List of screw drives

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Screw drive types
Screw Head - Slotted.svg Slot
Screw Head - Phillips.svg Phillips
Screw Head - Pozidrive.svg Pozidriv (SupaDriv)
Screw Head - Square External.svg Square
Screw Head - Robertson.svg Robertson
Screw Head - Hex External.svg Hex
Screw Head - 12-Point External.png
12-point flange
Screw Head - Hex Socket.svg Hex socket (Allen)
Pin-in-hex socket screw drive 003.png Security hex socket (pin-in-hex-socket)
Screw Head - Torx.svg Torx
T & TX
Screw Head - Torx Tamperproof.svg Security Torx
Screw Head - Tri-wing.svg Tri-Wing
Screw Head - Torq-set.svg Torq-set
Screw Head - Spanner.svg Spanner head
Screw Head - Clutch Type G.svg Clutch
A & G
Screw Head - One-way Clutch.svg One-way
Double-square screw drive 001.png Double-square
Screw Head - Triple Square.svg Triple square
Screw Head - Polydrive.svg Polydrive
Screw Head - Spline.svg Spline drive
Screw Head - Double Hex.svg Double hex
Screw Head - Bristol.svg Bristol
Pentalobular.svg Pentalobe

A screw drive is a system used to turn a screw.[1][2] At a minimum, it is a feature on the screw that allows torque to be applied to it. Usually, it also involves a mating tool, such as a screwdriver, that is used to turn it. The following heads are categorized based on commonality, with the less common drives being classified as "tamper-resistant".

Most heads come in a range of sizes, typically distinguished by a number, such as "Phillips #00" or "Torx T5." These sizes do not necessarily describe a particular dimension of the drive shape, but are often arbitrary designations in the same sense as a "Size 8" dress.

Common types[edit]

External types[edit]

External drives are characterized by a female tool and a male fastener


Screw Head - Square External.svg

Square This screw drive uses square fastener heads. They can be turned with an adjustable wrench, open-end wrench or 8- or 12-point[3] sockets. Common in the 19th and early 20th centuries, when it was easier and thriftier to manufacture than most other drives, it is less common today (although still easy to find) because the external hex is now cost-competitive and allows better access for wrenching despite nearby obstructions, with fewer degrees of swing on each stroke.


Screw Head - Hex External.svg

A hex screw drive uses six-sided fastener heads. The fastener is known as a hex head cap screw. It can be turned with an adjustable wrench, combination wrench and 6- or 12-point sockets. The hex drive is better than square drive for locations where surrounding obstacles limit wrenching access, because smaller wrench-swing arcs can still successfully rotate the fastener.


Regular pentagon.svg

A pentagon screw drive uses five-sided fastener heads. The fastener is known as a penta screw. They require a special five-point socket in order to be turned. Water meter covers, natural gas valves and electrical cabinets are commonly secured with pentagon fasteners. It is also common in the US for fire hydrants to have valves with a pentagon drive.

External Torx[edit]

An External Torx screw head has the shape of a Torx screwdriver bit, and a Torx socket is used to drive it. The external "E" Torx nominal sizing does not correlate to the "T" size (for example, an E40 socket is too large to fit a T40, while an E8 Torx socket will fit a T40 Torx bit[4]).


A "12-point" screw drive uses two overlapped hexagon shapes. Standard 12-point hex socket bits and wrenches fit these screws. The screw heads are typically flanged, and fit standard Allen hex socket cap screw counterbores. Advantages of these bolts include higher torque capability compared to Allen hex sockets, and lack of a recess to trap water. A disadvantage is the extra cost involved in forming the heads.


Thumbscrews for a computer case

A thumbscrew is a type of screw drive with either a tall head and ridged or knurled sides, or a key-like flat sided vertical head. They are intended to be tightened and loosened by hand, and not found in structural applications. They are sometimes also cut for Phillips head and/or slotted screwdrivers as well as having the knurl for finger grip. ASME 18.6.8 covers dimensions for Type A, shoulder under the head, regular and heavy along with Type B, without shoulder, regular and heavy.

