Since its invention centuries ago, the humble screw has changed little in terms of its design in testament to its successful simplicity; what has changed dramatically is the method of production and materials used to create the essential fasteners. Here we reveal some interesting facts about the device, which has transformed society in countless ways with its many thousands of applications.
- The screw found its first use in presses designed to extract the juice/oil from grapes and olives, processes absolutely vital to the Ancient Greeks. As the mechanism allows for an extremely strong force to be applied with little effort, the screw was perfect for extracting the maximum possible liquid from fruit; just 40lbs of pressure on a turning-wheel with a screw pitched at 1” will exert over 9,000lbs of force
- During the Middle Ages, this mechanism was freely adapted for use in the revolutionary printing press
- In the 16th century, screws began to be used in firearms production, providing a tighter, more reliable fit that could withstand the pressure of vibration from firing. The making of armour was also made easier than ever before
- Before the middle of the 1700s, screws were produced entirely by hand. Entire families were dedicated to the process, which involved tediously hand-carving slots and threads into blank nails. The screws were of variable quality and were so expensive to make that they were sold individually
- A screw-making machine capable of producing tapered threads was finally produced in 1842. Previously, untapered screws required pilot-holes before installation but the self-tapping screw was now born and quickly patented
- Screw-threads form helixes - not spirals. This is a common misconception and is reinforced by the notion of a ‘spiral staircase’ which, in proper terms, is a helix staircase!
Greengate's, your local builders merchant, supply a comprehensive range of screws and other fastenings designed to facilitate all kinds of work. Browse our collection now and call us for more details.