robertson screwdriver

Laughing at Loose Screws: Conquer with the Mighty Robertson Screwdriver

The Invention of the Screw and Screwdriver

To fully appreciate the genius of the Robertson screwdriver, let’s take a trip down memory lane and explore the early history of screws, the need for improvement, and the pivotal role played by P.L. Robertson in the development of the socket-head screw.

Early History of Screws

Screws have been around for centuries, with their origins dating back to ancient times. These early screws were typically handmade and laborious to produce. They featured a slotted head, which required a flat-bladed driver for installation. These slotted screws, while functional, had their fair share of drawbacks, including the tendency to slip and cause frustration, delay, and even injury.

The Need for Improvement: Slotted Screws

As time went on, it became evident that slotted screws were far from perfect. The frustration of slipping drivers and damaged screw heads was a common occurrence. Carpenters and DIY enthusiasts alike were in desperate need of a more reliable and efficient screw and screwdriver combination. The stage was set for a groundbreaking innovation.

P.L. Robertson and the Socket-Head Screw

Enter P.L. Robertson, the Canadian inventor and engineering genius behind the socket-head screw. In 1907, at the age of 27, Robertson received the Canadian patent for his invention, followed by the U.S. patent in 1911. His breakthrough was the design of the socket’s taper and proportions, which allowed for the successful cold forming of the screw heads. This innovation made Robertson screws a valuable commercial proposition. Even to this day, cold forming remains the most common fabrication method for Robertson screws (Wikipedia).

The socket-head screw, as designed by P.L. Robertson, featured a squared recess with chamfered edges, tapering sides, and a pyramidal bottom. This precise shape eliminated the frustrating issue of slipping or camming out, providing a reliable and secure connection. The socket-head screw quickly gained popularity for its effectiveness and ease of use.

The invention of the socket-head screw by P.L. Robertson revolutionized the screw and screwdriver industry, offering a significant improvement over the traditional slotted screws. Carpenters and builders embraced the new design, experiencing the convenience and efficiency it brought to their work.

In the next sections, we will delve deeper into the design, benefits, and impact of the mighty Robertson screw and the screwdriver that accompanied it. Stay tuned to uncover the fascinating details of this ingenious invention and its lasting legacy.

The Robertson Screw and its Advantages

The ingenious design of the Robertson screw and its accompanying screwdriver provides numerous advantages over other screw types, making it a favorite among carpenters and DIY enthusiasts alike. Let’s explore the design, benefits, and how it compares to other screw types.

The Design of the Robertson Screw

The distinctive feature of the Robertson screw is its square-shaped recess in the head, known as the square socket drive. This recess allows for a more secure and efficient way of driving the screw compared to traditional slotted or Phillips screws. The square socket drive provides a snug fit between the screwdriver and the screw head, minimizing the chances of slipping or stripping the screw.

Benefits of the Square Socket Drive

The square socket drive of the Robertson screw offers several advantages that have contributed to its popularity among professionals and DIYers alike:

  • Resistance to Cam-Out: One of the key advantages of the Robertson screw is its resistance to cam-out. Cam-out occurs when a screwdriver slips out of the screw head during tightening, often leading to damage to the screw head and frustration for the user. The square socket drive of the Robertson screwdriver prevents slipping and provides a secure grip, minimizing the risk of cam-out.

  • Efficiency and Ease of Use: The square socket drive of the Robertson screw allows for efficient and precise driving of screws. The screwdriver fits securely into the recess, providing maximum torque transfer and reducing the chance of the driver slipping off. This feature makes the Robertson screwdriver ideal for applications where high torque is required.

  • Reduced Stripping: The square socket drive distributes torque evenly across the screw head, reducing the likelihood of stripping the screw. This is particularly beneficial when working with harder materials or when using power tools.

Comparison to Other Screw Types

In comparison to other common screw types, such as slotted and Phillips screws, the Robertson screw offers distinct advantages:

  • Slotted Screws: Slotted screws require a slotted screwdriver, which can easily slip out of the slot and cause damage to the screw head or surrounding material. The square socket drive of the Robertson screwdriver provides a more secure and reliable grip, minimizing the risk of slippage.