Slotted types[edit]


Screw Head - Slotted.svg
Slot drive tool and fastener sizes[5]
Blade width Fastener size
332 in (2.4 mm) 0–1
18 in (3.2 mm) 2
532 in (4.0 mm) 3
316 in (4.8 mm) 4–5
14 in (6.4 mm) 6–7
516 in (7.9 mm) 8–10
38 in (9.5 mm) 12–14
716 in (11 mm) 16–18
12 in (13 mm) 18–24

The slot screw drive has a single slot in the fastener head and is driven by a "common blade" or flat-bladed screwdriver. It was the first type of screw drive to be developed, and for centuries it was the simplest and cheapest to make. The slotted screw is common in simple woodworking applications, but is not often seen in applications where a power tool would be used because a power driver tends to slip out of the head, potentially damaging the surrounding material. The tool used to drive a slot is called a common blade, standard, flat-blade, slot-head, flat-tip[5] or "flat-head/flathead"[6] screwdriver.


Screw head - cross.svg

A double-slot screw drive has two slots, oriented perpendicular to each other, in the fastener head; a slotted screwdriver is still used to drive just one of the slots. This type is usually found in cheaply made roofing bolts and the like, where a thread of 5 mm (0.20 in) or above has a large flattened pan head. The sole advantage is that they provide some measure of redundancy: should one slot be deformed in service, the second may still be used.

Cruciform types[edit]

The following are screw drives based on a cruciform shape, i.e. a cross shape. Other names for these types of drives are cross recessed, cross-head, and cross-point. A double slotted screw drive is not considered cruciform because the shape is not recessed, and consists only of two superimposed simple milled slots.


Screw Head - Phillips.svg
Phillips drive tool and fastener sizes[5]
Tool size Fastener size
0 0–1
1 2–4
2 5–9
3 10–16
4 18–24

The Phillips screw drive was created by John Thompson, who after failing to interest manufacturers, sold his design to businessman Henry F. Phillips.[7] Phillips is credited with forming a company (Phillips Screw Company), improving the design, and promoting the adoption of his product.[7] The original patent expired in 1966, but the Phillips Screw Company continued to develop improved designs.[7]

The American Screw Company of Providence, Rhode Island was responsible for devising a means of efficiently manufacturing the screw, and successfully patented and licensed their method; other screw makers of the 1930s dismissed the Phillips concept because it called 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. The Phillips screw design was developed as a direct solution to a number of problems with slotted screws: easy cam out, precise alignment required to avoid cam out and damage, and difficulty of driving with powered tools.

Phillips drive bits are often designated by the letters "PH",[7] plus a size code 0000, 000, 00, 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 (by order of increasing size); the numerical bit size codes do not necessarily correspond to nominal screw size numbers.[5][8]

A Phillips screw head is significantly different from a PoziDriv;[7] see #Pozidriv section of this article for details.

The design is often criticized for its tendency to cam out at lower torque levels than other "cross head" designs. There has long been a popular belief that this was actually a deliberate feature of the design, for the purpose of assembling aluminum aircraft without overtightening the fasteners.[9] However, evidence is lacking for this suggestion.[10]


Screw Head - Frearson.svg
Frearson vs Phillips.svg

The Frearson screw drive, also known as the Reed and Prince screw drive, is similar to a Phillips but the Frearson has a sharp tip and larger angle in the V shape.[11] One advantage over the Phillips drive is that one driver or bit fits all screw sizes. It is often found in marine hardware and requires a Frearson screwdriver or bit to work properly. The tool recess is a perfect, sharp cross, allowing for higher applied torque, unlike the rounded, tapered Phillips head, which can cam out at high torque. It was developed by an English inventor named Frearson in the 19th century and produced from the late 1930s to the mid-1970s. The Reed & Prince Mfg. Company of Worcester, Massachusetts, was put into bankruptcy in 1987 and liquidated in 1990. Another entity called Reed & Prince Manufacturing Corporation, now of Leominster, Massachusetts, purchased some of the assets including the name at the liquidation sale.[12]

French recess[edit]

French recess driver bit

Also called BNAE NFL22-070 after its Bureau de normalisation de l'aéronautique et de l'espace (French) standard number.

