Color Code Your Faceplate Screws

Photo: Color Code Your Screws (code_screws_00)

Here is my “Color-coding Identifies Screws” tip that appeared in the “Tips” section on page 14 of the AAW December 2023 “American Woodturner” Journal.

I like to use faceplates, so I use various screws to attach workpieces and wasteblocks. I color-code my faceplate screws to avoid using the wrong length screws on various thicknesses of wood. I paint the screw heads pink on my 1½" (38mm) screws and green on my 1¾" (4cm) screws (Photo 1). This makes for quick identification and more efficiency when I am mounting work on the lathe.

Spray-painting the screw heads is made easier if you temporarily screw them into a piece of scrap cardboard (Photos 2, 3).

Photo: Color Code Your Faceplate Screws 1
Photo: Color Code Your Faceplate Screws 2
Photo: Color Code Your Faceplate Screws 3

Screws for Faceplates

Photo: Screws for Faceplates (mcmaster_faceplate_screws)

I like to use stainless steel 1/4″ diameter screws with big course threads in my faceplates.

I get them from www.McMaster.com. They are No 14. "Square-Drive Flat head Screws for Sheet Metal" Number 14 screws are 1/4" diameter.

I have some 2" long screws. I almost never use them. Why? Because they get stuck in the wood. I can’t get them out. They are to much screw.

Sooner or latter, you strip out the square hole in the screw head. I like stainless steel screws because the heads last longer.


When it comes to holding power, it is the screw diameter and thread shape that matters. You need a fat screw that is the same diameter for most of the length with a little point on the end. Thus, you need a Sheet Metal screw.

Wood screws are a long triangular shape. No good. They can easily be pulled out.

Drywall screws are a DEADLY sin! They are made of cheap steel that easily snaps off and sends you to the hospital.

1/4″ Impact Driver

Photo: 1/4

You need a 1/4" Impact Driver to put in and remove the above screws. Something like a "MakitaXDT131 18V LXT" with 1,500 in.lbs of fastening torque.

Go with your favorite brand. If you already have a battery pack then go with that brand.

Note: I actually own an older Makita 1/4" impact driver. It is a Makita 6935FD, 14.4 volts, with 1,240 in.lbs of fastening torque. I REALLY like it. I have 4 of them.

I purchase used impact drivers on Ebay. I look for the impact driver AND battery charger. Replace the worn out batteries with $2x GENERIC new ones from Amazon.

I DO NOT predrill holes for my screws. My Makita 6935FD impact driver puts in the above screws, no problem. Putting a 1-3/4″ long screw into hard maple is like putting a screw into butter!