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How to Mix Fast Setting Concrete

How to Mix Fast-Setting Concrete

concrete block

Whether you’re working making a patio in your back yard or pouring the foundation for a house you’re going to be using concrete. There are two basic types of concrete known as fast-setting and slow-setting. Slow-setting concrete is the type of concrete that can be worked for a longer period of time and takes a longer time to set. Fast-setting concrete is used generally for small DIY applications, patches and small jobs. It also begins to set very quickly so it is ideal for quick jobs. Since Fast-Setting concrete has some learning curves to working with it, you should also check out this article: 10 Tips for Working With Fast-Setting Concrete.

So how do you mix fast setting concrete? Follow our step-by-step guide to find out everything you need to know to mix and use fast-setting concrete.

Step One: Gathering Your Materials

When working with fast-setting concrete, it is crucial to have everything set up and ready to go beforehand. Due to the nature of fast-setting concrete, as soon as you finish mixing it, you’ll want to get it into place quickly.

In order to prepare you will need the following things:

  • A prepared location for the concrete
  • A bag of fast-setting concrete mix
  • The bucket for the concrete to be mixed in
  • Either an electric drill with concrete mixing bit or a masonry trowel for mixing the concrete
  • A second bucket filled with cold water
  • Protective Safety Gear
    • Protective Glasses
    • Protective Gloves
    • Long Sleeve Shirt
  • A garbage bag
  • A hose
  • A location for dumping unused mix and cleaning (*Outside)

When working with fast setting concrete, it is crucial to have everything prepared from the start. Since it sets so quickly, you’ll want to have the area you plan on putting the concrete prepared and have all of your tools laid out and ready to use.

Step 2: Mix the Concrete

concrete mixer

Now that you have all of your materials together, its time to make the concrete! First things first, put on your protective gear. We know this step can be annoying especially when you are in a rush but concrete dust can get into your lungs and eyes when pouring and the lime in the pre-mix can damage your skin. So when working with concrete wear at least safety glasses, a mask and a long-sleeve shirt.

Take the bag of concrete mix and pour it into a bucket. Then, using your mixing tool, stir the concrete pre-mix until it it all very loose and fine. There may be some small chunks which are ok. If there are big chunks, bring the bag back to your local store and get a replacement bag.

Take a step back and look around. Is everything ready to go? Are you going to be able to work straight through until the job is done? Once you answer yes to those questions, it’s time to pour the cold water into the bucket. Note: Do Not use hot water in the mix. It will set much faster making it harder to work with.

Add just a bit of water at a time and use the mixing tool to mix it. The less water you add to concrete the stronger it will be and the faster it will set. Aim for a thick sludgy consistency. During this stage it is important to remember you can always add more water. Don’t go crazy and continue mixing until there are no dry spots left in the bucket.

Step 3: Pour the Concrete

The next step is simple. Pour out or shovel the concrete from the bucket into the area. Then spread the concrete so it sets evenly and smoothly.

Step 4: Cleanuphose

Once your concrete is poured and setting up, you’ll want to clean your bucket and tools. To do this easily, do not wait for the concrete to dry. Go to the area you’ve decided is the dumping location. Then take your hose and wash all of the excess out of the bucket and off the tools. You will want to keep any animals away from it until it dries. DO NOT rinse your tools inside or down a drain. The concrete will catch in the plumbing and cause very costly issues.

Step 5: Put Things Away

Putting your tools back is the easy part. Simply put them back in the location they came from. Next, roll up the bag (if there is any left) of concrete pre-mix making sure as much air is out as possible. Then take the bag and place it inside of the garbage bag from earlier. Do the same thing to remove as much air as possible and tie the bag shut. Then store it in a dry location. This is important because concrete left out too long in the humidity or exposed to the elements will absorb moisture and harden, resulting in the leftover pre-mix being useless.

That’s it. You did it! Now you’re ready to get out there and start building something amazing.

Now that you’ve learned all the tips and poured your concrete, you’re going to need fasteners to attach something to it. Check them out here: Masonry Anchors and Concrete Screws

How to Mix Fast Setting Concrete

How to Mix Fast Setting Concrete
How to Mix Fast Setting Concrete Transcript

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Bob:Welcome back to Albany County Fasteners – Fasteners 101. I’m Bob and today I’m going to show you how to mix some concrete. Let’s get started.