JIS B 1012[edit]

The JIS B 1012 is commonly found in Japanese equipment. It looks like a Phillips screw, but is designed not to cam out and will therefore be damaged by a Phillips screwdriver if it is too tight. Heads are usually identifiable by a single dot or an "X" to one side of the cross slot.[13]

Specific "JIS" standardized cruciform-blade screwdrivers are available for this type of screw.


Screw Head - Mortorq.svg

The Mortorq drive, developed by the Phillips Screw Company, is a format used in automotive and aerospace applications. It is designed to be a lightweight, low-profile and high-strength drive, with full contact over the entire recess wing, reducing risk of stripping.[14]


Screw Head - Pozidrive.svg
Screws with the Pozidriv head.

The Pozidriv (sometimes purposely misspelled Pozidrive to avoid trademark infringement) screw drive is an improved version of the Phillips screw drive. Pozidriv was jointly patented by the Phillips Screw Company and American Screw Company. The name is thought to be a portmanteau of the words "positive" and "drive." Its advantage over Phillips drives is its decreased likelihood to cam out, which allows greater torque to be applied.[15][16][17][7] In ANSI standards, it is referred to as "Type IA."[18] It is very similar to, and essentially compatible with, the Supadriv screw drive.[19]

Pozidriv drive bits are often designated by the letters "PZ" plus a size code of 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 (by order of increasing size);[7] the numerical bit size codes do not necessarily correspond to nominal screw size numbers.

Attempting to use a Phillips screwdriver bit is likely to cause damage because the design difference between them is fairly significant even though at first glance they appear to be very similar.[7] A Phillips driver has an angle on the flanks, a pointed tip and rounded corners. The Pozidriv screwdrivers have straight sided flanks, a blunt tip and additional smaller ribs at 45° to the main slots.[7] The Pozidriv was designed specifically to allow much greater torque to be applied because of its more positive engagement.[7]

The Pozidriv screws are visually distinguishable from Phillips by a set of radial indentations (or "tick marks") set at 45° from the main cross recess on the head of the screw.[7] The manufacturing process for Pozidriv screwdriver bits is slightly more complex. The Phillips driver has four simple slots cut into it, whereas in the Pozidriv each slot is the result of two machining processes at right angles. The result of this is that the arms of the cross are parallel-sided with the Pozidriv, and tapered with the Phillips.[15]

The chief disadvantage of Pozidriv screws is that they are visually quite similar to Phillips; thus many people are unaware of the difference and/or do not own the correct drivers for them, and often use an incorrect screwdriver. This results in difficulty with removing the screw and damage to the recess and/or driver, often rendering any subsequent use of a correct screwdriver unsatisfactory. Phillips screwdrivers will loosely fit in and turn Pozidriv screws, but will cam out if enough torque is applied, potentially damaging the screw head and or driver. Because the drive wings on a Pozidriv screwdriver are square edged, their fit in a Phillips screw head is even worse, so they are more likely to slip or tear out the screw head.[7]


Screw Head - Supadrive.svg

The Supadriv (sometimes spelled incorrectly as "Supadrive") screw drive is very similar in function and appearance to Pozidriv—indeed, the two are often thought to be identical—and is a later development by the same company. The description of the Pozidriv head applies also to Supadriv. While each has its own driver,[20] the same screwdriver heads may be used for both types without damage; for most purposes it is unnecessary to distinguish between the two drives. Pozidriv and Supadriv screws are slightly different in detail; the later Supadriv allows a small angular offset between the screw and the screwdriver, while Pozidriv has to be directly in line.[21][22]

In detail, the Supadriv screwhead is similar to Pozidriv but has only two identification ticks, and the secondary blades are larger. Drive blades are about equal thickness. The main practical difference is in driving screws into vertical surfaces: that close to a near vertical surface to drive the screws into the drivers, Supadriv has superior bite, making screwdriving more efficient, with less cam out.[20]


