It seems to me that fully threaded screws are commonly used to join wood, but I cannot see how any clamping force can be attained. Surely screws with some plain shank should be used so that the thread is only effective in one of the pieces. Am I just old-fashioned?

  • Fully threaded shanks being so common are a result of many people (and industry) using MDF and other composites. In a factory or in mechanized situation having a single fastener just saves you on the "bill of materials". These factories and machines know how to allow for the problems associated with them. You and I in our shops should seek out the right fastener for the job.
    – user5572
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 18:25
  • Can you give some examples? "Wood screws" typically do have part of the shaft unthreaded, and those screws are readily available, but there are lots of other types of screws as well. Examples of the type of screw you're talking about would be helpful, as would pointers to cases where fully threaded screws are used.
    – Caleb
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 18:27

3 Answers 3


You can do two things to workaround the issue that comes up using fully threaded screws (that it is difficult to fully clamp the pieces together and they can potentially be pushed apart):

  1. Clamp the pieces before screwing - this will ensure they are held tightly together.

  2. Drill a larger pilot hole in the top piece. This prevents the screw from threading in the top piece and ends up working the same way that screws with a plain shank near the top work.

  • Fully threaded screws are more commonly used to affix something other than wood...
    – keshlam
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 18:38
  • In machining terms at least - a clearance hole. In fact I have wood bits that do pilot + clearance + countersink + counterbore.
    – Chris H
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 18:50

You're right to be concerned about the proliferation of modern "wood screws" that are fully-threaded as the design of traditional wood screws was quite deliberate to provide holding power into the piece of wood beneath without gripping the piece of wood on top (leading to a problem called bridging, where the screw's grip on both pieces doesn't allow any gap to close up).

However, you can still make use of them in the normal manner by drilling appropriate holes in each piece just as was done traditionally.

See previous Answer that covers clearance holes and pilot holes: Are there specific types of screws I should use for woodworking?


I find that when bridging happens, pushing the boards apart instead of drawing them together, I'll back the screw out, pull them together (by hand or with a clamp, as appropriate), then drive the screw home again. In almost every situation I've come across, this is sufficient to get the boards tight together.

I would agree, however, that an unthreaded portion of the screw or a clearance hole would eliminate the problem from the get go.

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