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Everything You Need to Know About Sheet Metal Screws

Sheet metal screws are a special type of fastener designed specifically for metal sheets, utilizing the interplay of internal and external threads to secure sheet metal. These fasteners feature unique designs and characteristics that allow them to effectively generate sufficient bite force on metal sheets, achieving secure fastening.

Whether used to secure metal sheet-based architectural structures or to connect components of mechanical equipment made from metal sheets, sheet metal screws can provide reliable and robust connection effects.

Sheet Metal Screw Features

Sheet metal screws are primarily used for connecting metal sheets, allowing them to be fastened not only to other metal objects but also to surfaces made of various materials such as plastic, aluminum, plywood, hard rubber, or wood.

These screws feature a full-threaded design, meaning the entire screw shaft is threaded. This design enhances the grip between materials, ensuring a more secure connection. Additionally, the sharp tips and threads of sheet metal screws can easily pierce through sturdy metal surfaces and other hard materials. They perform excellently even when penetrating multiple layers of material or thick metal sheets.

Sheet metal screws can be made from various materials, with stainless steel being the most common. Stainless steel offers excellent corrosion resistance and strength, ensuring the screws maintain good performance even in harsh environments. Additionally, other materials such as brass, copper, and others are available to meet different scenarios and requirements.

Some sheet metal screws also feature protective coatings, which further prevent surface rust and corrosion. These coatings not only enhance the durability of the screws but also prolong their lifespan. Moreover, the coatings provide a certain aesthetic appeal to the screws, enhancing the overall product quality.

Sheet Metal Screws Size and Identification

The dimensions of sheet metal screws typically consist of three key numbers, representing diameter, thread count, and length.

The diameter refers to the size of the screw’s shaft and is usually indicated by a numerical value. In the designation “4-32 x 1-?”, for example, “4” represents the diameter size of the screw. The diameter determines the thickness of the screw and the size of the holes it can pass through.

The thread count represents the number of threads per inch of length on the screw. This parameter is typically represented by two numbers separated by a hyphen “-“. In the designation “4-32”, for instance, “32” indicates that there are 32 threads per inch. Generally, a higher thread count results in stronger fastening, but it may also require higher installation torque.

The length refers to the total length of the screw from the head to the tip. In the designation “4-32 x 1-?”, for example, “1-?” represents the length of the screw. The length chosen depends on the thickness of the materials being connected and the desired protrusion length.

Therefore, for a sheet metal screw listed as “4-32 x 1-?”, the diameter size is 4, there are 32 threads per inch, and the length is 1-?. Size requirements for sheet metal screws may vary depending on your project and materials.

How to Use Sheet Metal Screws?

Sheet metal screws

Sheet metal screws are fasteners designed specifically for sheet metal components, featuring unique working principles and constructions that enable easy and effective fastening of sheet metal parts.

Unlike traditional screws, the working principle of sheet metal screws involves threading the entire shaft into the sheet metal, meaning the entire shaft is covered with external threads. This design allows sheet metal screws to easily penetrate the sheet metal without “hanging up” at the entrance. In contrast, traditional screws only have threads covering a portion of the shaft, which can hinder their entry when attempting to screw them into sheet metal components.

Here’s how to use sheet metal screws:

  1. Choose the Right Sheet Metal Screws: Select sheet metal screws based on the material, thickness of the sheet metal, and the required fastening force. Ensure that the screw’s diameter, length, and thread type match the holes in the sheet metal to ensure stability and reliability of the installation.
  2. Prepare the Sheet Metal: If using self-tapping sheet metal screws, there’s usually no need to pre-drill holes in the sheet metal. The self-tapping screw’s pointed design allows it to directly cut into the sheet metal for self-tapping fastening. However, if using standard sheet metal screws, drill a pilot hole in the sheet metal with a diameter matching the screw’s diameter to facilitate smooth insertion.
  3. Position the Screws: Place the sheet metal screws in the predetermined positions on the sheet metal, ensuring that the screw heads are flush with the surface of the sheet metal. For applications requiring multiple screws, ensure that the spacing between screws is even to maintain structural stability.
  4. Tighten with Tools: Use an appropriate screwdriver or power tool to screw the sheet metal screws into the sheet metal. While tightening, maintain an appropriate level of force to avoid over-tightening, which can deform the sheet metal or damage the screws. Additionally, ensure that the screws remain perpendicular to the sheet metal for smooth insertion and to achieve the desired fastening effect.
  5. Check the Fastening Effect: Ensure that the screws are fully inserted into the sheet metal and provide a secure fastening effect. If any screws are found to be loose or unable to fully screw in, check the compatibility between the screws and the sheet metal, and re-install if necessary. Additionally, gently shake the installed sheet metal to check for any looseness.

