Simple Guide to Self-Drilling Screws


The most commonly used fastening hardware as we all know are screws. Made to keep things together without the need to clean up spatter afterwards, screws are made to be convenient. This is especially the case with self drilling screws. Self-drilling screws come with a drill-shaped point and are usually made from stainless steel. Their point allows them to drill into different types of materials with pre-drilled pilot holes. They basically eliminate the need to drill into walls or sheet metal.

Self-drilling screws are not the same as self-tapping screws, by the way. They may sound similar, but unlike self-drilling screws, self-tapping screws are able to tap their own heads, but they’re unable to drill through materials. From HVAC work to small storage sheds, almost everything can be constructed with self-drilling screws – you just have to know how to use them.

How to Use Self-Drilling Screws

  1. While a drill isn’t needed to drill pre-drill holes when using a self-drilling screw, you’ll still need one to insert the screws. Make sure that before you start using the drill, you have the appropriate adapter so that the screw fits into the drill motor. Make sure the adapter is centred into the chuck of the drill, so the self drilling self tapping screws stay in place.
  2. Next, put on your protective eyewear and inspect the hex end of the adapter and ensure it’s clean. If there are metal shavings inside it, then insert the end of the screw into the opening of the adapter while holding the trigger of the drill. This will help get rid of any shavings.
  3. To use the actual self drilling self tapping screws, you need to place them into the hex head adapter and then depress the trigger slowly. Remember, you need to have the top of the screw resting against the material you want to drill through. Once the head of the self drilling screw tightens against the surface of the material you’re drilling through, stop. If you continue drilling it can put too much pressure and snap the screw or even damage the drill.

Types of Self-Drilling Screws


Low Profile

When you need to make an unobtrusive fixing, then a low profile self drilling screw is the best option. This type of screw is available in different variations such as wafer-head, pancake-head, baypole, and tek self drilling screws.


The countersunk self-drilling screw is most commonly used for standard applications. These also come in different variations, with the size being the only major difference. Some come with added flexibility and others come with wings.

With Wings

Self-drilling screws with wings are made to help drill into thicker sheets of metal. Heavy-duty materials are harder to go through, but not for self-drilling screws with wings. The wings enlarge the hole so they make for an easier path for the rest of the screw to go through.

Common Issues


Flute Melted

When you melt the flute or the part that drills through it is probably due to using a high RPM count. It can also be the result of the material being too hard.

Melted Point

If the point of a self-drilling screw is melted, then you either used too much force when drilling through the material, or the material itself was too hard.

Chipped Flute

A self-drilling screw with a chipped flute is the result of too much force being applied when driving the screw in. The screw might go through the material but its flute is damaged.

No Drilled Hole

When you’re unable to drill through a certain material, it can be because of a lot of different reasons. The reason behind this often has to do with the driver set put to reverse or the drill point being too blunt. A hard material can also be the case.

Split Drill Bit

If you end up splitting the drill bit, then you probably used excessive force when drilling through. Make sure the screw you’re using is strong enough to drill through the material and don’t push it if you can’t seem to get it through.



While a self-drilling screw is a unique and an extremely smart solution that makes our lives easier, they are not indestructible. When using a self-drilling screw, make sure it’s always placed securely in the drill adapter and that it is rated for the material you’re about to drive it through. Always ensure you have the right type of self-drilling screw as it can cost you a lot more in repairs after the fact.

Use the power of self-drilling screws to your advantage, and if you do so, it can go a long way in making solid builds and structures that will last a long time. One last thing to remember is to not push your tools or hardware too much as it can end up doing more harm than good.