Picture of When a Phillips is not a Phillips!
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Cross-head, Cross-Point, Cruciform,
Square Drive Screws and Drivers

These screw types have a "+" shaped recess on the head and are driven by a cross-head screwdriver, designed originally for use with mass-production mechanical screwing machines. There are a few other recessed drive screws presented that you also want to be aware.

So, why all the confusion? Why all the damaged screw heads and drivers? Why is this screw and driver thing so awkward? Read on and be amazed while I unravel the mystery of screw drives and present some you may have never seen.

For each screw drive type, from ancient Slot through to space-age Lox we present a quick view of the screw head, the drive name, a picture of the appropriate drive bit, followed by an explanation of the type. Also presented are the advantages and disadvantages of each drive type. Slot type are also included because that is where the screw began and a double slot becomes a cross drive, and the Robertson or square drive enter the story with recent combined Phillips/Square drives. The Allan, Spline, Torx etc drives are not included and maybe neither should the Uni-Screw, it is just so darn new and interesting.

This article contains a lot of information and pictures from the Internet. Maybe it will be the definitive guide with your help it could get close. If you disagree with any of the information or if I missed a related drive you know of, please let me know where I can validate the information. Misinformation, incorrect illustrations, screwed up usage of terms on the Internet and elsewhere is rampant and part of the problem created by so many drives.

First a little background:

A screw is really a shaft with a helical groove or thread formed on its surface. Its main uses are as a threaded fastener used to hold objects together, and as a simple machine used to translate torque into linear force. It can also be defined as an inclined plane wrapped around a shaft.

Every threaded fastener needs a way of turning it. Whether a wrench fits a hex-head bolt or a nut, or it may have a shaped and recessed hole into which a driver can be inserted.
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The great advantage of the crossed-slot head is that it combines the ability to be cleaned out with centering. Although it is hard to find high-quality stainless, bronze, or monel crossed-slot screws, they can be easily made by cutting a slot across a slotted screw. But it is very hard to find a crossed-slot driver.

MauriS694 months ago

Thanks for the info, I just learned a lot. I knew there were a couple different screw heads but never imagined there were so many. I've seen some of the Phillips-like, just didn't know there were different or their names. Favorited.

lbrewer4210 months ago

I hated my first encounter with one of the screw types having a tamper-proof post in the center. Mr. chisel took care of the post nicely. Thankfully it snapped off instead of bending over.

Thanks for this great overview!

liontamer6710 months ago

Wow wow wow! Thank you so much. I have had my drill set for years. Lately we have moved and I couldn't figure out why I have been stripping this bit that bit everywhere a bit bit. Ugh!!! This is one article I will save and use from year to year. Thank you!!! Deb

Thanks, I think the bit that I have is too long for a dimpler, but everything else makes sense - over and out.

Wonderful article - I have a Phillips like bit (part of a cheap set of bits) clearly marked "R2". I don't see it anywhere in you extensive write-up.

Any idea?

arcticpenguin (author)  howardlee_20011 year ago

Normally in the small sets the R2 would be a Robertson tip. R2 would be 'medium', or 'Red Handled' screwdriver. If it is a 'one piece' tip it is actually a square tip as Robertson has only ever made tips with two parts press fitted together.

I now know that I am looking at a #2 Phillips bit for drywall. It is smaller in diameter than a "regular" PH2. Why the diffference? Do drywall screws have a different head? Or does it have to do with better release? Or?
arcticpenguin (author)  howardlee_20011 year ago

This might help, on the website I downloaded the pdf on Fastener Driving & Screwdriving. On the 12th page or their page number 104, they show a Phillips #2 bit and a Drywall #2 bit, the Drywall tip is smaller in diameter because it fits in a dimpler clutch. Drywall screws seem to look more like a JIS or Frearson head as I remember. There is likely not a difference in the working head of the tip. I've seen forum comments to the effect that the Drywall tips don't camout as easy, relying on the dimpler to release prior to over-torquing.