  • Phillips Screws: While Phillips screws are widely used, they are notorious for cam-out, especially when driven with power tools. The square socket drive of the Robertson screwdriver significantly reduces the risk of cam-out, providing a more efficient and frustration-free experience.

The superiority of the Robertson screw and screwdriver system has been recognized by independent studies, such as one conducted by Consumer Reports, which declared the Robertson screwdriver far superior to the Phillips screwdriver in terms of slippage and stripped sockets.

The Robertson screw and its accompanying screwdriver have left an indelible mark on the tool industry, revolutionizing the way screws are driven and providing a reliable and efficient solution for carpenters and DIY enthusiasts. The influence of P.L. Robertson’s invention can still be felt today, making the Robertson screwdriver “the biggest little invention of the 20th century so far”.

The Popularity and Impact of the Robertson Screw

The invention of the Robertson screw brought about significant changes in various industries, including automotive manufacturing and construction. Let’s explore the popularity and impact of this revolutionary screw.

Application in Model T Production

When Henry Ford incorporated Robertson screws into the production process of his iconic Model T cars, he experienced a remarkable improvement in efficiency and time-saving. The screws proved to be a valuable asset, allowing for easier and quicker assembly of the vehicles. However, Robertson, the inventor of the screw, declined to license the design exclusively to Ford, leading to limitations in their use. As a result, Robertson screws were primarily utilized in Ford’s Canadian division (Wikipedia).

The Fisher Body company, a manufacturer of car bodies for Ford, was one of Robertson’s early customers. They incorporated over 700 Robertson screws in each Model T car, further demonstrating the significance of these innovative fasteners in the automotive industry.

Licensing and Limitations

Despite the success and time-saving advantages of the Robertson screw, P.L. Robertson refused to license the design exclusively to Henry Ford. This decision prevented the widespread adoption of the screw in Ford’s American operations. As a result, Ford eventually shifted his focus to the development of the Phillips head screw, which gained popularity in the United States.

Robertson Screws Today

Although Robertson screws faced limitations in the past, they have managed to maintain their presence in the tool industry to this day. In fact, they were named Canada’s bestselling product by 1981, showcasing their enduring popularity and importance (Rack-A-Tiers). Robertson screws continue to be commonly used in Canada and have gained recognition in woodworking and general construction. As patents expired and awareness of their advantages spread, their use expanded beyond Canadian borders (Wikipedia).

The durability, security, and ease of use offered by Robertson screws have contributed to their ongoing popularity, making them a preferred choice for carpenters and other professionals in the industry. Their unique square socket drive design provides excellent grip and reduces the likelihood of slippage during fastening. Additionally, their compatibility with combination Robertson/Phillips/slotted screwdrivers makes them versatile and suitable for various applications.

The impact of the Robertson screw in the tool industry cannot be overstated. Its invention revolutionized fastening systems, and its enduring popularity is a testament to its efficiency and effectiveness. P.L. Robertson’s innovation has left a lasting legacy and continues to influence the way we build and assemble various structures and objects.

The Invention of the Robertson Screwdriver

While the history of screws and the invention of the screwdriver paved the way for advancements in fastening technology, it was P.L. Robertson who introduced a game-changing innovation in 1908: the Robertson screwdriver. This screwdriver, along with the matching square-shaped drive system, revolutionized the way screws were fastened.

P.L. Robertson’s Innovation

P.L. Robertson, a Canadian inventor, recognized the limitations of traditional slotted screws and sought to create a more efficient and secure alternative. In 1908, he introduced the Robertson screwdriver, which featured a square-shaped drive system. This design allowed for a snug fit between the screwdriver and the screw, minimizing slipping and stripping issues. The Robertson screwdriver was patented in 1909 (Interesting Engineering).

Features and Advantages of the Robertson Screwdriver

The square-shaped drive system of the Robertson screwdriver provides several advantages over traditional screwdrivers. Some notable features and benefits include:

  • Secure Fastening: The square-shaped drive system offers a more secure grip on the screw, reducing the chances of slippage and stripped sockets. This makes it easier to drive screws into various materials, providing a reliable and sturdy connection.

