Which screw drive is best, Star, Phillips, or Square? How about a combo?

Which screw drive is best, Star, Phillips, or Square? How about a combo?

11/11/198 comments

Whether you are a construction pro or a determined DIYer, a project can really get “screwed up” (pun intended) if the proper drivers for that screw are not used. The days of grabbing screws and a screwdriver from a rusty coffee can are over. Quality projects take planning, skill, as well as the proper tools, and Leola Fasteners is the perfect place to start - with a variety of drivers, fasteners, and other supplies to help you get it right. Check out all the different choices – one size or type does not fit all. Cabinets and furniture need different fasteners than decks, sheds and modular homes. Leola Fasteners, a Lancaster-based national supplier of top-quality drivers, screws, bolts and other fasteners can help.

Dozens of different screw drives beyond slotted and Phillips drive screws have been developed for strength, ease of use, tamper resistance, manual and industrial drivers – for all kinds of applications. Three popular screws today include Star drive screws, Phillips drive screws (yes, they are still widely used) and Square drive screws. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the advantages of each type, but when it comes to choosing quantity, length, special features, and ease of use, give us a call at Leola Fasteners and talk to a professional (717) 656-0256. We can help.

Star Drive


Star Drive Screw

The Star (also known as Torx) has a six-point, star-shaped drive that was developed mainly to enhance tamper resistance and ensure snug fits. The star design drivers cut down on the risk stripping the screw heads, slippage, or cam-outs, with tight, specific fits. Leola Fastener’s Star drives are most often used for large construction screws, as extra torque is needed to drive the screw.

Our very popular 8X2-1/2 Star Drive Flat Head Ceramic Screw
A collection of Leola Fastener's best selling Star Drive Screws

Phillips Drive

Phillips Drive ScrewsPhillips drive or crosshead screws are commonly used in DIY and construction projects. The + slot allows for more torque to be put on the driver to ensure a tight fit, with many sizes of screwheads and drivers, excellent for many applications. However, the screw drives strip easily, and may cam-out or slip if driven at an angle. Cheaply made screws, and improperly fitted drivers make it almost impossible to back out the Phillips head screw without visible damage to the project.

Leola Fastener's best selling Phillips Drive Screws

Square Drive

Square Drive ScrewsSquare drive screws have a center square that neatly fits a driver - advantages to consider when working on a construction or DIY projects that use composite materials or join angles. For starters, they are most resistant to cam-outs or screwdriver slips, and the connections are tight. Builders like that they have the ability to drive the screws one-handed due to the driver-screw fit and find the Square screw sturdy and strong for pocket hole joinery but able to be disassembled without stripping the screw or damaging the item.

Leola Fastener's best selling Square Drive Screws

Phillips/Square Combo Drive

quare/Phillips Combination Drive ScrewsAnd then there are optimal combinations of bits and drivers - one of the most effective being the Phillips Drive blended with a Square Drive. This combo driver just makes sense. The fit between the driver and the head of the fastener covers a larger surface area and allows the user additional flexibility and stability (the screw won’t fall off the driver as easily) along with the ability to apply additional torque, while lessening the risk of cam-outs and fastener breakage. While seemingly a specialty driver, just think of the advantages!

Leola Fastener's best selling Phillips/Square Combo Drive Screws

C’mon back and join Leola Fasteners as we delve more into the wonderful world of screws, bolts, fasteners and offer up some tips on how to choose the best screw features for your needs.

Tags: drivers, screws

Comments (8)

mitchell katt on 6/ 3/24

Star bits are best hands down. Not sure why the heck they even make phillips or flat heads anymore, its just cheap crap.

Dave Kirkeby on 9/11/23

For higher torque applications Torx are better. They stay on the driver better and there is zero cam out.

For lower torque applications Phillips are better. They’re common, and there isn’t a lot of cam out when used in lower torque applications.

Square or Robertson drive should have been much more common in the US than it was. For many applications it was much better than the Phillips. However, Torx is better that Robertson and now, IMO, there are no applications where square drive is best.

Lee Dahle on 10/26/21

I like using Robertson screws and have a pretty complete set of driver bits. But now I see there is a new size called #2.7 in the US. It is bigger than a #1 and smaller than a #2. The “2.7” may be its size in mm. What’s it for and where did it come from?

Richard Thomas on 8/12/21

To correct my typos in my comment since this site will not allow me to edit…. When I said “Tory” I meant TORX and when i said “driveling” I meant driving. So weird that comments can not be edited…..

Richard Thomas on 8/12/21

I really like the combo drive and have used them for years now as a cabinet maker and cabinet installer. You can stick them on to the tip of your square drive bit and with one hand drive them. Phillips are only good for small screws. Our square drive is good too but not as good as combo and Tory…well if you want all the worst of both types then buy those…. The driver boots sheer off and or cam out way too easy and you can’t just stick a screw to the end and have it stay there, for cabinet guys the one handed screw driveling is very important because the other hand is usually needing to hold something in place. Combo drive is by far the best and probably most expensive but for a professional who is driving countless screws every day of their life it is a small price to pay for how well they work.

Bernard Lam on 6/10/21

Hi Bob. I came to this site to read up on square drives because I’m sick of having so many square bits from but sets and I never use them but don’t want to throw them away. Let’s not talk about Phillips, or cross head drives, they should be banned for how poorly they work. However, torx, which is actually the star drive, is the standard here and should be standard everywhere. What I want to know is, what advantages does square or Robertson drives have over torx. If only square drive screws are cheaper than torx, I might try some. But if they are not cheaper, not better, then I’m recycling all my square bits.

Mike on 6/ 6/21

I prefer torx. I have seen many Phillips and Robertson strip out, but have never fully stripped out a torx drive screw

Bob on 3/ 7/21

Can never understand why you people south of the border do not give credit we’re credit is due. The fact that Robertson screws are rarely identified as Robertson screws, square drive is the norm. Why is that?
Would you call Phillips drives ,star drives? For decades Robertson screws have been the go to screw for any diner or professional looking for a quality fastener, in addition to one that will stay on the driver and not fall off when directed to the work surface. Phillips screws are the only screws available for attaching drywall sheeting. However, they still require two hands when driving into the drywall.
Secondly, Robertson screw drivers have always been identified by the the size of screw that they are driving, #8 driver for a #8 screw. One other point is,
the color of the screw driver readily identifies the size of screw to be used. Ex, #8 would is red, #6 is green, #10 is black.and so on. A fail proof means of identity.
In contrast, the US identifies the driver for a #8 screw should be a #2 driver. Unknown to me until I went to Home Depot to buy a replacement bit for my Rigid power screw driver.
To sum up, My only use for Phillips screws, installing drywall. Why is that? That is all that is available for drywall.
For all other attachment requirements, Robertson is the choice of diyer’s, tradesmen and contractors.

Bob Nosakcin

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