Thanks for your prompt reply, BUT, it is not a Robertson I am a proud Canadian and know my Robertson screws. My original comment was "Phillips like".
The marking on the plastic "sleeve" for the bit showed a cross pattern and "R2" (it followed the 3 Phillips bits with the same cross pattern and "1", " 2", and "3" - the bits are engraved PH1, PH2, and PH3 respectively)
Upon closer examination of the bit in the "R2" slot, it is engraved "DRY PH2" - sorry, I should have pulled it out before.
So, with the added information, can you tell me what I have?
Please and thanks
GrfxGawd1 year ago
I don't remember where, but at some point I'm positive I encountered some of these that were not embedded in anything. I'm also certain whatever it was was cheap. One last thing I'm certain of is that I had a great many unpleasant thoughts and words over the encounter.
Bill WW2 years ago
Fantastic, thank you! A definite favorite.

Here is my LEAST favorite screw head: The screws that are designed to take either a Phillips #3 or Robertson (square) drive. Some of the new timber construction fasteners, such as Spax, and some of the common bronze wood screws use this "combination" drive. It is my experience that tools designed to do two (or more) things do neither well.
farve3 years ago
Hello, I am doubting what kind of screws has a MacBook Pro.
(I wrote a post at iFixit)

See this photo (big, more here) :
They don't seem Phillips, may be JIS or Frearson.

What do you think?

arcticpenguin (author)  farve3 years ago
I would agree with them being JIS. I've run into some comments that the JIS do not always have the identifier dot, especially when the screw head is smaller. As well the item shown in the "more here" link is marked "Made In China", JIS would be more likely used there as normal. Further the interect of the X is square and the phillips are rounded for torque-out.
As for Frearson, I've not knowingly seen them, but they seemed to be more a North American form of the JIS.
Being a screw head and not a tool bit it isn't easy to measure the angles of the blades to know for sure.
Thanks for the great question
Thanks you for your reply!

So I think I will buy JIS screws.

Thanks again.
Viaticus3 years ago
Excellent contribution! Nicely researched!
jaysbob3 years ago
I had no idea fastener solutions could be so interesting. really cool to know a little about the history of something so many of us either completely overlook or take for granted. thanks for putting this together, very interesting... and useful too!
perryli6003 years ago
firs login in, learn so much ,tks
rbroaches4 years ago
You can add a hex, torx or square shape using a method called rotary broaching. The medical and aerospace industries use this method faithfully.  Here is a great article on how rotary broaching works
Chief514 years ago
Really good article on the various types of screws Arcticpenguin. I couldn't remember the difference between R&P and Phillips head screws; I just new there was a difference that mattered. I found everything I needed in one article.
billhorvath4 years ago
You might need to update this to accommodate Apple's new pentalobular design -- See
arcticpenguin (author)  billhorvath4 years ago
While you are correct about the Pentalobular screws, it was not included in this "ible" as the intent was to specifically address the Square and Cross screws only.

Please check my other "ible" titled "When Is A Phillips Not A Phillips Plus So Much More" (a follow-up to this project) which attempts to identify all or at least most screw driver types. There you will find other 5-Lobed screw drives, even a tamperproof version of this security bit.
Thank you
Oops! Sorry -- I didn't realize you had two, and I'd remembered reading the other (comprehensive) one. My bad.
TA-1254 years ago
Good morning, ArcticPenguin;

From your posting on 2010 February 11:

"I'm almost sure what you refer to as Eiki ISO screws were actually JIS-Type screws with ISO metric threads. Two ways of saying the same thing basically. Similar to if I'd call them Yuyama ISO screws."

From a fading memory, I think your statement is correct.

In about 1965 or thereabouts, the movement toward some standardization in metric fasteners was well under way, and the JIS (Japanese Industrial Standards) people were beginning to align themselves with most of the rest of the world in making fasteners that would be interchangeable with the same thread specifications. The DIN standards seem to be the ones that were most favored and were adopted as the ISO standards. As you mentioned, the main shift in the JIS screws was in the change from the previous JIS thread diameter and thread pitch to the now standard ISO specifications. This affected the smaller size fasteners the most, as far as the JIS screws were concerned. The more common sizes of 6 - 1.00, 8 - 1.25, and some others, were not affected.

One of the differences was in the 5mm diameter screw where the previous JIS Standard of 5mm diameter and 0.75mm thread pitch became the same as the DIN or ISO 5mm diameter and 0.8mm thread pitch.