  • Efficient Operation: The square-shaped drive system allows for easy and quick engagement with the screw, making it more efficient compared to slotted or Phillips screwdrivers. The snug fit between the screw and the driver ensures a smooth and effective driving experience.

  • Durability: The design of the Robertson screwdriver, with its square-shaped drive system, provides a robust and durable tool that can withstand rigorous use. The durability of the screwdriver contributes to its longevity and reliability.

Robertson vs. Phillips Screwdriver

While the Robertson screwdriver offers numerous advantages, it is important to note that the adoption and popularity of this tool vary across regions. The Robertson screwdriver is widely used in Canada, but its usage is less common outside of the country. Instead, the cruciform screw, patented by American Henry F. Phillips, became the international standard during World War II (The Canadian Encyclopedia).

The Robertson screwdriver has been praised for its superior performance compared to the Phillips screwdriver. An independent study conducted by Consumer Reports declared the Robertson screwdriver far superior to the Phillips screwdriver, which is notorious for slippage and stripped sockets. However, it is worth noting that Phillips screwdrivers are more widely available globally.

The Robertson screwdriver, often referred to as “the biggest little invention of the 20th century so far,” has had a significant impact on the tool industry. Its square-shaped drive system continues to be appreciated by carpenters and DIY enthusiasts for its efficiency, security, and durability (The Canadian Encyclopedia).

The Legacy of P.L. Robertson and his Inventions

P.L. Robertson’s contributions to the world of screws and screwdrivers have left a lasting legacy. His inventions, the Robertson screw and the Robertson screwdriver, have revolutionized the tool industry and continue to be used widely today.

The Success of the Robertson Screw

The Robertson screw, also known as the square-socket drive, was a commercial success thanks to P.L. Robertson’s efficient manufacturing technique using cold forming for the screw’s head. He received a patent for the screw in 1909, and it quickly gained popularity for its reliability and ease of use (Wikipedia). The square-socket drive of the Robertson screw provides a secure grip and reduces the likelihood of the screwdriver slipping or camming out, making it a favorite among carpenters and builders.

The Robertson screw’s success can be attributed to its design, which allows for easy installation and removal without stripping or damaging the screw head. Its square-shaped socket provides a tight fit between the screwdriver and the screw, ensuring efficient transfer of torque. This feature has made the Robertson screw a staple in the construction industry, saving time and frustration for builders worldwide.

The Significance of the Robertson Screwdriver

In 1908, P.L. Robertson invented the Robertson screwdriver to complement his revolutionary square-socket drive screw. The screwdriver was patented the following year and has since become an indispensable tool in many toolboxes. The Robertson screwdriver features a square-shaped tip that perfectly matches the square socket of the Robertson screw, allowing for a secure and reliable connection.

The Robertson screwdriver’s design eliminates the frustrations often associated with using other types of screwdrivers. Its square tip fits snugly into the screw, reducing the chances of slipping or camming out. This feature not only makes screwing and unscrewing easier but also helps prevent damage to the screw head. The Robertson screwdriver’s efficiency and effectiveness have made it a favorite among carpenters and DIY enthusiasts.

The Influence on the Tool Industry

P.L. Robertson’s inventions, the Robertson screw and the Robertson screwdriver, have had a significant impact on the tool industry. These inventions introduced a new standard of efficiency and reliability in screw fastening systems.

The success of the Robertson screw and screwdriver paved the way for further advancements in the tool industry. Although the Robertson system is widely used in Canada, it has also gained popularity in other countries, including the United States. Carpenters and builders around the world appreciate the convenience and effectiveness of the Robertson screw and screwdriver.

P.L. Robertson’s contributions have not only improved the functionality of screws and screwdrivers but have also enhanced the overall efficiency and quality of construction projects. His inventions continue to be celebrated for their innovation and reliability, leaving a lasting impact on the tool industry.

By embracing the mighty Robertson screw and its accompanying screwdriver, professionals and DIY enthusiasts alike can conquer any project with ease and confidence.

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