Screw Head - Robertson.svg
Close-up of a Robertson screw

A Robertson, also known as a square[23] or Scrulox[24] 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 slight taper. Originally to make the manufacture of the screws practical using cold forming of the heads,[25] this taper provides two other advantages which have served to popularize the drive: it makes inserting the tool easier, and tends to help keep the screw on the tool tip without the user needing to hold it there. Robertson screws are commonplace in Canada, though they have been used elsewhere[26] 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.[26] 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.[26] In industry, they speed up production and reduce product damage.[26]

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 covering both 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.[25] 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,[25] 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 licensee company into bankruptcy and purchased the rights from the trustee, thus circumventing the original agreement.[citation needed] Robertson spent a small fortune buying back the rights, and subsequently refused to allow anyone else to make the screws under license. When Henry Ford tried out the Robertson screws, he found that they saved considerable time in Model T production, but when Robertson refused to license the screw design, Ford realized that the supply of screws would not be guaranteed and chose to limit their use in production to Ford's Canadian division.[27][28][29] Robertson's refusal to license his screws prevented their widespread adoption in the United States, where the more widely-licensed Phillips head gained wider 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.

Robertson-head screwdrivers are available in range of tip sizes. A given driver's suitability for use with a particular size of screw and recess size is indicated upon its handle according to the following color code:

Recess dimensions[30][31]
Color Screw sizes Fraction Range
Orange (#00) #1, #2 1/16 in.+ .05 in (1.27mm)[32]
Yellow (#0) #3, #4 3/32 in.- 0.0696–0.071 in (1.77–1.80 mm)
Green (#1) #5, #6,[note 1] #7 7/64 in.+ 0.090–0.091 in (2.3–2.3 mm)
Red (#2) # 8, #9, #10 1/8 in.+ 0.111–0.1126 in (2.82–2.86 mm)
Black (#3) #12, 1/4 3/16 in.+ 0.1315–0.133 in (3.34–3.38 mm)
Brown (#4) 5/16, 3/8 3/16 in.+ 0.1895–0.191 in (4.81–4.85 mm)

Double-square and triple-square drives are 2 or 3 squares superimposed (respectively), forming an 8-pointed or 12-pointed star—in other words, 2 or 3 Robertson squares superimposed at 45° or 30° rotation. The recessed cavity is compatible with a square (Robertson) driver, but can be engaged at more different angles by the driver bit.

Hex socket[edit]

Main article: Hex key
Screw Head - Hex Socket.svg
Hex socket screws

The hex socket screw drive has a hexagonal recess and may be driven by a hex wrench, also known as an Allen wrench, Allen key, hex key or inbus as well as by a hex screwdriver (also known as a hex driver) or bit. Tamper-resistant versions with a pin in the recess are available.

The German company Bauer & Schaurte patented the hex socket 1936 in Germany, and offered products based on it to the market. The abbreviation "Inbus" is derived from "Innensechskant Bauer & Schurte", analogous to the US use of "Allen key".

Hexalobular socket[edit]

Main article: Torx
Screw Head - Torx.svg

The hexalobular socket screw drive, often referred to by the original proprietary brand name Torx (pronounced "torks") or by the alternate generic name star drive, uses a star-shaped recess in the fastener with six rounded points. It was designed to permit increased torque transfer from the driver to the bit compared to other drive systems. Torx is very popular in the automotive and electronics industries because of resistance to cam out and extended bit life, as well as reduced operator fatigue by minimizing the need to bear down on the drive tool to prevent cam out. Torx-Plus is an improved version of Torx that extends tool life even further and permits greater torque transfer compared to Torx. A tamper-resistant Torx head has a small pin inside the recess. The tamper-resistant Torx is also made in a five-lobed variant. These "5-star" Torx configurations are commonly encountered in prisons, public facilities and government schools, but can also be found in some electronic devices.

Owing to its six-fold symmetry, a Torx driver can also be used as an impromptu substitute for a hex driver, although careful sizing is critical to prevent stripping the socket.

The drive was developed in 1967[33] by Camcar Textron.[34]

An External Torx version exists, where the screw head has the shape of a Torx screwdriver bit, and a Torx socket is used to drive it. The external "E" Torx nominal sizing does not correlate to the "T" size (for example, an E40 socket is too large to fit a E40, while an E8 Torx socket will fit a T40 Torx bit[4]). These screws are most commonly encountered in the motor industry.


