Home Improvement Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for contractors and serious DIYers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm going to be building a workbench, so I've been 'screw shopping.' I need some explanation on the sizing of screws when they are advertised as (example) 6 x 3/4". I know that 3/4" is the length of the screw, but what does the 6 mean?

share|improve this question
up vote 49 down vote accepted

"6" is a #6-size screw. Screw gauges are a measure of the head size and shaft size, and are roughly linear but not quite a 1:1 relationship (a #8 screw is a little less than twice the diameter of a #4 screw). There isn't a good system for converting gauge to a calibrated measurement, so you're best off consulting a table like this: http://hingedummy.info/screwinfopage2.htm

Screws have three basic measurements: gauge, threads per inch, and shaft length in inches. So, you may also see a measurement like 6-32 x 1 1/2". This means it's a #6 diameter, with 32 threads per inch (almost double the normal thread count as a standard wood screw) and an inch and a half long. When the middle number is absent (6 x 1 1/2"), the screw has the "normal" number of threads per inch for that size and type of screw (for #6 wood screws that's 18).

share|improve this answer
Good answer. Only thing I could add is that some "normal" thread screws can come in both fine and coarse thread varieties, so you could have "6 x 1 1/2" coarse" or "6 1 1/2" fine". – Tester101 Apr 23 '12 at 16:19
Fantastic explanation, thanks! – Calvin Allen Apr 23 '12 at 16:21
Also, I usually see screw gauges for sizes less than 1/4". Above that I see fractions. – Jay Bazuzi Apr 23 '12 at 21:06

The sites mentioned in previous answers are nice, but are not comprehensive. There are several different ways of measuring the diameter which is critical to understand based on the application. For example, for placing a screw in a tapped hole, the important diameter is the major diameter (the largest diameter around the shank including the threads). A chart with those measurements is given here: http://www.engineersedge.com/screw_threads_chart.htm along with explanations of the different measurements: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screw_thread#Diameters

share|improve this answer

McMaster-Carr also has a good description of a lot of information concerning the many kinds of threaded fasteners available. http://www.mcmaster.com/#about-machine-screws/=h8mmn6

share|improve this answer
Good summary, but they omit PoziDrive and Hex-insert for the heads. – staticsan Apr 26 '12 at 6:56

Back in the last century when we were not sure of a screw's gauge, a reliable rule of thumb was to measure the diameter of the countersunk head in inches. Deduct from that measurement 1/16", and then count the number of 1/32" remaining. So a screw head with a diameter of 1/4" was a 6 gauge, 5/16" was an 8 gauge, 3/8" was a 10 gauge and so on.

share|improve this answer

You might find this table useful as well...

Screws explained, gauge, metric equiv., pilot holes and clearance holes

Disclaimer: I wrote the table after more than 30 years in trade (builder/carpenter).

share|improve this answer
Answers that link-only are generally frowned upon and will likely be removed. It looks like you have some good info here, could you include it directly in the answer? You can include the link in your profile if you want to promote your site. – Steven Jan 28 '15 at 2:12
Thanks Steven, table added and link removed. – handyman Jan 28 '15 at 8:57

6 refers to the size of the screw - diameter, threads, etc



share|improve this answer

The way I was shown was to measure across the screw head in1/16th's double it and take away 2. ie. if it is 5/16th's across double to 10 - 2 = 8

share|improve this answer

protected by Steven Jan 28 '15 at 2:13

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.