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How To Avoid Breaking Spanner Bits

Avoid Breaking Spanner Bits

Broken Spanner Bit

The spanner drive style is still an uncommon drive style for most people to just have lying around.

This uncommon bit makes screws more resistant to tampering and removal without the proper bit. Due to this, a spanner bit is often referred to as a “tamper-proof” or “security” bit.

The Problem With Spanner Bits

As great as spanner “snake eye” bits are for adding security to an assembly, they also have some downfalls. Spanner bits are made to fit a very specific drive size. If they are used with the wrong size it becomes increasingly likely that the bit will break.

Spanner bits are also more prone to snapping than any other bit type. The spanner bit has two prongs that are inserted into two holes in the head of the screw. Pressure is then directly applied to only those two prongs (across a very small area) which causes the screw to turn. Other bits can have as many as six sides pushing on the head making it less likely that they will break by spreading the load across multiple points of contact.

Spanner bits are commonly avoided for this reason but there are actually a few easy steps you can take to avoid most of the common reasons spanners break.



Steps To Avoid Breaking Spanner Bits

Always Pre-Drill Into Hardwood

Hardwood can be particularly difficult for screws to cut into. We recommend pre-drilling a pilot hole even when the screw has a self-drilling tip. Pre-drilling a hole removes much of the wood that would be in the way and allows a screw to more easily install.

Avoid Coming To A Hard Stop

Drilling into knots or using a screw that is too long where it can hit metal on the back of the installation surface can cause the screw to seize in place. This sudden seizure will place all of the pressure upon the bit prongs and more than likely cause them to snap.

Avoid Over-Installation (Over-Torquing) Of The Screw

When installing the screw, make sure to stop once the head reaches the installation material. Attempting to screw the fastener in further will increase the amount of torque required to turn the screw dramatically.


Watch As Bob demonstrates this with one of our own spanner bits.

*No spanner bit regardless of quality will stay in tact if you do not take care when installing spanner drive screws. It’s the nature of the bit design.

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Installing Break Away Shear Nuts

Security Nuts That Shear Under TorqueBreak away nuts

Break away shear nuts are security nuts that break or shear under a certain pressure. These nuts are designed to be installed and never removed. You will often see them on street signs or in other places where vandalism may occur. These nuts are designed to have a structural flaw in them to create a breaking point.



Installation

The first step in installing these nuts is to hand tighten them onto a bolt. Once you get them snug against the installation material you will need to start tightening them with ashear nuts wrench. Hold the bolt in place with a wrench and then grip the nut end from the other side with another wrench. Spin the wrench onto the nut side and as the nut tightens against the material (use a washer if the material is soft to avoid damage) it will begin to place force on the flaw.

Once the flawed area of the nut reaches its breaking point, half of the nut, the side with the hexagonal gripping area will break off, leaving only a coned end behind.

The end result is a secure fastener assembly that will be incredibly difficult to remove. The cone shape makes gripping devices such as vice-grips effectively useless at removal. The hexagonal end is considered a throw-away part and cannot be reused. Shear nuts are similar to tri-groove nuts in shape, however they do not have the grooves built in that are needed for removal.

shear nut after install

Please Remember that these nuts are very difficult to remove. Make sure you only use them where you never intend on removing them again.

 

installed shear nut

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Tri-Groove Security Nuts

“Trident” Tri Groove Security Nuts

tri groove security nuts

Tri Groove security nuts are nuts that are installed with a very unconventional drive. These nuts have three slots in them, making them unique in shape and appearance. They have a cone shape, designed to be gripped only by the device intended to tighten and loosen them.

You can commonly find these in places where security or vandalism is a concern. To test these nuts we decided to install one ourselves and test a couple of different tools to see if we could remove them quickly.

First, we installed the nut using a tri-groove socket tool specially designed for this drive style. After install, we attempted to tamper installing the nutwith this fastener ourselves to determine what it would take to remove it.

We tried using an adjustable wrench. That didn’t work, the cone shape of the nut showed no gripping areas to lock the wrench into. We also tried pliers which had the same effect. Vice grips were our last attempt to break this nut loose with a conventional tool. However, the cone shape made it incredibly difficult to find a locking point. So we attempted to grab the lip and the base of the installation. The lip proved to be too small to get a good grip, leading us to our conclusion.

trying to remove the tri groove nut     plier removal attempt

Conclusion

Having tested several different removal methods for removing this nut, we have determined that without either the proper tool or physically altering the shape of the nut (perhaps with a grinder) to provide a gripping point for more conventional tools, it is unlikely that this nut will be easily tampered with when installed correctly.

*Although these nuts are fairly secure there is still a chance that someone could have enough know-how or time to alter the shape of the nut or may have come across the proper tool to remove them.



