Bob Vila Radio: Screw Starter

Using a screw starter to create a pilot hole makes it easier and safer to insert and tighten a screw.

By Roseann Foley Henry | Updated Jul 29, 2013 2:05 PM

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Many small home improvement projects start with drilling a pilot hole. (That’s a small hole that prepares a material for a larger screw to follow.)


Listen to BOB VILA ON SCREW STARTERS or read the text below:



Having a pilot hole makes it easier and safer to insert and tighten the screw. It can help keep a wood piece from splintering or wedging, and it can help keep your screw in place instead of slipping and damaging the surface.

But not everyone owns a drill, and even if you do, on a very small job it doesn’t always seem worth the extra trip back to the workbench to get it just for one pilot hole. That’s why one of my favorite hand tools is a screw starter.

It looks just like a screwdriver, but instead of a bit at the end, there’s a screw. Place the screw starter against the surface where you need a pilot hole and turn it as if it were a screwdriver.

What you get is a small threaded hole that’s the perfect pilot hole for the final, larger screw. By keeping a screw starter with your screwdrivers and other hand tools, you’ll always have it handy when you’re about to do a small job.

A screw starter works best if the final screw is relatively short. If you need a pilot hole for a screw that’s longer than the tip of your screw starter, you’ll have to go get that drill after all.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.