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Benchwork completed - lessons learned

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Benchwork completed - lessons learned
Posted by wesno on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 7:50 PM

My benchwork on my 3rd layout in 35 years is now about done.  Here's what I learned.  Just my opinions - not the Gospel...

 
  1. I use poplar for 1X stock (1x2, 1x3, 1x4) and yellow pine for 2X stock.  I don’t use white pine.  Reasoning:  poplar, in particular, and yellow pine to a lesser extent, appear to be denser than the soft white pine.  This results in less splitting and better holding of screws.
  2. I don’t use 1X1’s for anything.  I find it’s just too easy to split, even with poplar.  Also, the wider board gives you more leeway when screwing the board to another board.  I use at least a 1X2.
  3. I use Torx head screws only.  I use mostly #6 and #8 size screws with #10 only on really heavy duty jobs.  The way the Torx head driver fits so snugly into the screws is a huge win for me.  I used to use drywall screws but the Phillips head is not as reliable and the thread thickness on the Torx head screws seem to hold better.  This is the single biggest recommendation I can make.
  4. I purchased a Right Angle Drill Attachment.  It snaps into your quick-release chuck and lets you snap a quick release bit into the business end so that the bit is at a right angle to the drill’s barrel.  I try very hard to allow enough room to drill my holes and screws into the benchwork but sometimes I really need to drill in a tight space.  Depending on the style you get, you can drill in some pretty tight places.
  5. I ALWAYS drill a pilot hole before drilling a screw into the benchwork;  no exceptions.  And almost without exception, I clamp the pieces together before drilling to insure nothing moves and I get a secure, tight screw-down.  A quick way to do this is to get a 3-pack of pilot hole bits with quick disconnect ends.  You insert the right size pilot hole drill bit, drill your hole and then swap out the bit for the Torx head screwholder. If you have 2 drills, that’s even faster.
  6. As a personal preference, I avoid having vertical legs on the “aisle” side of my layout.  I was able to design my layout so that it always runs along a wall and comes out no more than 24”.  I lagbolt 2X4’s to the wall and then use 45 degree 1X4 bracing to support the horizontal members that protrude out from the wall.  These serve as joists and onto them I fasten other 1X4s at a 90 degree angle to serve as girders.  Onto these I screw the risers and cleats.
  7. When positioning riser/cleats, pay special attention to where you’ll be placing your turnouts, especially if you’ll be adding switch machines later.  You’ll want to make sure you have enough room to work underneath to mount the switch machine.
  8. When preparing to attach a riser/cleat to the underside of the roadbed, if the roadbed is on a grade, I first screw the cleat to the riser at a 90 degree angle.  I clamp the riser to the girder such that the riser/cleat is touching the underside of the roadbed on one side.  You will see that there is an angled slice of light shining through.  Use a digital caliper to measure the thickest part of the slice.  The value of the measurement is meaningless.  Just lock your caliper to freeze the measurement.  Unclamp the riser/cleat.  Use your frozen measurement and mark on the correct end of the cleat that measurement.  Now, draw a line from that mark to the other end of the cleat.  You now have a close approximation of the “light slice” replicated on your end of your cleat.  Use a disk sander or a belt sander to sand down the cleat to get just to the line you drew.  Now, you should be able to position the riser/cleat on the girder and its slope will be close enough to the slope of the roadbed that you’ll be able to screw it in and things will match pretty darn close.
  9. I used 3rd PlanIt software to plan my layout.  While the learning curve was a bit steep, I’m convinced I got a much smoother running layout than if I’d tried to devise it any other way.  This was my third layout in 35 years and this one went much smoother than anything before.  One thing that 3rd PlanIt can do is create cutting plans to have your roadbed cut out on a CNC router.   The 3rd PlanIt developer actually can use those plans to cut out as many pieces as necessary which, when glued together with epoxy, forms your complete layout.  I took that route and am very glad I did.  The cutting plans takes into account elevation changes and it engraves the track plan on the roadbed pieces.  Yes, it is more expensive than transferring the plans to plywood and cutting it out yourself but I’m convinced that the final result was MUCH closer to matching my original track plan than if I’d done it myself.  The pieces are fabricated using 1/4" thick Baltic Birch.  While this thickness is normally a bit thin, Baltic Birch has no voids and is unusually dense;  it works great.  However, in order to screw the roadbed to the 1X2 cleats, I found it necessary to use CA glue to attach a small piece of 1/4" plywood to the underside and use 1” screws to attach the cleat.  You may find this technique handy if your roadbed is a bit thin and you need to screw something to its underside.
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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 9:39 PM