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Stainless Steel Security Socket Set Screws

 

Stainless Steel Tamper Proof Socket Set Screws

18-8 Stainless Steel Pin-In Set Screws

Socket Set Screws in this selection are driven with a special hex key or allen wrench designed to accommodate the hex drive with a central pin (pin-in). This pin prevents tampering with the fastener after assembly because it cannot be driven by a standard bit or hex key. Socket Set Screws are also referred to as Grub Screws, or simply Set Screws. Stainless Steel Set Screws are used in applications where a flush surface is key. Because they are headless fasteners, this property also adds a level of security to the screw, since it is resistant to gripping devices and anything besides the corresponding bits. 

Socket Set Screws, Grub Screws
Set screws are commonly used in pulleys, tracks, manufacturing, surfboard fins, handles and grips. Tamper proof screws are commonly seen in public areas because removal of the fasteners will be difficult, if not impossible without the correct bit. Because of this, they are commonly found in public restrooms, safes, hotels, campgrounds, jails and food processing areas. Stainless Steel tamper proof screws are ideal because the corrosion and rust resistance of the metal makes these screws suitable for long-lasting applications.


Shop Tamper Proof Set Screws Today!

 

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What are Security Screws?

What are Tamper Proof Screws?

Tamper Proof, Tamper Resistant and Security Screws

Tamper Proof Fasteners are screws, Nuts and Bolts best characterized by their unconventional drive style. Tamper Proof Fasteners are used in areas where an assembly is accessible to the public, as a means to deter or prevent vandalism or disassembly. Tamper proof security screws, or Tamper resistant security screws, are distinguished by having an unconventional drive, making tampering with the screw more difficult, if not impossible without the matching driver. Security Screws are used for securing materials from being tampered with, such as gutters, license plates, grills in jails, schools, boats and cars. They are also used in food prep and processing areas. You will often see security screws used in bathroom stalls, particularly toilet partitions and other public locations.



What is an “Unconventional Drive Style”?

Unconventional Drive Styles come in many varieties, but all share one common goal: difficult (if not impossible) installation or removal without the corresponding security Bit or Driver.

One Way Screws

Stainless Steel One Way Screws

One Way Screws (sometimes called Irreversible Screws or One Direction Screws) get their name because of their drive style. The head of the screw features a slotted drive that is designed to instantly cause cam out if the driver is turned in the wrong direction. This is achieved by manufacturing the drive in quadrants that are gradually raised to accept the driver bit when turning the screw right, and reject it when turning the screw left. The One Way drive makes installation of the screws easy, requiring only a standard slotted bit, but removal of the screw difficult (if not impossible) without the corresponding bit or a specifically designed removal tool.

One Way Screws are commonly seen in public areas such as bathroom fixtures and partitions, license plate frames on cars, wall or floor mounted safes, and wherever tampering after installation becomes a security issue. Generally speaking, all Tamper Proof Screws are used to deter vandalism or theft because the removal of the screw is difficult, if not impossible, without the corresponding unconventional bit. One Way Screws are particularly difficult to remove, which means that they should be used for long-lasting applications.

Shop Stainless Steel One Way Screws

Spanner (Snake Eye) Security Screws

Stainless Steel Spanner Screws

Tamper Proof Spanner or “Snake Eye” security screws are installed using a spanner bit. Spanner Screws are commonly referred to as “Snake Eye” because of the two dot drive system. Spanner security screws are used for securing materials from being tampered with, such as gutters, license plates, grills in jails, schools, boats and cars. They are also used in food prep and processing areas. You will often see security screws used in bathroom stalls and other public locations. Spanner screws can only be installed or removed with a spanner bit, which fits a pin into each of the screw’s two drive holes. Since Spanner screws can only be installed or removed through spanner bits, they are very resistant to tampering.

Shop Stainless Steel Spanner “Snake Eye” Screws & Bits

Torx (6 Lobe with Pin) Security Screws

Stainless Steel Torx Screws

Torx® with pin security drive can only be driven with security bits and are used to prevent tampering and theft. Security Screws in this variety are characterized by the 6 lobe, or star drive with a central pin. The pin grants additional tamper resistance as it prevents conventional screwdrivers and grabbing devices from tampering with the original installation.

Shop Stainless Steel Torx Tamper Proof Screws, Bits & Drivers

Tri-Groove Security Nuts

T Groove Nuts

Tri Groove security nuts feature a tapered diameter, making the nuts resistant to gripping devices. Security nuts are installed using a special Tri-Groove socket, which grips the indentations along the outside of the fastener to turn the nut along a thread. Tri Groove nuts are also referred to as T Groove, Trident Drive and Cone Trident Drive Nuts are tamper resistant.

Shop Tri-Groove Nuts & Drivers



In This Video:

Our Fastener Expert goes over many of the popular security fasteners available for your builds.


For more information on Tamper Proof Fasteners and to shop our selection click here.

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