Canadians Screw Better


Seriously. Every so often I buy a multi-tool screwdriver that was manufactured in the US and all it has are Phillips, Flathead and sometimes Hex. To me, as a Canadian, this makes the screwdriver functionally useless. A real Canadian screwdriver always has at least three different sizes of Robertson bit. Like many Canadians, I learned them as red-handled (the most common), green-handled, yellow-handled and black-handled. It’s a really simple, convenient system because it means that when you’re scrounging in a tool-bag you can easily pick out the kind of driver that you want for the screw that you have – and also you can easily send a kid to get it. In fact, I learned my Robertsons by frequently helping my Dad with construction projects where fetching the red-handled Robertson was one of my primary duties.

In most ways, the Robertson really is just a superior kind of screw. Henry Ford originally wanted to use them on all of his Model Ts because he found that they saved about 2 hours of work per car – but he wasn’t able to secure the licensing that he wanted for his American production lines, so he settled on the Phillips instead. Canadian Model Ts were manufactured with Roberstons. If the licensing had worked out, probably all y’all would be using the Robertson today instead of mucking around with inferior screwdrivers, but as it stands they’re not used much outside of Canada.

The advantages are as follows: if you take a Phillips screw (we won’t discuss flatheads which are useful only for removing obsolete screws from old buildings and for opening cans of paint), and you put a screw on the end of the driver, unless you hold it very carefully in an upright position the screw falls off. If you put a Robertson screw on the end of the driver, it stays unless you turn it upside down. Phillips are also way more likely to pop out of the socket as you are trying to screw, so if you’re using a power driver you’re more likely to get that hideous “chug-chug-chug” sound of a bit slowly mangling itself and the screw that it’s trying to put in. Since Robertson bits fit nice and snug, it also generally requires less strength and pressure to get the screw to go in smoothly – a big advantage if you’ve got a large job to do, or if you’re trying to do construction during first trimester fatigue. The only advantages of the Phillips over the Robertson are that it is possible to take out a Phillips screw with the wrong size driver (if, say, your four year old has recently been using your tool-bag as an armoury and some of your screwdrivers got lost during the Battle of Helms Deep), and if you’re using old or cheap screws Robertsons can strip faster.

So that’s why Canadians screw better. My apologies to those who thought this was going to be a discourse on human sexuality.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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