As some companies revolutionize the displays we rely on with ultra-thin technologies that can be literally folded in half, 0thers have focused on improving less flashier tech, like the lowly screw, with a new design that makes the unsightly slots for a screwdriver completely disappear when the tool is removed.
Back in July, we brought news of a different screw innovation that integrated springs into the design so that when sheets of drywall were secured to the framed walls of a room a small gap remained that allowed the rigid sheets to slightly move in response to sound waves, dampening their energy. The ultimate goal of the Sound Screws was to reduce the amount of noise passing through rooms, but Andrew Klein’s new screws were created with a whole other purpose in mind: aesthetics.
One of the many reasons flat pack furniture from companies like Ikea is so affordable—in addition to the materials used like fibreboard instead of hard woods—is that many of the structural components (screws, fasteners, etc.) are either left exposed or poorly hidden behind plastic caps. To a college student just looking for a cheap place to crash at night and a shelf to hold books not made of cinderblocks and two-by-fours, the aesthetics of Ikea are of no concern. But to a carpenter or professional furniture maker, the results leave a lot to be desired.
Buying furniture made by a true craftsperson is always more expensive than mass-produced pieces, and that’s because of the care that goes into its construction, including an often obsessive level of detail that has screws and nails perfectly hidden on the finished piece. That’s where Klein’s latest creation comes in. Instead of needing to be hidden, the precision-crafted screw can be integrated into the design of a piece of wooden furniture as a decorative accent, because the slots for a screwdriver (like the cross or square hole you’ll typically find on a screw) completely disappear once a tool is removed.
The secret to the design is the center of the screw’s head, which is precision machined to perfectly fill the hole where a tool is inserted, and is spring-loaded so that it always sits flush to the surface of the screw. The machining is so perfect that the seam is nearly invisible to the naked eye, but when a custom tool is inserted (that matches this screw’s unique three-pronged slot) the center plunger is depressed and the screw can be tightened into place.
Klein doesn’t yet have an official name for the new screw design (he’s open to suggestions if you’ve got a good one), nor is he ready to put it into mass production and start collecting pre-orders. Through his YouTube channel, he’s instead testing the waters to see if there’s enough interest from other woodworkers and furniture designers to take the next steps towards refining the design and making it production-ready, as the metal cutting machinery needed to cut the screw head with such precision is extremely expensive. It’s nice for a change to see someone not jumping headfirst into a crowdfunding campaign as soon as they have a novel idea, but in this case, it seems like Klein could be onto something.