Great observations in your post.

Thank you.

My thoughts for my layout:

1) I decided to use 1 by premium pine for structural members and 1 by PVC for fascia/profile boards.

2) No 1 by 1 material here either.

3) I am comfortable with phillips head fasteners. I do not use drywall screws, but outdoor rated construction screws or roofing/lath screws depending on the application.

4) I bought an angle drill for about $60.00 at Menard's in Ohio. It was worth every penny! What a handy tool to have.

5) I am also a proponent of pilot holes, and counter sinks.

6) I went with steel legs for my design. They are set back about 4 inches from the layout edge.

7) Turnout placement must be determined prior to risers like you said. If not, you will become frustrated.

8) I only have one grade planned on the layout. Hopefully I can get away with it, it is pretty steep, about 5.5%.

9) I designed my layout in 1:1 scale out of cardboard. I know everything will fit as planned.

-Kevin

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Posted by dknelson on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 10:14 AM

Very interesting observations.

I'd say this.  Pine ain't what it used to be.  Neither is plywood but pine in particular seems genetically modified to grow fast but there doesn't seem to be any "there" in the material.  It is disheartening to drive a screw into pine and watch go in deeper and deeper and deeper .....

I'm glad I bought most of my layout wood when I did. And it isn't like I was overjoyed with it back then either.  

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Posted by snjroy on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 10:42 AM

Excellent observations. I learned a few of these the hard way... A few points I would add:

1) The type of lumber will likely vary by region. In my neck of the woods, spruce is the most common wood for this type of construction. I used 1X4 for my benchwork. Pre-drilling is essential when using spruce.

2) For risers, I used 3/4'' plywood. I did not regret that. 

3) For the supports that touch the floor base, I added some height adjustor screws - there is no such thing as a straight floor!

4) To keep my shelf layout and risers at level, I bought an inexpensive lazer tool, which works fine for short distances (12' in my case).

Simon

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Posted by rrebell on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 10:52 AM

I used regular pine 1x4 but but you have to go through the stack to find good ones. I use construction screws, rairly predrill it they are new boards, never seem to have a split except once or twice, my fault (you have to pre drill on older pine or it will split.

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Posted by Pruitt on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 10:59 AM

My thoughts:

1. Dimensional lumber is good for L-Girders and not much else. 3/4" Oak plywood is great for cross-members, joists, grid box construction, etc. It's much more stable than dimensional lumber and cheaper to boot. Using cleats so you're not driving screws into the edges is a downside, but not much of one.

2. Completely agree about the Torx fasteners. Phillips beats straight, but Torx puts both to shame.

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Posted by carl425 on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 12:11 PM

wesno
I use poplar for 1X stock (1x2, 1x3, 1x4) and yellow pine for 2X stock.

Yellow pine is harder than poplar.

wesno
When preparing to attach a riser/cleat to the underside of the roadbed, if the roadbed is on a grade

I set my chop saw at an angle that matches the grade when cutting risers.  It doesn't matter if there is an unnecessary angle on the bottom of the risers.  I use pocket holes in the tops of the risers instead of cleats.

wesno
The pieces are fabricated using 1/4" thick Baltic Birch.

Randy cut mine out of 1/2" BB.

I agree with most of the rest of what you said.

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, July 30, 2020 9:19 AM

wesno

My benchwork on my 3rd layout in 35 years is now about done.  Here's what I learned.  Just my opinions - not the Gospel...

