screws and tube
Photo: Don Penny/Time Inc. Digital Studio
Drywall screws are made to fasten wallboard to studs. But the toothy threads and trumpet-shaped heads do make 'em a tempting choice for other tasks. Short of their intended use, here are some unlikely things they're good for.

1. Put up a Paint Station. This Old House master carpenter Norm Abram screws one through each corner of a scrap board and rests cabinet doors he's just painted on the four points for a makeshift drying rack.

2. Sub For a Stopper. Screw one into the nozzle of a tube of glue or caulk to clear and seal it; leave it in for a top that screws off.

3. Scribe. If you lose the needlelike awl off your combo square, the point on a fine-thread drywall screw can scratch an equally sharp mark.

4. Silence a Squeak. For creaking floors beneath the carpet, find where the floor meets a joist, then put a 2-inch drywall screw an inch and a half into it through the carpet. A sharp, glancing blow with a hammer will snap off the head safely below the carpet's pile.

5. Replace a Punch. This Old House general contractor Tom Silva gently taps a 2-inch drywall screw with a hammer to chip away a tiny amount of glaze on ceramic tile. This keeps drill bits from "walking" and helps masonry bits get started.

6. Pilot a Hole. In lieu of a 1⁄8-inch starter bit, a drywall screw will predrill an easy path for larger hand-turned hooks, eye screws, and lag bolts in a pinch.

7. Clean up a Connection. Before installing new fittings, use a drywall screw's fine point to dig old compound and tape out of pipe threads.

8. Snake a Sink. With threads so toothy they snag on fibers, a drywall screw tied to a string and twirled in a drain can clear a mild hair clog.

9. Space Deck Boards. To lay deck boards evenly, New York contractor Terrence McCafferty drops the screws between each course before he nails it down. Big heads keep the boards in place as he aligns the ends.

10. Craft a Trammel. Tom Silva fashions his from the points of two screws driven through a strip of wood. By spacing them as wide as his proposed radius, he can scratch a perfect circle.
Ask TOH users about Hand Tools

Contribute to This Story Below