and coarse thread is that you get a very rapid driving speed with a cordless driver as friction is reduced. The straight shank maintains a constant speed unlike the old elongated cone-shaped woodscrews that actually got more difficult to drive the deeper they got into the material. If you do need a pilot hole with the Bullet screw, it only needs to be as wide as the main screw shank minus the width of the threads.
The point of the Bullet screws is very sharp indeed and has a corkscrew type design that means it is very easy to start. Many screwdriver chucks these days have a magnet in them to hold the screw for starting, but the extra sharp point of the Bullet screw means that a sharp push into the material will hold the screw in place too.
A little way up from the tip a flute has been ground at right angles to the thread. This disperses heat, reduces splitting and allows easier driving into resistant materials.
The countersunk head of the Bullet screw is another minor engineering feat and perhaps helps to explain why woodscrews cost pence each rather than pence per ten these days. There is a crown-ribbed design on the head which means that the screws are self-countersinking as well as being extremely strong. It is not unknown for a screw head to shear off when driven by a cordless driver, but this crown head seemed to be very strong and also countersunk well when I drove some repeatedly into a hard weathered oak gatepost.
In common with many other modern screws the Bullet screws are coated at the factory with zinc and are also given a coat of special wax that makes them easier to drive. The zinc coating makes the screws corrosion resistant and they should be able to be removed more easily as well, even if they have been in place for a while outside. An added advantage is that timber, even notoriously tannin acid oak, should not show corrosion marks where the screws have been inserted.
I drove a lot of Bullet screws into a variety of materials for this test and I can safely say that they are pretty impressive. I tried hard to break some by deliberately being brutal and overdriving them into hard materials. I had no breakages, but instead felt that my 14.4 v driver was actually the victim of the abuse rather than the screws.
The Bullet screws are clearly well made screws and do everything that is claimed for them, and clearly they are welcome competition in the market. We consumers love to have choice and competition. But launching a new screw on an already competitive market is a tough thing to pull off, so a bit more is needed…..
One of the best ideas for marketing screws recently is the plastic case of commonly used screws at a very competitive price. The trouble is I find that however hard I try I always end up with some sizes that I don’t use very much.
Birchwood Price Tools Bullet screws have a better idea. The “Buy ‘n’ Build” system means that you choose the screw sizes you want and contain them in the AMMO case (£29.95 ex VAT) The AMMO case is purpose-built to contain screw boxes separately and safely so that you will never be short of the screws you need. You might just need to remember that the maximum number of screws that fit into the AMMO case is 19,200 and it could weigh up to 15Kgs.
I also like the pricing structure –clear and simple as it is. There are only three price points for three different sized boxes £5, £7 and £15 (RRP ex VAT). Purchasers know what they are getting for the price paid.
We all know that impact drivers are very commonly used to drive screws especially on building sites. ToolBusiness has reviewed some of these specialist drivers and bits and they are pretty impressive.
The latest thinking into impact driving is ensuring that the driving bits are up to the job of absorbing the stresses of impact drivers and larger screw sizes. Each box of Bullet screws has a 50mm long, high performance Red Bullet bit included. The bits come with a standard hex shank, but the Phillips PSD head recess gives a very tight fit into the screwhead. This is claimed to give a better output to screwdriving than conventional bits. Without the technical kit I would need to test this claim I can’t really comment, other than to say that when you attach a screw to the bit the fit is so tight that you can dangle the screw from the bit and shake it and the screw won’t fall off.
Finally, retailers are an important part of any new launch. They will benefit from a nationwide PR campaign by Birchwood Price Tools with events and advertising, direct mail and email to consumers as well as a range of Point of Sale materials and merchandising solutions.
In my experience, poor products can have as much PR thrown at them as you like, but if they don’t work well people won’t buy them. From my tests, these Bullet screws are very good and are definitely worth a look if you are a trade user.3