I too have just about finished benchwork on my layout ...

I don’t use 1X1’s for anything.  I find it’s just too easy to split, even with poplar.  Also, the wider board gives you more leeway when screwing the board to another board.  I use at least a 1X2.
 
Does anyone use 1x1's?  1x2 is the smallest I use as well.
 
I use Torx head screws only.  I use mostly #6 and #8 size screws with #10 only on really heavy duty jobs.  The way the Torx head driver fits so snugly into the screws is a huge win for me.  I used to use drywall screws but the Phillips head is not as reliable and the thread thickness on the Torx head screws seem to hold better.  This is the single biggest recommendation I can make.
 
I've used phillips head and star head (probalby like Torx) and I've gotten by ok with phillips but star head do work much better.
 
I purchased a Right Angle Drill Attachment.  It snaps into your quick-release chuck and lets you snap a quick release bit into the business end so that the bit is at a right angle to the drill’s barrel.  I try very hard to allow enough room to drill my holes and screws into the benchwork but sometimes I really need to drill in a tight space.  Depending on the style you get, you can drill in some pretty tight places.
 
Probably a good idea. I have two drills, a standard and a impact drill.  The impact drill is much more compact and I've found it gets in most tighter spaces the stasmrd still is too long for.
 
I ALWAYS drill a pilot hole before drilling a screw into the benchwork;  no exceptions.  And almost without exception, I clamp the pieces together before drilling to insure nothing moves and I get a secure, tight screw-down.  A quick way to do this is to get a 3-pack of pilot hole bits with quick disconnect ends.  You insert the right size pilot hole drill bit, drill your hole and then swap out the bit for the Torx head screwholder. If you have 2 drills, that’s even faster.
 
Seems like commmon sense but it's worth repeating for those unfamiliar with working with wood.  But all you have to do is try putting some screws in such as #8's and you split enough wood that you quickly learn a pilot hole is allways needed.  I also countersink my holes as well.
 
As a personal preference, I avoid having vertical legs on the “aisle” side of my layout.  I was able to design my layout so that it always runs along a wall and comes out no more than 24”.  I lagbolt 2X4’s to the wall and then use 45 degree 1X4 bracing to support the horizontal members that protrude out from the wall.  These serve as joists and onto them I fasten other 1X4s at a 90 degree angle to serve as girders.  Onto these I screw the risers and cleats.
 
That is one solution - bit more complicated than simple legs with cross braces.  But if someone is worried about kicking or the legs interfering with feet, you can also mount them in-set enough to not be in the way.  That is what I did.  And my legs are 8 feet apart as well.  
 
When positioning riser/cleats, pay special attention to where you’ll be placing your turnouts, especially if you’ll be adding switch machines later.  You’ll want to make sure you have enough room to work underneath to mount the switch machine.
 
smThat can be helpful but you may also have to plan where cross members go on the plans to avoid those situations, which can take a lot of planning ahead and even so, you may end up with one or two conflicts, but they are often easily sold post build with a linkage or something.  I'm planning to try to use mostly finger flick turnouts and avoid switch machines as much as possible on my next layout.  It's alot easier to reach out and throw a turnout than hunt it down on a control panel, at least where ever possible.  Some may be out of reach and of course switch machines may be needed.
 
When preparing to attach a riser/cleat to the underside of the roadbed, if the roadbed is on a grade, I first screw the cleat to the riser at a 90 degree angle.  I clamp the riser to the girder such that the riser/cleat is touching the underside of the roadbed on one side.  You will see that there is an angled slice of light shining through.  Use a digital caliper to measure the thickest part of the slice.  The value of the measurement is meaningless.  Just lock your caliper to freeze the measurement.  Unclamp the riser/cleat.  Use your frozen measurement and mark on the correct end of the cleat that measurement.  Now, draw a line from that mark to the other end of the cleat.  You now have a close approximation of the “light slice” replicated on your end of your cleat.  Use a disk sander or a belt sander to sand down the cleat to get just to the line you drew.  Now, you should be able to position the riser/cleat on the girder and its slope will be close enough to the slope of the roadbed that you’ll be able to screw it in and things will match pretty darn close.
 