This is a bag of concrete – 50 pounds. It’s quick-setting concrete. This is what I selected. They have quick-setting, they have slow setting, you know, many different mixtures. You can find it at your home improvement store. This is by Quikrete. I did many years of concrete work and many would think that, you know, “it’s a bag of concrete; it’s pre-mixed.” Well there are some important things that you need to know. Especially with fast setting concrete.

Fast-setting concrete sets very quickly, so you have to have your materials ready before you mix the concrete. I’m going to show you how to properly mix the concrete.

So I poured some of this fast setting concrete into this bucket. It’s a 5-gallon bucket I guess. You get these at Lowe’s or Home Depot, any of those. One good thing to do before you put any water in is to make sure you mix the materials around after you pour it out of the bag. That makes sure that all the materials are nice and loose. Now a couple of tips: If you go to your box store and you buy a bag of this product and you come back, and you have chunks or it’s not fine, bring it back, get a new bag. Sometimes when they ship these products they’re out exposed to the elements; they could get hit with water, and then the product starts to set up which is no good. So I would highly recommend that you make sure that you have fine product.

Now I’m gonna go get some water and we’re gonna start to mix the product. So, I went and got my water. This is cold clean tap water. Do not use hot water. Hot water will set the concrete faster, so you want to avoid doing that. It’s a good thing to just pull out of the center here, and pull to the side some of the concrete and basically just dig a little hole there to pour the water in. I’m going to start to pour this in then I’m gonna mix it. You want to go a little bit at a time, not too much, because then it’ll become too soupy and then you’ll have to put some more concrete in, which I might have to do here but I’m just gonna keep mixing it.

I’ll probably need more than what I have here anyway. To do this little project I’m doing. You just keep mixing it. Make sure you get the bottoms and the sides. Because otherwise you’re gonna have dry pockets with dry concrete. You got to make sure you mix it well. Now I’m using this ladle, you can also get a battery drill and put a concrete auger on it and mix it that way. For this I’m just doing it by hand.

Make sure you get down to the bottom. You get everything mixed well. I’m almost down there now. Now you don’t want it soupy like it is here. So I’m going to add some more concrete to this but you want to make sure that it’s well mixed. You’re better off when you have fast-setting concrete that it’s a little more wet because the drier the faster it’s going to set up on you. I’m all the way down to the bottom now. Now it’s coming together well. Okay I’m going to add some more concrete. I like to start off more soupy than dry because it makes it easy to get everything that’s on the bottom.

If you’re working on your project and as you get to the bottom and find the concrete is setting up, because this is fast set, do not add water to loosen up the product. Throw it out. Start off with a new batch, even if it’s a little bit. Just make sure you put a little bit in there with very little water, sometimes with cups of your hand or a little cup. Pour the water in as you mix it so you can finish your project off. It’s a little tip. Always a little bit at a time. Don’t go too fast because if you put too much in then it’s going to get very dry very quickly and then you have to put more water in.

This is getting perfect now. Now this is a small batch. You can get a big tub with a hoe and you can mix it. Break your bags open and put it into a big bin. We’re almost there. This is getting to the perfect consistency that I want. This is also fast setting. So fast setting, once it starts to get to that consistency, will start to set up pretty quickly. Just a little bit more. Not much…I think this is gonna do it. Yep. Now you can see it. That’s what I’m looking for. Okay. I don’t see any dry material. You want to make sure you have nothing dry.

You want to make sure it’s thoroughly mixed and always wear protection. You need gloves. You should have a mask on, so you don’t inhale this stuff. It’s not the greatest stuff for you. Concrete has lime in it. You need to protect your skin from it because if you use it many, many times, it also can do some damage to your skin. They don’t tell you that typically but you learn that over the years.

So here we are. Looks good. Just found a dry spot there. But I think I’m good for my little project. That’s the perfect consistency that I want. It’s not too watery but it is nice and chunky and thick. This will set up pretty quickly once I put it into the product that I’m trying to develop here for my next video. A piece of concrete that is already setting up and then you pour a fresh batch on top of that, they call that a cold joint. That’s where you’re going to have a possible break and you will see a joint in the concrete. So you kinda wanna-when you’re working with concrete-you want to move fairly quickly. Especially fast setting. Slow setting, normal setting, you know it’s much easier to work with. I would highly recommend that, if you haven’t worked with concrete before.