When using sheet metal screws, also consider the following:

  • Ensure a clean work environment to prevent dust and debris from entering between the sheet metal and screws, affecting the fastening effect.
  • Use appropriate tools for operation to avoid using improper tools that may damage the screws or result in insecure installations.
  • Practice safety precautions during installation to avoid injuries.

What Are The Two 2 Types Of Sheet Metal Screws?

The two main types of sheet metal screws are self-tapping screws and self-drilling screws, each possessing unique advantages and characteristics when it comes to fastening sheet metal components.

Self-Tapping Sheet Metal Screws

Self-tapping sheet metal screws, also known as self-tapping screws, are typically made of steel and undergo surface galvanizing passivation treatment. They are highly suitable for operations with pre-drilled holes, featuring sharp tips and self-tapping threads that can directly penetrate the metal sheet surface of pre-drilled holes without the need for additional nuts or washers, making the installation process simple and fast.

Advantages of Self-Tapping Sheet Metal Screws

  • Easy installation: They can directly penetrate the sheet metal surface and tighten without the need for pre-drilled holes and additional cutting steps (can be installed directly using tools such as screwdrivers or drills, or simply pressed into the installation position).
  • High material strength: They can withstand high pressure and weight, and with the matching hole diameter, they can be securely fixed to the base material, resulting in a more reliable and stable fastening effect.
  • Cost-effective: Compared to other connection methods, self-tapping screws do not require additional nuts or washers, reducing costs.
  • Rust resistance: Self-tapping screws are typically surface-treated to prevent rust, and they have a longer service life than ordinary screws, making them suitable for use in harsh environments such as wet, corrosive zones, and high-altitude environments.

Disadvantages of Self-Tapping Sheet Metal Screws

  • When used on hard materials, self-tapping screws may experience thread stripping or poor cutting effects.
  • To improve cutting performance, it is often necessary to add lubricants for thread cutting before use.

Self-Drilling Sheet Metal Screws

Self-drilling sheet metal screws feature a tip resembling a drill bit. This design enables the self-drilling metal screw to penetrate the metal sheet directly without the need for pre-drilling, facilitating rapid and efficient connections. Additionally, it helps to avoid forming indentations during the connection process, thus maintaining the integrity and aesthetics of the material.

Advantages of Self-Drilling Sheet Metal Screws

  • Self-drilling screws have drill-like tips, eliminating the need for pre-drilling and allowing direct penetration through the metal sheet, simplifying the installation process and improving work efficiency.
  • Suitable for various materials and thicknesses of sheet metal connections, including steel, aluminum, etc., offering good versatility.
  • When selecting stainless steel self-drilling sheet metal screws, you don’t have to worry about rust issues, as they maintain excellent performance even in damp or corrosive environments.

Disadvantages of Self-Drilling Sheet Metal Screws

  • It may take longer to complete cutting tasks when using self-drilling screws on hard materials.
  • Compared to traditional screw and nut combinations, the manufacturing process of self-drilling screws is more complex, resulting in relatively higher costs.

Point Type

Sheet metal screws are available in three point types, each tailored to specific applications and materials:

Type A Screws

These screws feature coarse threads and a tapering point, making them ideal for connecting thin metal and wood. The coarse thread design provides strong grip, while the tapering point easily penetrates materials for quick installation.

Type AB Screws

Type AB screws feature fine threads and a drilling point. Due to their fine thread characteristic, they are more suitable for delicate materials to avoid causing damage during installation. Additionally, the drilling point allows them to penetrate materials without the need for pre-drilling.

Type B Screws

Type B screws have blunt heads and spaced threads, particularly suitable for plastic, plywood, and thinner metals. The blunt head design reduces pressure on the material during installation, while the spaced threads provide sufficient grip to ensure stability in connections.

Slot Type

Metal screws come in a variety of slot types, each suitable for different tools and installation needs.


The cross slot, also known as Phillips, features two perpendicular slots forming a shape resembling a “+”. This slot type is widely used because it can be installed and removed using a Phillips screwdriver, offering convenience. Due to its versatility, the cross slot is common in various industries and projects.