I've never used cleats before although I've seen them in books and articles.  They do seem like they could make adjusting easeier, but I try to caculate my grades well enough that only very minor tweaking may be need with a shim or two - check and recheck everything as I go to make sure it's even and following calculated grade.
 
Previous layout with subroadbed on an even 2.9% incline.
 
 
Current layout incline at 1.8%.
 
 
[quoteI used 3rd PlanIt software to plan my layout.  While the learning curve was a bit steep, I’m convinced I got a much smoother running layout than if I’d tried to devise it any other way.  [/quote]
 
I've used software for graphics and maps etc. when in grad school so have nothing against it.  But I have decent enough drafting skills with graph paper, compass, scale rule etc. that I can draw out a track plan to scale and it comes out quite well in real life based on room measurements.
 
 
I made checks in 1:1 scale as I went to be sure my scale drawing scaled out in real life as I went and so far it's been very close. 
 
 
It may depend on ones old school drafting skills and then translating it to full size.  Certainly software tools may be a very good option for many.  I find I can visualize better with room boundaries drawn on 11x17 graph paper than on a computer screen.  I found this back in grad school when working with diagrams and maps when working on my master of science thesis.  It often depends on how you think and visualize.  Computers have gotten better since then and screens much bigger, which helps in the software dept.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Thursday, July 30, 2020 3:03 PM

In Canada we of course use the Robertson screw in preference to all other types. We find it odd when travelling to countries where this excellent screwhead design is not used. 

True Robertson sockets are tapered so you can easily jam a screw onto the driver bit which holds it in place and then jam the point of that screw (one handed) into that softwood and drive it. Deck screws are ideal for benchwork as they pretty much self tap and self pilot. With well made threads you don't need a pilot hole unless you are into small dimension lumber, less than 1.5 inches wide. Ironically, pilot holes are necessary when you use good hard wood (that's hard wood, not hardwood which often isn't very hard). 

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Posted by rrebell on Friday, July 31, 2020 11:57 AM

You are building a layout, not a house. On my last layout with finished scenery, I gringed when my disabled friend thought it was alright to brace himself on my layout. I said nothing but inspected it after he left (it was 1x4 box with 2" foam covered in plaster cloth with masonite  facia), no damage at all and he was around 300lb.

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, July 31, 2020 1:41 PM

Lastspikemike
In Canada we of course use the Robertson screw in preference to all other types.

Speaking as a fellow Canadian, I would politely suggest that your information is a bit outdated. I used to use Robertson screws for everything but for my current layout benchwork I used Torx and I will never use a Robertson screw again.

Lastspikemike
True Robertson sockets are tapered so you can easily jam a screw onto the driver bit which holds it in place and then jam the point of that screw (one handed) into that softwood and drive it.

That is correct, IF you can find 'true' Robertson screws and bits. Most of the Robertson screws that I have purchased in the last few years did not stay securely on the bits, and the bits popped out of the screws quite easily when being driven. My experience with the Torx screws is that there is no slippage whatsoever. I didn't count how many screws I used to build the benchwork, but I'm guessing somewhere around 250. Not one slip! Zero! Nada!!

I also found that the Torx screws that I was using did not require a pilot hole and the only time the wood split was when I didn't have the screw lined up properly and it was too close to the edge. The screws had self tapping tips so they cut into the wood instead of forcing it apart. Drilling a pilot hole certainly makes it easier to start the screw, and the positioning is often more accurate, but splitting was not an issue. I was using white pine.

Robertson screws were a great invention at the time and they have served us well, but unfortunately their time is up! (Well, almost)Smile, Wink & Grin

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, July 31, 2020 1:57 PM

wesno
My benchwork on my 3rd layout in 35 years is now about done.  Here's what I learned. 

Hi wesno,

I agree with everything that you have done. You make a lot of good points.

