If you show anybody a screw or a nail, it’s almost certain that they will know the difference between them when it comes to the physical differences. But what isn't quite so obvious is which fastenings should be used for which purpose - the answer lies in which forces each resists. Here, we explain the crucial difference between the nail and the screw

This is a sort of old BS Fixings science-fair exhibit (winning exhibit, obviously) that you can recreate and it makes you look really wise and sage. Watch out for OUR wise and sage face; it's coming right after this.

Any type of fastener or fixing is designed to resist one or more of the various forces that would naturally prevent the component from holding together. Nails perform at their best when resisting shear force (force pulling sideways) while screws are designed to resist withdrawal force (force pulling outwards). You don’t have to carry out the following test as we have detailed it for you but do feel free to do so if you want to establish it for yourself!

  1. Take a block of wood and, using the appropriate tool, insert two nails and two screws side-by-side about halfway into the block
  2. Using the claw of a claw hammer, try to remove first the nail and then the screw
  3. You will immediately notice that the nail slides out relatively easily while the screw requires much more force, if you can even manage to remove it at all - this clearly highlights the superiority of screws at resisting withdrawal force
  4. Next, use the hammer to strike first the nail and then the screw from the side
  5. This time, the nail (though it has probably bent) has held fast in the wooden block while the screw has made its original hole wider, becoming loose and therefore ineffective as a fastener - here we see how nails are better at resisting shear force

Whether screws or nails are the best fixings for the job, it is essential to choose only those of the highest quality from a well-established, reputable supplier such as BS Fixings - starting a project with steel fixings of inferior quality will lead to results of a low standard, with potentially hazardous or even fatal results.

All of our stainless steel screws and steel nails are designed and fabricated to the most exacting standards and a full range of sizes and grades is available to suit. Our highly-trained team are always available to offer competent, authoritative advice on choosing the very best stainless steel fastenings for your unique requirements and, as always, we offer an extremely competitive market price.

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