Main article: TTAP
Screw Head - TTAP.svg

TTAP is an improved hexalobular screw drive that reduces wobbling between the fastener and the tool. TTAP is backward compatible with standard hexalobular tools.


Double-square screw drive. Similar in concept to square (Robertson) and triple-square.

Double-square drive is 2 squares superimposed, forming an 8-pointed star. In other words, 2 Robertson squares superimposed at 45° rotation. This is similar to that of the triple-square. The concept is that of a square drive (Robertson) but can be caught at more frequent angles by the driver bit.

Combination drives[edit]

Flat Phillips combo drive screw head.png

Some screws have heads designed to accommodate more than one kind of driver, sometimes referred to as combo-head or combi-head. The most common of these is a combination of a slotted and Phillips head, often used in attaching knobs to furniture drawer fronts. Because of its prevalence, there are now drivers made specifically for this kind of screw head. Other combinations are a Phillips and Robertson, a Robertson and a slotted, a Torx and a slotted and a triple-drive screw that can take a slotted, Phillips or a Robertson. The Recex drive system claims it offers the combined non-slip convenience of a Robertson drive during production assembly and Phillips for after market serviceability. Quadrex is another Phillips/Robertson drive. The Phillips Screw Company offers both Phillips and Pozidriv combo heads with Robertson.[citation needed]

Combined slotted/pozidriv heads are so ubiquitous in electrical switchgear to have earned the nickname "electrician's screws" (the first screwdriver out of the toolbox is used, and the user does not have to waste valuable time searching for the correct driver). Their rise to popular use has been in spite of the fact that neither a flat screwdriver or Pozidriv screwdriver are fully successful in driving these screws to the required torque. Some screwdriver manufacturers offer matching screwdrivers and call them "contractor screwdrivers", although the original concept of not needing to search for a particular driver being defeated as a contractor screwdriver is useless for non-combination heads. Slotted/Phillips (as opposed to slotted/pozidriv) heads occur in some North American-made switchgear.[citation needed]


Screw Head - Quadrex.svg

The Phillips/square screw drive, also known as the Quadrex or (confusingly) Pozisquare screw drive, is a combination of the Phillips and Robertson screw drives. While a standard Phillips or Robertson tool can be used, there is also a dedicated tool for it that increases the surface area between the tool and the fastener so it can handle more torque.[35] This drive was formerly also sold by the Home Depot under the name Deck Mate, which now signifies another drive.


A combined slotted and Torx drive screw was used in electronics manufacturing. For example, Compaq used this type to combine the benefits of Torx in manufacturing and the commonality of flat drive in field repair situations. The slot was closed on the ends to avoid the flat blade tool slipping and thereby damaging the electronics.

Tamper-resistant types[edit]

A set of "secure" or otherwise less common screwdriver bits, including secure Torx and secure hex or "allen" variants.

Most of the following screw drives are considered tamper-resistant because of their obscurity. The exceptions to this are the double hex and triple square screw drives that can be removed with standard hex or square screw bits. The first class of tamper-resistant drives is commonly used on equipment such as home electronics, used to prevent easy access thereby reducing the incidence of damage or improper repair. Equally, this can prevent people with the relevant technical knowledge from possibly performing a repair without having to return the unit to the manufacturer. However, widespread recent availability of assorted drive bits (including security types) minimizes this advantage, at least for some security types. True tamper-resistant screw drives include the breakaway head and one-way screw drives.

In addition to screw drives, various nut drives have been designed to make removal difficult without specialized tools. Proprietary examples include T-Groove, Slot-Lok, Pentagon, Tork-Nut, T-Slope and Spanner designs.[36]

Breakaway head[edit]

The breakaway head (also called breakoff or shear fasteners)[37] may be a high-security fastener whose head breaks off during installation, during or immediately after the driving process, to leave only a smooth surface. It typically consists of a countersunk flat-head bolt, with a thin shank and hex head protruding from the flat head. The hex head is used to drive the bolt into the countersunk hole, then either a wrench or hammer is used to break the shank and hex head from the flat head, or it is driven until the driving head shears off. Either method leaves only a smooth bolt head exposed. This type of bolt is commonly used in prison door locks, automobile ignition switches, and street signs, to prevent easy removal. An alternative design leaves a low-profile button head visible after installation.[37] In addition to breakaway bolts, breakaway nuts of similar design are available.[38]