I use 3rd PlanIt as well and I love it! I have planned two layouts with it. One fairly large one for my old club and now a 5' x 12' layout for myself. The club layout worked out great. I was able to do the things that you mentioned like planning the benchwork for Tortoise locations (100 Tortoises with no benchwork in the way), and creating all the cutting patterns for the subroadbed (600' of track). All the radii, grades and clearances came out as planned.

As far as what lumber to use, I was able to get clear white pine from a local lumber mill and it was indeed clear, and straight! No knots even in 14' boards. It was also cheap when compared to the crap that the big box stores sell. I love working with poplar but it was twice the price. I couldn't justify the difference.

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, July 31, 2020 6:18 PM

 I wish the Torx screws I got were as good as the ones you got. I'm having the bit pop and slip all the time. I've gone through a couple hundred so far and had 2 (not a bad rate) where the screw head was not properly formed and the bit didn;t go in at all. Might be a small speck of metal that is easily cleared away but I didn;t take the time, just grabbed another screw. At least each pack of screws has a freesh bit - the first one is getting a bit worn already (clearly not made as well or of the same material as the ones in my good bit set). Maybe the trick is to have a hammer drill instead of a drill/driver - the ones at or below chest level, when I can lean my weight into the driver, don't slip out.

                                         --Randy

 


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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Friday, July 31, 2020 6:34 PM

rrinker

 I wish the Torx screws I got were as good as the ones you got. I'm having the bit pop and slip all the time. I've gone through a couple hundred so far and had 2 (not a bad rate) where the screw head was not properly formed and the bit didn;t go in at all. Might be a small speck of metal that is easily cleared away but I didn;t take the time, just grabbed another screw. At least each pack of screws has a freesh bit - the first one is getting a bit worn already (clearly not made as well or of the same material as the ones in my good bit set). Maybe the trick is to have a hammer drill instead of a drill/driver - the ones at or below chest level, when I can lean my weight into the driver, don't slip out.

                                         --Randy

 

 

If you mean an impact driver, yes it is much better than using a drill.

These days we carry both to the job, and only use the drill for actual drilling, like hole saws and concrete achors, etc.

We always use the impact for driving screws. The newer Dewalt 18V and 20V models are small, light and powerful.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by York1 on Friday, July 31, 2020 6:41 PM

I've got an 18 volt DeWalt drill and impact driver in a package deal.  For a while, I used the drill exclusively.  On a certain project, I decided to try the impact driver, and I will never use the drill for driving screws again.  I can't believe I let it sit on the shelf all that time.

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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, August 1, 2020 2:30 AM

rrinker
 I wish the Torx screws I got were as good as the ones you got. I'm having the bit pop and slip all the time. I've gone through a couple hundred so far and had 2 (not a bad rate) where the screw head was not properly formed and the bit didn;t go in at all. Might be a small speck of metal that is easily cleared away but I didn;t take the time, just grabbed another screw. At least each pack of screws has a freesh bit - the first one is getting a bit worn already (clearly not made as well or of the same material as the ones in my good bit set). Maybe the trick is to have a hammer drill instead of a drill/driver - the ones at or below chest level, when I can lean my weight into the driver, don't slip out.

That's disappointing Randy. The screws I used were made by 'Power-Pro' (1 1/4") and 'Wood-Pro (2 1/2"). Both were purchased through Amazon. I also used Bosch drivers instead of the ones provided with the screws. I guess I'll have to cross my fingers in the future hoping that I get the same quality.

FWIW, I used a Bosch impact driver, but I had it set on direct drive instead of using the impact function. As someone said, the softness of the white pine makes it easy to overdrive the screws, but I had no problem with that happening.

I also had to remove and reposition a number of screws because they were driven at an angle. Even after removing and reinstalling them there was no slippage.

Dave

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Posted by rrinker on Saturday, August 1, 2020 12:40 PM

 Guess I should just get the impact driver to go with the rest of my DeWalt stuff and be done with it. I'm also driving through 2x4s, into other 2x4s, and birch plywood into 2x4s. It might actually work out, the impact driver is a lot shorter so it will fit in the space to screw the joists to the verticals easier.