If you have a bag and you have extra material, it’s good to roll this up, take it, put it in a plastic bag like so. Seal it up tight. Make sure you don’t have any holes in the bag because once you break that paper bag open moisture in your garage or your basement will start to penetrate the concrete and then when you go to use it let’s just say two months three months, this will prolong the life. If it’s over a year old chances are that you’ll come back to this and it will be chunky. You just need to throw it out at that point.

A final tip: cleaning. Do not clean concrete buckets out in your slop sink, your toilet, your regular sink in your house, your bathtub, don’t do it. Clean it outside. Get a hose, clean the concrete out in your grass somewhere that you just don’t want to see it. Though it will leave a residue around. If you clean it out in your sink, slop sink, toilet, or your bathtub, the trap in the plumbing will collect the concrete sand and it will set up in there and the end result is it will reduce the amount of flow of water and whatever else is in there by a substantial amount. Thus clogging your sink eventually. Hair will cling to it. A lot of people do this. It’s a big mistake. Don’t do it. That’s how you mix a bag of concrete. I probably used about 75% of this bag. Thanks for watching.

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10 Tips for Fast Setting Concrete

10 Tips for Working With Concrete - Designed Logo

10 Tips for Fast Setting Concrete

Fast-setting concrete is incredibly easy to work with. It is important to know some tips and tricks to help make working with it easier, especially if you are new to it. With that in mind, we asked our Fastener Expert, Bob, to tell us some tips we should think about when working with fast setting pre-mixed concrete. Below are his top tips for working with concrete.

Never worked with fast-setting concrete before? No Problem! Read this post as well: How to Mix Fast Setting Concrete

1. Bags of Pre-Mixed Concrete Can Be Bad When You Buy Them

To use Fast-Setting Concrete, all you must do is add water to the pre-mix. This sounds simple, but often when being delivered to the store, the mix is exposed to the elements. If caught in the rain or humidity long enough, the concrete mix will absorb some of the moisture and begin hardening.

When you first buy and open a bag, you’ll want to check for any large chunks of hardened concrete. Not only will you not be able to use this bit, but it will also change how much space the concrete can cover. If there are any large chunks, bring it back to the store it was bought from and get it changed out for a new bag.

2. Fast-Setting Concrete Sets Quickly

This one may seem self-explanatory, but often someone will begin mixing the concrete prematurely resulting in the concrete beginning to harden prior to placing it where it needs to go. A better method is to make sure all materials are present and any spreading or moving tools are also present and ready before mixing the concrete.

3. Before Mixing the Concrete

Ok, so the tools are out, you have your location set up and now you need to mix the concrete right? Wrong. First add the concrete pre-mix into your bucket. Then take the mixing tool, whether it be a concrete spreader or a concrete mixing auger, and mix the dry pre-mix.

This practice helps prevent large clumps from being an issue later. Before adding anything to the pre-mix ensure that it is mostly loose, and any chunks are broken down. Try to make the pre-mix as fine as possible before use.

4. Don’t Use Hot Wateruse cold water with fast-setting concrete pre-mix not hot water

When mixing fast-acting concrete with water, use cold water. Hot water will make the mix harden significantly more quickly.

When adding the water to the concrete pre-mix, take a tool and scoop out the middle creating a hole. Pour the water into the hole. This will help during the mixing process as some of the water is now closer to the pre-mix at the bottom of the bucket.

5. Start Slow and Add Water a Bit at a Time

To get the concrete mix to a good consistency, add the cold water a little at a time. Doing so prevents the pre-mix from getting too thin or “soupy”. Ultimately, this type of concrete should be a thicker sludge consistency (chunky and thick) when done properly.

Don’t panic if too much water is added during the mixing and it becomes too thin. Just add more concrete to the mix and keep mixing until there are no dry spots left inside the container. This is when a battery-drill and concrete mixing bit come in handy.

6. Make It More Wet If You Are Less Experienced

Fast-setting concrete sets very quickly, as the name suggest. If you are inexperienced with working with concrete, add a little extra water to the mix. This will increase the amount of time it takes the concrete to set. *Note: When adding extra water, you still do not want to compromise the sludge-like consistency. Just add a little bit more than normal.