In non-security applications, a breakaway head fastener is sometimes used as a crude torque limiter, intended to break off at an approximate torque limit. For example, certain toilet seat fastener bolts use a breakaway plastic nut, with the driver part intended to shear at a torque high enough to prevent wobbling, while not shattering the porcelain toilet from excessive pressure. Breakaway fasteners used in a non-security application may have a second driveable surface (such as a hex head) to allow later removal or adjustment of the fastener after the initial breakaway installation.

This drive type has the disadvantage of not being as precisely controlled as can be obtained by proper use of a torque wrench; applications may still fail due to either too little torque being applied to correctly fasten the joint, or too much torque being required to shear the head, resulting in damage to the material being fastened.[citation needed]


Screw Head - Bristol.svg

The Bristol screw drive is a spline with four or six splines, which are not necessarily tamper resistant.[39] The grooves in the wrench are cut by a square-cornered broach, giving a slight undercut to the outer corners of the driver. The main advantage to this drive system is that almost all of the turning force is applied at right angles to the fastener spline face, which reduces the possibility of stripping the fastener. For this reason Bristol screw drives are often used in softer, non-ferrous metals. Compared to an Allen drive, Bristol drives are less likely to strip for the same amount of torque; however, the Bristol drive is not much more strip-resistant than a Torx drive.[citation needed] It was created by the Bristol Wrench Company.

This type of drive is commonly used in avionics, higher-end communications equipment, cameras, air brakes, construction and farm equipment, astronomy equipment and military equipment. Variants with a pin in the center are often found in game systems.


Screw Head - Clutch Type A.svg
Screw Head - Clutch Type G.svg
A type A clutch head screw.

There are two types of clutch screw drives: type A and type G. Type A, also known as a standard clutch resembles a bow tie. These were common in GM automobiles, trucks and buses of the 1940s and 1950s. Type G resembles a butterfly. This type of screw head is commonly used in the manufacture of mobile homes and recreational vehicles.[citation needed] Type G is not necessarily tamper-resistant because it can be removed with a flat-blade screwdriver.


Two projections opposite each other.

Double hex[edit]

Screw Head - Double Hex.svg

Double hex is a screw drive with a socket shaped as two coaxial offset hexes. Its shape is similar to triple square and spline screw drives, but they are incompatible. Standard hex keys can be used with these sockets.

The radial "height" of each arris is reduced, compared to a six-point, although their number is doubled. They are potentially capable of allowing more torque than a six-point, but greater demands are placed on the metallurgy of the heads and the tools used, to avoid rounding off.[citation needed]


Screw head - line male.svg
Screw head - line female.svg
Screw head - line female tamper.svg

The line screw drive is a Japanese system with male, female and female tamper-resistant screw configurations. The fasteners are commonly called line head screws. They are also known as game bit screws, due to their use on some video game consoles. They are found on IBM computers and Nintendo systems. The female sizes are designated ALR2, ALR3, ALR4, ALR5, ALR6; the male sizes are designated with an "H" instead of an "R"; and the tamper-resistant female have a "T" at the end of the designation (e.g. ALR3T).[1]


Screw Head - One-way Clutch.svg
A one-way slotted screw

One-way screws are special screws that can only be turned in one direction. They are sometimes called one-way clutch screws, but should not be confused with true "clutch" screws. They can be installed with a standard flat-blade screwdriver, but cannot be easily removed using standard tools. One-way screws are commonly used in commercial restroom fixtures and on vehicle registration plates, to prevent vandals from tampering with them.