This is where the distinction becomes important. At this point, to distinguish between the earlier JIS Thread Specification and the newer ISO Thread Specification, they added to the head of the fastener, or the side of the nut, the "dot" or "dimple" or small round recess to show that this is the new fastener, and not the older JIS Thread Specification. The form of the head of the fastener did not change; it is still the JIS head using the JIS tooling for installation and removal. Only the thread form or thread specification changed. This is the significance of the "dimple" on the head of the JIS fastener.

You may have noticed that the Deck Mate screws in your area are now a star drive. These screws are not made by Phillips the manufacturer of the patented Phillips Square Driv with the blue bit. Home Depot owns the name Deckmate and they have chosen to have a different vendor supply the screws that are inside the box in part of the country. The original, patented Phillips Square Driv screws are available at No charge UPS shipping. We are calling them Phillips II Plus. YOu will recognize the drive, the bit and the box.
E_MAN4 years ago
To many words!!!!!!!!!!!! p.s. nice 'ible
wurft5 years ago
How to remove ANY screw, nut or bolt:

Weld a piece of metal on it and just unscrew it using using your hands =D

~hope this helps someone
ceknight5 years ago
Firstly, let me say... a fascinating instructable! Sure I knew there were specialty screws, but had no idea the extent of the "Philips" type screws out there. Sheds new light on why I've had some trouble with odd screws/drivers with what I thought were perfectly fine philips (hmm, or were they?) drivers.

Secondly, in my dozen plus years as a camp ranger and caretaker, I have driven literally thousands upon thousands of these "Deck Mates" and they are my go-to screw, even though they are a bit pricier and I can only find them at Home Depot. I do find that even though they are marketed to be driven with standard philips bits, it has to be a very good bit to have with success with it. Standard square drives are no problem however. Stick with the matched Philips II bits with the ACR and you can't go wrong. Good thing they're included with a full box of screws. I've managed to shatter a few of them driving hard.
arcticpenguin (author) 5 years ago
Hey everyone, check it out.  When a Phillips is not a Phillips - Plus So Much More!

Finally published it, waited way too long for a contest to enter it in and finally gave up the wait to share this.

Maybe it can reach fame through your many visits.

catnip4all5 years ago
I won't reveal it but the pin head screw takes only three seconds to bypass with a screw driver and something else very common. The screw designer screwed up.
a hammer
YES. This technique will work even when the screw is recessed 1" under the surface. Even if the screw is hardened. Here's what they can do to solve this. The center stud should be cone shape, not cylindrical. They need geniuses, someone like the creator of the rubiks cube or criminals be consulted to make this kinds of standards.
Yeah. I would definitely put criminals and the creator of the rubiks cube in the same category.
catnip4all5 years ago
One day someone stole my license plate held by four large screws with a circle in the center. The car alarm went off and I didn't bother. I didn't know how they took it off since there are no tools in the market to open it. To solve this problem I put cone shape screws with deep thread and thread-lock glue. To top it off, a roll pin was drilled in to lock it in. If you really need my plate you can have it :) Good luck finding a bit to remove that! ...but I wont tell how you can still remove it but you'll figure that out on your own.
Aren't most fasteners impossible to remove without the matching driver?
You can remove all these fasteners with a Flathead screw driver. The hardest shown here is the "Chrysler" Uni-Screw. You need a file for this one. I learn to remove them when I grew up with nothing but a screw driver because we were immigrants with nothing...not because of wanting to break into places.
swizzle5 years ago
With a dremel tool and a metal cutting disk I can turn any screw into a flat head. Works great for snagging neodymiums out of hard drives. 5 seconds of cutting on any screw head is good enough to make the slot you need. Get the heavy duty metal cutters not the thin ones. I always have a problem with ruining my mini screw driver sets. I guess they really aren't made to open beer bottles. 
I remove hard drive screws with ordinary flat heads. I don't know whether my flat head is actually normal. I don't see them sell these kind of flat head screw driver anymore. With ordinary drivers, you need to get that initial pop.
skan6 years ago
I'd also like to know what is the most complete set of screw bits. ???
I've found these:
But they are not complete
I'd like it to have the triangular, polydrive, one-way, uni-screw, mortorq, 5-node, Square tamperproof, Phillips Tamperproof and clutch.

I've also look at many different brands and I guess the only way to get them is purchasing each piece separately, but that's too expensive
You forgot the clutch

There is an instructable for making a triangle one.
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