What are Self Tapping Screws

As a professional or a DIYer, if you are on the lookout for fasteners to binding together layers of some material together, especially those of sheet metal, you are likely to run into a type of screws, called self tapping screws.

A self-tapping screw is essentially a fastener that is used to secure a wide range of materials, especially metal. This screw cuts its own thread as it penetrates the concerned material. A small hole is created in the material and the threads fit into it with tight friction across them. As a result, there is minimal vibration loosening and the parts of the material can be opened up if needed.

In our guide below, we will go over everything that you should be aware of regarding the self-tapping screws, including their uses, types, and more. So, let’s get started!

What are Self Tapping Screws Used For

What are Self Tapping Screws

Self-tapping Screws are basically one of the types of tapping screws, besides Self-Drilling and Self-Piercing Screws.

Self-Tapping Screws primarily have application for thin gauge sheet metal. Apart from that, they are used to secure materials, such as plastic, wood, and brick.

One example of the use of self-tapping screws for woodworking is when you disassemble and reassemble furniture, as self-tapping screws reposition themselves into the same threads from which they have been taken out.

Types of Self Tapping Screws

There are two types of self-tapping screws, namely Thread-forming and Thread-tapping. The former is used for softer materials, like plastic, whereas the latter is mainly used for much harder materials, like metal.

Thread-Forming Screws

These screws come with flat ends so before you can use these screws, you will need to drill a pilot hole into the desired material, which, in this case, is most likely to be plastic.

These screws grip the material tightly due to their design. However, avoid overtightening of these screws as they can cause the material to break.

Thread-Tapping Screws

To use these screws, there is no need for a pilot hole, but you can drill one for your convenience. If you do go with drilling a pilot hole, make sure that it is smaller than the diameter of the thread-tapping screw.

The downside of using these screws is that, when removed, they can cause stripped threads.

How to Use Self Tapping Screws

Self Tapping Screws

Below, we have streamlined the use of self-tapping screws in three steps:

Required Supplies

  • Self-tapping screws
  • A powerful drill
  • An appropriate drill it
  • Phillips / Flathead screwdriver

Step 1: Make a Pilot Hole

Before you use self-tapping screws, it is recommended that you drill a pilot hole in the material you are dealing with, in order to make sure that the screw goes in smoothly and is positioned the right way.

When drilling a pilot hole, be sure to use a drill bit that is smaller than the self-tapping screw. Otherwise, the hole will be too large and the threads of the screw won’t have anything to fit into.

Step 2: Screw in the Self Tapping Screw

Having drilled the pilot hole, position the screw straight into the hole and use a Philips or a flat head screwdriver (as suited to your particular screw) to screw it in place.

Remember that if the screw goes in twisted, the head of the screw could strip.

Step 3: Tighten the Screw

Finally, with the self-tapping screw in place, tighten the screw until it does not turn anymore. Overtightening of the screw could result in the stripping of the screw threads.

Self-Drilling Screws vs Self Tapping Screws


As mentioned before, apart from self-tapping screws, there are two other types of tapping screws. The ones with which self-tapping screws are often compared are self-drilling screws.

While self-tapping screws possess a flat or sharp tip, a self-drilling screw only has a sharp, piercing tip, which allows it to drill into softer materials, such as plastic and wood, as well as harder ones, such as metal, meaning that it does not require a pilot hole.

The self-drilling also forms its own mating threads in a single operation. The self-drilling tools save up your time as well as a lot of effort.

On the other hand, the advantage of self-tapping screws also referred to as sheet metal screws, is that they do not get stuck into a material and break. Also, they are much cheaper than their self-drilling counterpart.

Frequently Asked Questions

Tapping Screws

Are All Wood Screws Self Tapping?

No, but many of the wood screws are self-tapping. The wood screws tap their own threads into the wood.

Do You Need a Drill for Self Tapping Screws?

No, you can insert a self-tapping screw into the desired material using a screwdriver. However, it is recommended that you drill a pilot hole before tightening the screw.

Can You Use Self Tapping Screws in Aluminum?

Yes, it can be used to fasten a variety of metals together, including Aluminum.

How Much Weight Can a Self Tapping Screw Hold?

Normally, a self-tapping screw can hold around 80-100 pounds of weight. It is, however, governed by various factors, including the type of screw threads, screw quality, screw insertion angle, screw length, and the forces acting on the screw.



And there you have it – a complete guide on everything you should be aware of, regarding self-tapping screws.

To reiterate, self-tapping screws are fasteners, that can secure together with a range of materials. It has two types; Thread-forming and Thread-tapping. The type you use depends upon the type of material that you are dealing with. Whichever one you use, however, do not overtighten it. Else, you could damage the material as well as the screw threads.

Liam Weissman

Hello and welcome to PowerToolGenius! My name is Liam and for the last 9 years, I have worked extensively with various power tools and accessories. I have tested hundreds of different brands and models and understand the industry extensively and have been working with tools my entire life!

Recent Posts