One-way screws are only practical when the need for removal is unlikely. They are difficult to remove with conventional tools because the slot is designed to cause cam out when even minimal torque is applied in the direction to unscrew it. Instead, a special removal tool (a one-way screw extractor) must be used. Alternatively, a one-way screw can be removed by using a drill bit, by using a rotary tool and cutting disk to extend the slot, by using locking pliers, or by drilling two holes in the slot and removing the screw with a pin spanner (snake-eyes driver). It can also be removed by attaching the drill chuck right to the screw head in a manner similar to removing screws that have broken heads.[40]


Main article: Pentalobe screw

The pentalobe screw drive (often mistaken for 5-point torx screw drives) is a five-pointed tamper-resistant system being implemented by Apple in its products.[41] Apple's first use of the pentalobe drive was in mid-2009 to secure the battery in the MacBook Pro. Smaller versions are now used on the iPhone 4 and subsequent models, the MacBook Air (since the late 2010 model), the MacBook Pro with Retina Display and the 2015 MacBook. Inexpensive pentalobe screwdrivers, manufactured by third parties, are relatively easy to obtain.[42] Pentalobe screw sizes include TS1 (also known as P2 or 0.8 mm, used on the iPhone 4 and subsequent models), TS4 (also known as P5 or 1.2 mm, used on the MacBook Air [since late 2010], the MacBook Pro with Retina Display and the 2015 MacBook) and TS5 (also known as P6 or 1.5 mm, used on the 2009 MacBook Pro battery). The TS designation is ambiguous as it is also used for a Torq-set screw drive.


Screw Head - Polydrive.svg

The polydrive screw drive, also known as RIBE,[43] is spline-shaped with rounded ends in the fastener head. The tool has six flat-tip teeth at equal spacing; the sizes are determined by the diameter of the star points. Its primary advantage over older screw drives is that it resists camming out. It is used primarily in the automotive industry in high-torque applications, such as brakes and driveshafts.

Proprietary head[edit]

There are specialty fastener companies that make unusual, proprietary head designs, featuring matching drivers available only from them, and only supplied to registered owners.[44] These tend to be confined to industrial uses that are unavailable to the average layperson. One example familiar to laypersons is the attachment for the wheels and/or spare tires of some types of cars; one of the nuts on each wheel may require a specialized socket, provided with the car, to deter theft. Security fasteners are also available for bicycle wheels and seats.

Protruding obstacle or pin type[edit]

Tamper-resistant Torx driverScrew Head - Torx and Hex with pin.svg

A protruding obstacle screw drive is a common modification to socket and cruciform style drives to make the fastener more tamper resistant by inserting a pin in the fastener screw drive, requiring a tool with a corresponding hole to drive the fastener. This can also prevent attempts at turning the screw with a small flat-bladed screwdriver. Sometimes the hole is slightly off-center.[citation needed]


Screw Head - Spanner.svg

The spanner[45] or snake eyes (trademarked)[46] screw drive uses two round holes opposite each other and is designed to prevent tampering. Other informal names include pig nose, drilled head or twin hole.[47]

This type is often seen in elevators and restrooms in the United States, the London Underground in the United Kingdom, some train wagons and the Montreal Metro in Montreal, Quebec. The driving tool is called a "spanner driver" or "spanner screwdriver"[48] in the US, and a "pin spanner" in the UK.[citation needed] They are also often used for soft spikes on golf shoes.

The knife and gun manufacturer Microtech uses a variation of this with 3 round holes arranged in a triangle shape. The camera company Leica Camera has used versions of this on rewind knobs and other levers on their rangefinder cameras.


Screw Head - Spline.svg

The spline screw drive has twelve splines in the fastener and tool. It consists of 12 equally spaced tips, each with a 60° angle. It is achieved overlaying 4 equilateral triangles each one rotated 30° over the previous one. Spline drives are sized via numbers. Its primary advantage is its ability to resist camming out, therefore it is used in high-torque applications, such as tamper-proof lug nuts, cylinder head bolts, and other engine bolts.


Screw Head - Torq-set.svg
A set of torq-set bits

Torq-set is a cruciform screw drive used in torque-sensitive applications.[49] The Torq-set head is similar in appearance to a Phillips drive in that it has a cross with 4 arms. In Torq-set however, the lines are offset from each other, so they do not align to form intersecting slots across the top of the head. Because of this, a regular Phillips or flat-blade screwdriver will not fit the head. It is used in aerospace applications, e.g., the B-2 stealth bomber.[49] Phillips Screw Company owns the name and produces the fasteners.