The slotted slot, also called the flat slot, is another common slot type. This slot has a long narrow gap in the center of the screw head, resembling a “-“. You can use a flathead screwdriver to tighten fasteners with this slot. Slotted slots are still popular in some specific applications, especially in situations where quick installation or only simple tools are available.


The square slot has a quadrilateral shape, usually recessed. This design helps prevent slipping during screw tightening, providing a more secure connection. Square slots require the use of a screwdriver or wrench that matches the slot shape for installation and removal. Due to their higher stability and anti-slip properties, square slots are particularly useful in applications requiring high torque or precise control.

Head Types

Each sheet metal screw also comes with a variety of head types to suit different applications and aesthetic preferences. These include flat heads, hex heads, hex washer heads, oval heads, pan heads, and truss heads. Each head type offers unique advantages and can be selected based on the specific requirements of the project, such as the need for countersinking, increased grip, or enhanced appearance.


Flat head screws come in cross or slotted styles and are suitable for applications requiring countersunk holes. Their design allows the screw head to be completely flush with the material surface, maintaining a smooth and aesthetically pleasing appearance. Additionally, the option for self-drilling makes the installation process more convenient.


Hex screws feature a hexagon-shaped head, typically used with nuts to form a secure connection. This design is suitable for applications requiring withstand high tensile or shear forces.

Hex Washer

Hex washer head screws combine the characteristics of a hexagon head and a washer, providing strong gripping force while securing the screw shaft to the material with the washer to prevent loosening.


Oval head sheet metal screws have a head design similar to flat head screws but with more waist to provide a better appearance. Their heads are flush with the surface, suitable for reducing wind resistance or enhancing installation stability.


Pan head screws have a circular head that protrudes above the material surface after installation. This design is suitable for applications requiring quick identification or adjustment of screw positions. Additionally, pan head screws also have the option for self-drilling, facilitating installation.


Truss head screws have a wide head and a circular top with a cross slot, suitable for applications requiring withstand high pressure and tensile forces. Their design makes the installation and removal process more convenient.

Differences Between Sheet Metal Screws and Wood Screws

Sheet metal screws are specifically designed for fastening metal substrates and hard plastics. They are often self-tapping screws, capable of securing metal sheets to metal, plastic, fiberglass, wood, or other materials. They are commonly used in metal materials without pre-drilled holes, effortlessly cutting their own threads through thin metal and providing secure fastening.

In contrast, wood screws are primarily used for applications involving wood materials such as plywood, timber, etc. They have a sharp pointed tip that can drill into wood, ensuring a stronger connection. Wood screws have relatively fewer and more widely spaced threads, aiming to minimize damage to the wood during connection and prevent splitting.

The heads of sheet metal screws can come in various styles, such as pan heads or round heads that protrude from the material surface after installation, while flat heads or oval countersunk heads sit flush with the material’s top after installation. Wood screws, on the other hand, have a shank portion, and their rear section lacks threads.

Metal Fastener Experts Serve You

BOYI, as a professional sheet metal fabrication company, deeply understands the uniqueness of each project. Therefore, when your project requires customized metal fasteners, we can tailor them to meet your exact needs.

Our machining services cover various types, including but not limited to cutting, forming, drilling, tapping, polishing, and more. With advanced machining equipment and an experienced technical team, we ensure the accuracy and efficiency of the machining process.

If you are interested in our machining services or need to learn more about our products and services, please feel free to visit our website or contact our team.


In summary, sheet metal screws are a powerful and versatile fastener that plays an important role in ensuring the firmness and stability of sheet metal connections. Understanding the types, characteristics, selection, and application of sheet metal screws can help to better use them and meet practical needs.


Can i use sheet metal screws in wood?

Yes, you can use sheet metal screws in wood, while sheet metal screws can technically be used in wood, it’s generally recommended to use screws specifically designed for wood applications to ensure optimal performance and longevity.

What are sheet metal screws?

Sheet metal screws are specialized fasteners designed for securing metal sheets together or to other materials such as wood, plastic, or fiberglass. Unlike conventional screws, which typically have partial exterior threading along their shank, sheet metal screws feature threading that covers the entire length of their shank. Additionally, sheet metal screws often feature a sharper point compared to standard screws, which helps them penetrate the metal surface more easily without the need for pre-drilling.

Tagged: Sheet Metal Fabrication Guide

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