7. If Mixing A Lot, Start Off With Too Much Water

If the project is going to require a large amount of concrete, add some of the pre-mix then add in too much water. This may sound contradictory, but it makes the mixing process easier than trying to get the water mixed down to the bottom of a 50 lb. bag of pre-mx. Imagine if it was with 10 bags. Mixing would be incredibly difficult.

8. If the Mix Begins to Set Throw It Out

concrete-cement-mixing-truck

Using fast-setting concrete requires the project to be fast from start to finish. If the mix begins to harden and set in the bucket before the job is complete, throw it out.

Even if only a very small amount is needed to complete the project, mix fresh concrete to finish the job. Unfortunately, adding more material this way will cause a cold joint (see tip 9 for more details).

9. Adding Wet Concrete Mix to Set Concrete Forms a Cold Joint

Due to the way concrete dries, when you add more concrete to the old set material, it will not properly connect to the old concrete. This can cause cracks prematurely in the material. The location where fresh mix is added to set concrete is referred to as a cold joint. If possible, avoid these and get the entire job done at once. This will significantly increase the lifespan of the concrete.

10. Bag Your Bag of Pre-Mix for Next Time

As we went over earlier, Concrete Pre-Mix is a very dry substance. If left in a humid environment, it will absorb the moisture out of the air and begin hardening. To prevent this, after you’ve opened a bag of concrete, roll up the bag as much as possible and tuck it into a plastic garbage bag.

Attempt to get as much of the air out of the garbage bag as possible before tightly tying it shut. This will greatly increase the shelf-life of the mix.



Extra Tips:

We know we said 10 tips, but we just couldn’t finish this post without mentioning the posts below.

Extra Tip 1: Wear A Mask, Long-Sleeves and Gloves

Concrete pre-mix is incredibly dry. When pouring it into the bucket you are going to use, the powder will fly all over the place coating whatever is nearby. To best protect yourself from the material, use a mask (rated for the material) to prevent breathing it in.

Also wear long sleeves and gloves while working with the material. Concrete has lime in it. If skin is exposed to the pre-mix, especially often, it will harm and damage the skin.

Cleaning Out the Bucket

Many people do not think about what happens to the concrete after you finish a project. It is common to find inexperienced users have washed it out in their sink or bathtub. DO NOT DO THIS. Washing out concrete into the plumbing of a house can cause expensive damages. Often the concrete will stick in the catch or to a pipe and begin accumulating other debris blocking up the pipes or septic system. The best solution is to wash out the bucket outside with a hose. It will leave a residue in the grass (or a chunk of concrete depending on how much you’ll be washing out. While that is not ideal it is better than damaging your house’s internal plumbing.

Now that you’ve learned all the tips and poured your concrete, you’re going to need fasteners to attach something to it. Check them out here: Masonry Anchors and Concrete Screws



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Double Expansion Anchors – How Do You Use Them

What Is A Double Expansion Anchor?zinc double expansion anchors

A double expansion anchor is a type of masonry anchor used for anchoring into materials of questionable strength or quality. In the world of masonry anchors, most rely on deforming a portion near the bottom of the anchor once inside a hole to prevent the anchor from coming loose.

Double expansion anchors differ from other masonry anchors. Instead of the bottom portion of the anchor expanding dramatically to create a strong grip, the entire anchor expands, but only slightly, in size to distribute the pressure over the entire surface area of the anchor.



When Do You Use One?

Basically, most masonry anchors are one way entry devices; they’re not meant to come out. In large slabs of concrete, most of these anchors work fine because the concrete is so strong that the anchors can place a large amount of force against it without risk of damaging the concrete. This becomes a problem with certain masonry materials.

Brick is a perfect example of a softer small masonry material. Due to its size and shape, brick can be considered delicate. Common expansion anchors placed in brick will almost certainly crack or damage the brick.