                               --Randy


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Posted by York1 on Saturday, August 1, 2020 2:21 PM

rrinker
It might actually work out, the impact driver is a lot shorter so it will fit in the space to screw the joists to the verticals easier.

 

I think that is one reason I resisted using the DeWalt impact driver at first.  It was small, and I thought, without ever using it, that it wouldn't be powerful enough to drive much.

I was wrong.  I have driven large lag screws and long screws through plywood and 2 x 4s, and it made it seem easy.

York1 John       

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Posted by rrinker on Saturday, August 1, 2020 3:12 PM

 I'll just have to hold off on some more track supplies, I went ahead and ordered the impact driver. Looking forward to this, probably going to be another one of those "why didn't I get one of these years ago" things. Might retire my old 18V drill with the adapter for the 20V packs, since it's so heavy. My 20V drill will drill holes just fine.

                                   --Randy

 


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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, August 1, 2020 4:29 PM

rrinker

 I'll just have to hold off on some more track supplies, I went ahead and ordered the impact driver. Looking forward to this, probably going to be another one of those "why didn't I get one of these years ago" things. 

Randy, that is exactly what you will say to yourself. No pilot holes required. The impact drill works best with the resistance of solid boards. Keep us posted once you get it. You are gonna love it.

Rich

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, August 1, 2020 4:30 PM

rrinker

 Guess I should just get the impact driver to go with the rest of my DeWalt stuff and be done with it. I'm also driving through 2x4s, into other 2x4s, and birch plywood into 2x4s. It might actually work out, the impact driver is a lot shorter so it will fit in the space to screw the joists to the verticals easier.

                               --Randy

 

The impact driver loves to screw 2x4s together, and it is truly compact and light as a feather.

Rich

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, August 1, 2020 4:38 PM

When I bought my impact drill, I also bought a pack of six impact drill bits. I immediately loved the performance of the impact drill, but I quickly noticed drill bit degradation. I had to repeatedly replace the drill bits. So, I went back out and bought a magnetic drill bit holder.

What a magnetic drill bit holder does is to distribute the force of the repeated impact, significantly increasing the interval between replacement of drill bits.

I highly recommend it.

Rich

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Posted by rrinker on Saturday, August 1, 2020 8:17 PM

 I have like 3 sets of bits acquired over the years - none of them are impact rated, so I bought a set along with the driver. Hmm, no finger pointing at the head emoticon.

                                         --Randy

  


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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, August 1, 2020 11:08 PM

My little Bosch impact driver is amazing! It is powerful beyond belief, and the battery lasts a long time. I have been driving 2 1/2" screws and it barely slows down as the screw gets driven to its full length. So far, I have not had to replace the Bosch driver bits. I'm still working on the first of each of the T20 and T25 bits.

Great tool!

Dave

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Posted by carl425 on Saturday, August 1, 2020 11:17 PM

richhotrain
You are gonna love it.

I've got the DeWalt 12 Volt impact driver and it works great.  It can drive a 3.5" #10  through a 1-by and drywall into the wall stud and countersink the head without breaking a sweat.

The only thing I need is a hack to make it impact from the start.  I'm thinking that impact at the start would fix that annoying tip skate I sometimes get.

I've got all the 12 volt tools and they all work well.  They don't run long enough on a battery for someone earning a living with them, but they easily outlast me and I find the reduced weight to be nice.

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Bradford, Ontario
  • 11,666 posts
Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, August 1, 2020 11:22 PM

Just FYI,

Good quality Torx screws have a couple of newer features that make them work better than older designs. You can see them on the picture below.

One is the thread cutting serrations on the tip, and another is the steeply angled threads towards to head of the screw. If I understand their functions correctly, the thread cutting serrations allow the screw to penetrate the wood much easier with less chance of splitting, and the steeply angled threads are designed to pull the two pieces of lumber tight together as the screw reaches its depth. That is a feature that Randy would find useful when he is joining two 2x4s together.

