Are you Team Phillips or Team Robertson?
April 01, 2024

You know them, you may have used them, and odds are you have an opinion on which one you think is better. I’m of course referring to Phillips and Robertson head screws (or if you’re a visual learner “cross” and “square” head screws) Being a manufacturer of patented multi-bit screwdrivers, we decided to discover more about this popular rivalry to figure out an answer to the age-old question: Which screw reigns supreme?

What we didn’t expect was learning about the history and use of these two screw types would end up being so “fasten-ating”…I’ll show myself out.

Some Brief Robertson Screw History

At the turn of the 20th century, Flat head screws were the most commonly found. Since they were inefficient in use, many innovators at the time were thinking “there has to be a better way” (much like our founder, Hermann Fruhm) P.L Robertson came up with a square headed screw design that quickly gained popularity and was eventually used in the assembly of Model-T Ford parts in Canada.

Robertson wanted to expand the use of his screw design into the US, but his deal with Henry Ford fell through because Ford wanted a say in production and an exclusive contract. Ford pulled his contract with Robertson in Canada as well, which led Robertson to decide that he would abandon expansion and focus his efforts on making his screw the most popular in his own country.


Some Brief Phillips Screw History

Fast forward a few years and the US was still looking for a better screw head system for mass production. Enter Henry Phillips. Phillips was granted an initial patent for the “cruciform” design of a screw head. He refined the design to what is now known as the “cross” or Phillips screw head. Phillips invited General Motors to test the design out and so it was used in assembly of the 1936 Cadillac. The screw became so popular it would eventually be used by all US auto makers (including Ford)


Since the American market was so vast and had international influence, Phillips screws grew to become the most widely used screw head in the world, while Robertson screws saw use primarily in Canada.

Megapro for the Phillips Die-hards

There are still many who feel the Phillips screw has its advantages. The tapered design means a Phillips driver can be used with a Phillips screw even if it isn’t quite the right size. In some manufacturing circles the earlier cam out of the Phillips screw is seen as a good indicator of the screw being properly set, avoiding over driving. The nature of the Phillips screw design also means a flat head driver can be used on it in a pinch (But by using a Megapro screwdriver you’ll always have the bit you need anyway).

Speaking of Megapro screwdrivers, we’ve loaded pretty much all of our drivers with the full range of Phillips tips (0-3) so you’ll never be without the bit you need. From our more industry tailored drivers, like the Elevator, all the way to our top sellers (Original and Ratcheting) you’ll find the right Phillips size to get the job done.


Megapro for the Robertson Fanatics

To many, the Robertson is a superior screw head. They say it’s easier to use, less likely to strip the screw or cam out and can be applied with more torque. In my personal experience I tend to agree (let’s just say I left a lot more cross shaped dents on wood than I did square shaped dents in my time in the trades)

Being a North American company, Megapro offers square bits in most of our drivers as part of a standard bitload. We’ve also partnered with P.L Robertson to offer a special driver with four double ended authentic P.L Robertson bits. This driver is extremely popular with carpenters and framers up north, where most wood screws you find are square head.


Where Things Stand Today

Today, the screw landscape has shifted quite a bit. Phillips is still popular but there are many more varieties of screw heads now able to be mass produced and the Robertson screw has made it to other parts of the world. The global market is smaller, more accessible and the arrival of the internet has produced a loud voice for Robertson screw supporters. But you can rest assured no matter what screw becomes the most popular, Megapro will always be ready to provide you with a tip to help drive it.


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