A double expansion anchor would be used when the material being installed in is of a weak material or of questionable quality. They expand evenly and distribute their holding power over the entire hole. This minimal expansion over a much wider surface area still provides a strong holding power that does not damage the brick.

double expansion anchors pre and post expansion

Installing A Double Expansion Anchor

To install a double expansion anchor, follow the steps below:

  1. Using an SDS drill bit, drill a hole into the brick the same diameter as the anchor. The hole will need to be slightly longer than the anchor in-depth.
  2. After cleaning out and debris from the hole, insert the double expansion anchor into the hole with the threaded portion near the bottom.
  3. Next drill a hole through the material that will be anchored to the brick.
  4. Line up the holes and use a matching machine screw to catch the threads of the anchor. The initial spins can be done by hand.
  5. Using a screwdriver, tighten the machine screw until it tightens against the surface of the material being connected to the brick. *Note: The length of the machine screw will vary depending on what you are attaching to the brick.

One of the unique things about double expansion anchors is that they can be easily removed from an installation hole and reused. To remove one simply take out the machine screw and it will form back into its original shape. Then it can be removed from the hole.

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Types Of Masonry Anchors

Types Of Masonry Anchors

There are many types of masonry anchors available today. The problem for many is determining which of these anchors they need to perform the job. Listed below are some of the more common fasteners found in the masonry field.

Drop In AnchorsDrop In Anchors With Setting Tool

A Masonry Drop In Anchor is mostly used in poured concrete.  They are used in high strength applications by fastening a bolt into the internal threading of the anchor. They are also available in coil threading (a coarser thread for coil threaded rod). Some masonry anchors have a lip to prevent the anchor from dropping too far into the concrete.

To install the drop in anchor, drill a hole the same diameter as the anchor and only as deep as the anchor itself. Then drop the anchor into the hole and seat the setting tool inside of it. Then hit the setting tool with a hammer. The bottom portion of the anchor will deform resulting in a wedged anchor that cannot be removed.

Lag Shield AnchorsLag Shield Wedge Anchors

A Lag Shield Concrete Anchor is used in combination with a lag screw to create an anchor in concrete. Lag shields are made of two parts and when the lag screw is driven into the shield, it expands resulting in a tight wedge in the concrete.

Lag Shield Anchors are very similar to a drop in anchor but are designed specifically to take a lag screw. Lag screw anchors also do not require a setting tool to install.

Masonry Concrete Screws

Masonry Concrete Screws, sometimes referred to as Tapcons, are probably the Tapcon Masonry Concrete Screwsmost common concrete fastener used. Concrete screws are easy to identify based on their bright blue coating. They are used for fastening wood or metal to different masonry materials. They are available in both Phillips flat head (for flush finishes) and hex head (for ease of installation).

Installing a concrete screw is very simple. First, drill a hole through both materials and then simply drive the screw into the hole. Make sure you use a screw that is long enough to reach through both materials otherwise you will not have a firm hold.



Sammys Hanging AnchorsSammys Screws

Sammys Screws are a common anchor used for hanging applications. Most often installed vertically or horizontally, these anchors have a threaded opening used to receive threaded rod. Sammys are commonly used in HVAC applications for hanging duct. The term Sammys, much like Tapcon, is a brand name. There are many types of these hanging anchors available.

To install a Sammys screw, first drill a hole into the material and use a wrench or socket to drive the anchor into the material. Once installed to the silver head, remove the wrench and screw in a piece of threaded rod.

Hammer Driven Pin AnchorHammer Drive Pin Anchor

A Hammer Driven Pin Anchor is a small anchor which is mostly used to fasten plywood to concrete. These anchors are very simple to use. They have a lip over the head making it compatible with holes that may have accidentally been driven too far into the material.

To install one of these pin anchors, drill a hole through both materials and drop the anchor into the hole. Once the lip is seated against the top of the material, hit the exposed pin with a hammer. The pin is driven down through the middle of the fastener pushing both sides out in a wedge fashion holding the fastener in place.

Toggle Wing AnchorsToggle Wing Anchors

A Toggle Wing Anchor is used when a hollow wall is present. This is common when cinder blocks are used to create the walls of a building. They are also commonly used in drywall applications. It is not recommended to use heavy weight on these anchors especially in drywall as they will rip through the material.

To install one of these anchors, first a hole must be drilled big enough for the toggle portion of the anchor to push though. Once in the hollow part of the wall, the toggle wing will expand. Then using either a Phillips or Slotted head screwdriver, the bolt is driven into the toggle wing pulling it against the other side of the wall. This allows the bolt to tighten down on the material being hung.

