Came across this comparison today. A Phillips driver can ruin a Robertson head.
Phillips drive tool and fastener sizes
Tool sizeFastener size00–112–425–9310–16418–24
Created by Henry F. Phillips
, the Phillips
screw drive was purposely designed to cam out
when the screw stalled, to prevent the fastener damaging the work or the head, instead damaging the driver. This was caused by the relative difficulty in building torque
limiting into the early drivers.
The American Screw Company
of Providence, Rhode Island
was responsible for devising a means of manufacturing the screw, and successfully patented and licensed their method; other screw makers of the 1930s dismissed the Phillips concept because it calls for a relatively complex recessed socket shape in the head of the screw — as distinct from the simple milled slot of a slotted type screw.
There are five relatively common (and two rather uncommon) Phillips drive sizes that are different from the screw size; they are designated 000, 00, 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 (increasing in size).
Close-up of a Robertson screw
, also known as a square
screw drive has a square
-shaped socket in the screw head and a square protrusion on the tool. Both the tool and the socket have a taper, which makes inserting the tool easier, and also tends to help keep the screw on the tool tip without the user needing to hold it there. (The taper's earliest reason for being was to make the manufacture of the screws practical using cold forming
of the heads,
but its other advantages helped popularize the drive.) Robertson screws are commonplace in Canada
, though they have been used elsewhere
and have become much more common in other countries in recent decades. Robertson screwdrivers are easy to use one-handed, because the tapered socket tends to retain the screw, even if it is shaken.
They also allow for the use of angled screw drivers and trim head screws. The socket-headed Robertson screws are self-centering, reduce cam out, stop a power tool when set, and can be removed if painted-over or old and rusty.
In industry, they speed up production and reduce product damage.
The internal-wrenching square socket drive for screws (as well as the corresponding triangular socket drive) was conceived several decades before the Canadian P. L. Robertson
invented the Robertson screw and screwdriver in 1908 and received patents
in 1909 (Canada) and 1911 (U.S. Patent 1,003,657
). An earlier patent for square-socket- and triangle-socket-drive wood screws, U.S. Patent 161,390
, was issued to one Allan Cummings of New York City on March 30, 1875. However, as with other clever drive types conceived and patented in the 1860s through 1890s, it was not manufactured widely (if at all) during its patent lifespan due to the difficulty and expense of doing so at the time.
Robertson's breakthrough in 1908 was to design the socket's taper and proportions in such a combination that the heads could be easily and successfully cold formed
which is what made such screws a valid commercial proposition
. Today cold forming (via stamping in a die) is still the common method used for most screws sold, although rotary broaching
is also common now. Linear broaching to cut corners into a drilled hole (similar to the action of a mortising machine
for woodworking) has also been used (less commonly) over the decades.
Robertson had licensed the screw design to a maker in England
, but the party that he was dealing with intentionally drove the company into bankruptcy and purchased the rights from the trustee, thus circumventing Robertson.[citation needed
] He spent a small fortune buying back the rights. Subsequently, he refused to allow anyone to make the screws under license. When Henry Ford
tried out the Robertson screws he found they saved considerable time in Model T
production, but when Robertson refused to license the screws to Ford, Ford realized that the supply of screws would not be guaranteed and chose to limit their use in production to Ford's Canadian division.
Robertson's refusal to license his screws prevented their widespread adoption in the United States, where the more widely licensed Phillips head has gained acceptance. The restriction of licensing of Robertson's internal-wrenching square may have sped the development of the internal-wrenching hexagon
, although documentation of this is limited.