The applicable standards that govern the Torq-set geometry are National Aerospace Standard NASM 33781 and NASM 14191 for the ribbed version. The ribbed version is also known as ACR Torq-set.[50]


Screw Head - TA.svg

The TA is a type of screw drive that uses a triangle-shaped recess in the screw head. Note that the sides of the triangle are straight, which differs from TP3 fasteners. Sizes include TA14, TA18, TA20, TA23 and TA27.[51] These screws are often found in children's toys, particularly from fast food restaurants. They can also be found in devices such as vacuum cleaners, fan heaters, elevators, camping stoves, Breville kettles and Master Locks, among others, to help restrict access to the device internals.


Oral-B rechargeable toothbrush, showing the TP3 headed screw used to hold the case together. When the rechargeable battery is no longer serviceable, the toothbrush may be dismantled with this screw and the battery and motor units sent separately for recycling. The battery charger has a moulded screwdriver on its case.

Screw Head - TP3.svg

TP3 (sometimes referred to as tri-lobe) is a type of screw drive that uses a Reuleaux Triangle-shaped recess in the screw head.[52] It is used on fast food promotional toys and video games, die-cast toys and Roomba battery packs. There are four sizes: A = 2 mm, 2.3 mm, 2.7 mm and 3.2 mm.



First row: Tri-Wing bits and screw head. Beneath: Tri-Point/Y-Type.

The tri-point, security screw head is similar to the Phillips screw head, but it has three points rather than four. These specialized screws are usually used on electronics equipment, including the Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Advance SP, Sanyo and Kyocera cellular telephones and Fuji digital cameras. [53]


Screw Head - Tri-wing.svg

The tri-wing, also known as triangular slotted, is a screw with three slotted "wings" and a small triangular hole in the center. The design was adapted by some parts of the aerospace industry, led by Lockheed in the early 1970s on the L-1011, but met with mixed results due to complaints of insert damage during installation. McDonnell Douglas also used this as a primary fastener on its commercial aircraft. In the present day it is usually used on electronics equipment.

A variation has the three "wings" joined in the center, but with no triangular hole. It is commonly used on Nintendo products. Some Nokia Phone chargers use tri-wing screws. Apple uses Y1 screws to secure the battery on the 2010 and 2011 MacBook Pro. Microsoft's Zune also uses this type on some models. Nikon also uses this type of screws on some equipment like the SB-700 flash.

A somewhat similar-looking design where three short radial slots are not joined in the center is called a tri-groove screw drive. The version with same design but reverse threads is called an Opsit screw, where unscrewing can be done by turning the screwdriver clockwise, which is the opposite of Tri-Wing and regular screws.[54]

Triple square[edit]

Screw Head - Triple Square.svg

6 mm and 8 mm triple square drivers
End view of 10 mm triple square screw

The triple square, also known as XZN, is a type of screw drive with 12 equally spaced tips, each with a 90° angle. Common sizes are 6, 8, 10, and 12 mm. Its name derives from overlaying three equal squares to form such a pattern with 12 right-angled tips (a 12-pointed star). In other words, 3 Robertson squares superimposed at 30° rotation. The concept is similar to that of the double-square—in both cases, the idea being that it's like a square (Robertson) but can be caught at more frequent angles by the driver bit. These screws can be removed with standard Robertson bits.

Triple square drives are often used in high-torque applications, such as cylinder head bolts and drive train components. The heads are hardened and tempered to withstand the driving torque without destroying the star points.

Triple square fasteners are commonly found on German vehicles such as Audi, BMW, Opel, Mercedes, Porsche and Volkswagen.[55]

Alternative categorizations[edit]

There are various other ways to categorize screw drives. One way is by shape of the fastener screw drive:

  • External
    • Hex
    • Line (ALH)
    • Square
  • Socket heads
    • Bristol
    • Clutch
    • Double hex
    • Hex socket
    • Hexalobular socket
    • Line (ALR)
    • Polydrive
    • Robertson
    • Spline
    • TP3
    • Triple square


  1. ^ Some specialty #6 Robertson screws require a Red #2 driver.


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External links[edit]