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 28,370 posts
Posted by rrinker on Saturday, August 1, 2020 11:56 PM

 That's the sort of screw I have - they have a drill point tip, and they have a small flute under the head so they self-countersink. ANd some other stuff mentioned on the label They actually do go in without predrilling holes, although for the verticakls when I attach them to the wall, I predrill just because it is next to impossible to hold the board at the right height, without tilting it, and start a screw. I stick the 6 screws in each one, then line it up and level it, and I can easily hold it with one hand while driving the screw with the other. The problem I have with my regular drill/driver is that if I want to run them all the way in, I need to put a lot of force to keep the bit in the head. So I usually get one started at the top, make sure the board is level and start one at the bottom, then do the rest all the way in, finally finishing up the initial two - helps if I miss a stud, too. Gets very tiring though pushing hard well above my head for the top 2. Hopefully the impact driver will solve that problem and I'll be able to do more, faster.

 I didn't have this issue in the past, but then I was only using 1x soft pine for benchwork. 

 I have all DeWalt 20V stuff, so I got the 20V impact, no point in having 2 sets of batteries to worry about. 

                             --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    June 2020
  • 179 posts
Posted by Lastspikemike on Sunday, August 2, 2020 8:25 AM

Impact driver is the tool to use for screw driving. No need for special bits as the impact force is quite low. These are not comparable to impact drivers used to install wheels, for example.  I use mine to spin lug nuts on and off but they won't torque them anywhere close to spec and can't undo them  the idea is the opposite of high torque. Compared to a drill which keeps applying the same torque no matter what the resistance torque requires, the impact driver skips internally (not in the screw head) and tries again with a tap instead of a twist. The real advantage is not the torque available from the tool which is quite modest but the ability to keep the bit engaged despite big changes in screw resistance.

Bits are expendable. I try to find the hardened bits and those basically last forever  in domestic use. 

Torx screws are ok until you can't find your torx bits. The similar looking star bits are not suitable. I disagree that a torx screw is in any way superior to Robertson. Robertson is superior in the same way that an Allen socket head screw is superior to a torx head  and a six point socket or closed end wrench is superior to a 12 point.  Simply put, a torx will strip out at far lower torque than a Robertson  and when they do it's drill out time. Even a very heavily mangled Robertson can be removed with enough vertical pressure  into the socket. I agree that torx are vastly superior to Phillips head but that is just damning with faint praise since Phillips head are barely better than a common slothead.

The illustrated torx screw seems remarkably similar to a standard "Robertson"  deck screw. There are no genuine Robertson screws made, the patent ran out and Robertson stupidly refused to license it before it ran out. Yet another Betamax story. Phillips never manufactured any of his design.  

Alyth Yard

Canada

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 19,362 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, August 2, 2020 8:42 AM

Lastspikemike

Impact driver is the tool to use for screw driving. No need for special bits as the impact force is quite low. 

Torx crews are ok until you can't find your torx bits. The similar looking star bits are not suitable.  

Based upon my experience, I cannot agree with the comment about special bits.  

A regular bit works fine with a standard drill because a standard drill depends upon a clutch for resistance. But, you do need special bits with an impact drill because the "bumping" action of the impact driver will wear down a regular bit in no time. You need special, stronger bits and a magnetic bit holder is equally important to extend the life of the special bits even longer.

As for Torx screws, I see no need for them. Phillips screws work just fine with an impact drill. No stripping, no sliding.

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    June 2020
  • 179 posts
Posted by Lastspikemike on Sunday, August 2, 2020 8:47 AM

I'm not sure you understand why the impact driver is so superior to a drill driver. You also don't realize that the Phillips screwdriver was specifically engineered to torque out to prevent unintentional over torque when using early versions of powered screw driving equipment. 

Drywall power drivers still use Phillips head for this very reason. Drywall screws are hardened and very brittle. 

Phillps head screws are awful to use for woodworking, truly awful. 

Alyth Yard

Canada

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