Why Aren’t All Screws Philips?

Why Aren't All Screws Philips?

Have you ever wondered why all screws don’t just use the Philips bit? Well, in this article, we’ll explain why! It can be frustrating to have to constantly change bits, but there are reasons for so many types of screws. 

There are many reasons why all screws don’t universally use Philips head bits and screwdrivers. For one thing, history has a lot to do with the different types of bits. For another thing, there are stronger bits that can take more torque than Philips, such as the Torx or the Roberts bits. Finally, Philips bits are difficult to standardize, which makes them more likely to strip or “cam out”. 

Now that you have the basics, let’s talk about this in more depth. People are constantly asking why drill bits are not standardized. While this is frustrating, there are some good reasons for the differences – particularly when it comes to Philips bits. 

Ready? Let’s take a deeper look at this topic. 

Why Don’t All Drill Bits Use Philips? 

Even if all drill bits could be completely standardized (which, isn’t realistic, nor would it be practical), they wouldn’t all be standardized to Philips heads. While Philips head bits may be the most common type of drill bit, they are actually pretty old and, in some ways, outdated. 

This does not mean that Philips heads screws are bad. They certainly have their place. It just means that, for some tasks, they aren’t the best. And, for universal standardization, they probably wouldn’t be the best choice. Let’s find out why. 

Reasons everyone doesn’t just use Philips screws: 

  • Philips and history 
  • Philips bits are not the strongest bits 
  • Philips are difficult to standardize 

Let’s look at these ideas in more depth. 

How History Effects Philips Head Bits 

As we look back at history, all sorts of drill bits have been used, not just the Philips bit. Since some screws tend to last for a while, it isn’t feasible that one type of screw would suddenly replace all other types of screws. 

Indeed, there are some screws that were not Philips and still persist in their use. Also, many years ago, Philips head screws may have been considered superior in some ways, particularly over flathead screws. However, now, the Philips head bit has actually become part of history itself. 

While there is no threat of Philips screws being discontinued any time soon, there have been some screw head types that have surged in popularity in recent years, as they offer benefits over the Philips head bits. We’ll talk about these bits in the next section. 

Philips Heads are Not the Strongest Bits 

There are many things that can affect the strength of a bit. For example, the type of material used to make the screw can have a huge effect. If the metal is soft, then there is a greater likelihood that the bit could strip. If the metal is especially hard, there is a greater chance that the screw could snap when placed under extreme torque. 

We only point this out because, when talking about the strength of a drill bit, there are more factors at play than just the type of bit. That said, there are a few types of bits that are, given the same materials used, a little stronger than Philips screws. Note that sometimes these increased strengths are more about the fit of the drill bit than that actual strength (more on that later).

For example, the star-shaped drill bit, also known as Torx, and the square-shaped drill bit, also known as Roberts bits, are typically stronger and more resistant to stripping than regular Philips head bits. Again, this isn’t always the case, as some screws are made cheaply. However, there is one main reason that square-shaped bits and star-shaped bits are stronger than Philips bits. Let’s talk about these reasons in the next section. 

If you’re curious, have a look at this article on what causes cam out. 

Philips Head Bits are Difficult to Efficiently Standardize 

With some types of drill bits, such as hex bits, start bits, or square bits, if you don’t have the right-sized drill bit, then the screw won’t work. This isn’t the case with Philips head bits, which is both a good and a bad thing. 

It’s a bad thing because, as anyone knows who has used Philips head screws, the bits are typically quite interchangeable between various types of Philips screws. This interchangeability makes it much more likely that you will choose a Philips bit that is too small or too large, and end up stripping the screw. With drill bits like the square bit, this isn’t an issue, because you need a nearly perfect fitting bit for them to even work. 

Now, this interchangeability is also a good thing, because it means that one screwdriver or drill bit can work with many different types of screws. This can be a great thing for everyday tasks, such as working around the house. However, this can present a problem when you have a large project, where it’s much easier to have a really snug fitting drill bit that works every time (such as building a deck or placing stairs). 

Now that we’ve understood why everyone doesn’t just use Philips bits, let’s talk a little bit about why there isn’t just one standardized type of drill bit. 

Reasons to Use Screws That Are Not Philips 

Now let’s go into a few reasons why there are so many different types of drill bits. Some of these reasons are not great, such as manufacturers who are just looking for ways to retain companies and make more money. But some of these reasons actually make a lot of sense. Let’s look at them. 

Here are the reasons there are so many different screws: 

  • Security 
  • Simplicity 
  • Looks 

Below, you’ll find more insight. 

Not All Philips are Secure (everybody has a Philips head screwdriver)

Some people may be surprised to find out that the heads of nuts, bolts, and screws, can play quite a large role in theft prevention. Yes, there are some areas of the world where jobsites, homes, and backyards are targeted for their building supplies. 

However, there’s another area that is frequently targeted by thieves – spare tires. These can be taken off and sold for cash. Needless to say, security can be a real concern. As you may have found out if you’ve ever tried to access a spare tire, you often will need a special wrench to remove the tire – this is to deter thieves. 

As is often said, thieves are typically looking for an opportunity, so even small barriers are a deterrent – even something as small as a screw head. 

The fact is, a Philips head screw is probably the most well-known type of screw. Everybody has a Philips head screwdriver. For this reason, Philips head screws are not the best choice if someone is looking to secure the boards on their deck. 

In addition to this, companies, particularly tech companies, often want to deter people from trying to repair their electronics on their own – in this case, the company may choose to use a proprietary screw, that only they make, to ensure they get the chance to repair the item. 

Philips Aren’t as Simple as Flathead 

While there are some instances where people want their screws to be purposefully complex, there are just as many reasons to want the screws to be simple. As it happens, though Philips heads are relatively simple, they are not as simple as something like flathead screws, which can be (if made a specific way) loosened and tightened with everyday objects, such as a coin, a jackknife, or even a fingernail. 

For this reason, Philips head screws are unlikely to replace all other types of screws. Now let’s talk about one more reason that Philips head screws are not universally used. 

Some People Don’t Like the Look of Philips Head Screws on Their Projects

Some people just don’t love the look of Philips head screws, and they may choose to use a different style drill bit. This can largely depend on the person and on the project. Some people simply won’t want to have Philips head screws all over their project

This might be the oddest one, as it’s based on personal choice. But, nonetheless, some people will want their own styles. Now for our final take. 

Key take: Why Everyone Doesn’t Just Use Philips Screws  

While Philips head screws are some of the most popular types of screws, there are many reasons that they aren’t the only type of screw. For one, they aren’t as strong as other types of bits, such as the square bit. For two, they aren’t as simple as flatheads. 

Finally, some people just have personal preferences, and they don’t plan to change those preferences anytime soon. So, for now, we will have to live with all the different types of screws. The best we can do is try to stay organized, and perhaps make our own homes more uniform in the type of screws used. 

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