How do I create custom-length screws?
The screws that come with door and drawer pulls never seem to be the right length for the project I'm building. I've used a bench grinder to try to shorten longer screws, but they're hard to hold safely. Any recommendations?
—Greg Palmer, Omaha
Rest assured, Greg, that you have several options safer and faster than the grinder.
* Keep a selection of 8-32 truss-head machine screws on hand in varying lengths. They usually increase by 1⁄4 " increments.
* Buy breakaway screws [Photo above] that snap to the correct length in 1⁄4 " increments. A20-pack of 8-32×3⁄4 " truss-head screws (no. 35535) costs $4.95 at Rockler (800 279-4441, rockler.com).
*If you need to use the too-long screws that came with your hardware, you can cut them down to size in either of two ways:
1. Use electrical wire strippers with shearing holes [Photo below]. The front jaw has threaded holes of various sizes, and the back jaw has a larger hole for the waste end of the screw to slip through. Using the 8-32 hole, thread in a screw to the desired length and squeeze the handles to shear the screw. Uscrewing it deburrs the rough end. Note: Don't thread the screw in from the back of the pliers—a short offcut is difficult to back out of the threaded hole.
2. Hacksaw the screw to length [Photo below]. First, spin a nut onto the screw shaft above where you'll make the cut; then, clamp the screw in a vise, and cut the shaft to length. Threading off the nut deburrs the screw end.
* If you cut a screw too short, simply drill a counterbore in the workpiece so the screw can reach the pull [ Photo below].
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