Double Expansion Shield AnchorDouble Expansion Shield Anchor

Double Expansion Shield Anchors are used primarily used in brick and block. As a screw is driven into the anchor, it starts to pull down towards the middle resulting in an expanded anchor. These anchors only expand so much. The reason for this is to prevent brick from cracking.

To install a double expansion shield anchor, simply drill a hole large enough for the anchor to drop into and then install the screw into the anchor. As you fasten the screw it will pull the bottom towards the middle and force the top down to the middle as well. The result it a limited but effective amount of expansion on the anchor. The limit of expansion highly reduces the chance of cracking brick or block.

Sleeve AnchorsSleeve Anchors

Sleeve anchors are fairly simple to use and are primarily used in brick or block. They can be used in concrete but are not considered as strong as a wedge anchor. So, for light to medium holding applications, a sleeve anchor is a good choice. There are two common types of sleeve anchors. They are the Nut Drive which is commonly used for extra strength and Phillips/Slotted Combo Driven Flat Head which is used when a flush surface is required.

To install the nut driven style, drill a hole and place the sleeve anchor into the hole. Then place the washer and nut onto the exposed threading and begin fastening the nut. As the anchor is pulled up out of the concrete, the sleeve around it begins to expand wedging the anchor into place inside the hole. You can install the Combo Flat head style in much the same way except you are using a Phillips drive and the installation will leave the top flush with the surface of the installation material.

Wedge AnchorsWedge Anchors

Wedge Anchors are extremely popular and are one of the strongest anchors for hold strength. Wedge anchors look and function like a sleeve anchor but have a much smaller sleeve near the bottom of the anchor.

To install a wedge anchor simply drill a hole that is the same size diameter as the anchor and place it into the hole. After placing the material being held to the concrete on the exposed portion, place the washer and thread the fastener onto the anchor. As the nut is tightened against the washer, it will begin pulling the anchor up. This will result in the wedge skirt catching the concrete and expanding and digging into the concrete as the anchor is pulled.



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Self Tapping Vs. Self Drilling Screws

 Self Tapping Vs. Self Drilling Screws

self tapping screws
Self Tapping Screws have sharp cutting threads to cut into a material and create its own threading.

What Are Self Tapping Screws?

Unless you are planning on through bolting something (the process of sliding a bolt through a hole and connecting a nut to the other side to hold it in place), almost every situation involving a bolt requires a tapped hole. A tap is a tool that can be inserted into a hole after it has been drilled and creates threading for the screw to fasten into.

Self tapping screws eliminate the need for a tap by having sharp cutting threads that can tap the threading themselves while being fastened. There are two large benefits of using self tapping screws. The first is that they save time and money by eliminating the need for a tap. The second is that the resulting threading they create is much more precise and creates a tighter stronger connection. It is common to see self tapping screws used in steel and masonry materials but they can also cut into plastic or wood.

What Are Self Drilling Screws?

self drilling screws
Self drilling screws have a point that acts as a drill bit and sharp cutting threads that tap the hole during installation.

Self drilling screws are a commonly used variety of screw for quick drilling into both metal and wood. A self drilling screw can typically be identified by its point and flute (notch) tip. This tip acts as a drill bit for the screw making it much faster to install then having to switch between a drill bit and driver bit.

The notched area in the tip acts as a reservoir to receive wood chips or metal filings. This creates the space necessary to drill/screw the screw all the way into place.

Self Drilling Screws are almost always made out of hard steel or some metal that has been treated to increase its hardness (such as 410 stainless steel). Always make sure when using self drilling screws, the material you drill into is softer than the screw material itself. Otherwise, the screws drilling tip will dull and not cut into the material. All self drilling screws are also self tapping by the nature of how they work.

Self drilling screws are a time saver eliminating both the steps of drilling (in most cases) and tapping a hole prior to installation. This also eliminates the need for drill bits and taps and switching between them for each hole.

*While these screws are able to drill their own holes, we still recommend using a standard drill bit first especially when going through very thin wood. This step will limit the amount chance of splitting/cracking significantly.



Self Drilling Vs Self Tapping: Which Is Better?

In the world of fasteners, the usual answer for which is better comes down almost entirely to the situation the fastener is being used for. From a time saving point of view, a self drilling screw is the better choice because it can eliminate the need for a drill bit making installations a one step process. However, both have their place and it comes down to knowing which to use in the situation at hand.

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