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I have some built in cabinet designs that are all-hardwood designs with structural members getting screwed into the framing of the house. The structural members are expensive hardwoods like Wenge. They are visible, but the places where the screws fasten into the framing are hidden.

Naturally the carpenters are going to want to use a single pilot hole and use GRKs to fasten them.

I am thinking of insisting on stainless steel wood screws, even though it means drilling two different diameter pilot holes plus the countersink, the reason being that the wider diameter of the wood screw will give a more secure and dimensional screwdown than the skinning GRKs.

Are GRKs perfectly adequate for this or is my impulse to use SS wood screws better?

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  • I think there's really two questions here: Should you use a "cabinet"/"washer-head" screw or a flat-head wood screw? Is GRK a reputable brand that makes a good enough product to recommend using? – SaSSafraS1232 Dec 3 '20 at 16:39
  • Also, it's worth pointing out that the GRK cabinet screws aren't "skinny"...they're of a particular size (#8) and will match any other #8 of the same quality in shear strength. They'll do a lot better in pull-out strength than a flat-head wood screw, though, due to the much larger surface area of the head. Though in a hardwood I doubt that will matter. Honestly I think this is a situation where either choice will be "good enough". – SaSSafraS1232 Dec 3 '20 at 16:45
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GRK makes lots of screw sizes, and there are lots of stainless screws, many of which are less strong than similarly sized GRK.

My guess is that the strength of the fastener is never going to even be an issue. There are thousands of kitchen cabinets held up by the cheapest screws imaginable. Typically with a built-in, the cabinet itself is supporting all the weight and the screws just hold it in place. This makes the choice of screws even less an issue.

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Are GRKs perfectly adequate for this or is my impulse to use SS wood screws better?

  1. It's your house, and the carpenters work for you, so if you want them to do something a particular way you shouldn't hesitate to ask for that. Just be aware that if your preferred method takes more time, it may cost you more.

  2. Assuming the carpenters have done this sort of thing a few times before, it might be a good idea to trust their judgement. You could explain your concern and ask what they think.

  3. If you're only concerned about strength and don't care about wood screws for some other reason, then an alternative might be to have them use one or two extra fasteners in each of those structural pieces.

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  • Well, I guess strength is an issue because I just had a GRK pop in the living room. A piece of trim secured with a GRK I guess tried to warp and it literally broke the GRK, so there is a piece of trim hanging down 3/32" with a broken GRK in it. My larger concern is that I think the wood screws will give a more dimensional result in addition to being stronger. – Treow Wyrhta Dec 3 '20 at 16:10
  • @TreowWyrhta I had a similar situation on my deck where the screwed down decking has warped a bit and broken some screws (some at the head, others down the shaft), but I used Hillman™ screws. I don't think it's a function of the brand but either you had a faulty screw, or a serious size piece of trim warped, or it was seriously overtorqued on install. – FreeMan Dec 3 '20 at 19:06

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