Self-Tapping vs Thread Cutting Screws – What’s the Difference

Self-Tapping vs Thread Cutting Screws

Screws are essential hardware components used in construction and manufacturing. And there are a wide variety of screws available for different applications. One of the most significant distinctions is between self-tapping and thread-cutting screws. Although they may seem similar at first glance, these screws work in different ways and have unique applications. This blog post will explore the difference between self-tapping and thread-cutting screws, including their uses, benefits, and possible drawbacks.

What is Self Tapping?

Self Tapping is an automatic process of threading holes into sheets, plates or other substrates. This method forms threads in a pre-drilled hole into the material by cutting and forming them while inserting a screw or bolt. It eliminates the need for complex tapping operations, leading to faster assembly times and decreased costs. Self Tapping screws offer superior flexibility while providing strong load capacity and tamper resistance, making them highly suitable for many applications.

What is Thread Cutting Screws?

Thread Cutting Screws are a type of fastener used for joining two or more pieces of material together. They have threading on their shanks that helps secure them into the material they’re driving into and often feature a point at the tip to help ease installation. These screws are generally used with softer materials such as wood, plastic, and sheet metal as they create their threads when being inserted rather than relying on pre-made ones.

Difference Between Self-Tapping and Thread Cutting Screws

Self-tapping screws have a cutting point on the tip that creates threads as they are driven into the material, while thread-cutting screws are formed with pre-made threads and require a matching hole for insertion. The former is used in materials such as particleboard or plastic that can’t be pre-threaded, and the latter is great for higher-tension applications.

Thread Cutting Screws

Thread-cutting screws are designed to cut their threads into a material, such as metal or wood. These screws are available in various sizes and shapes and are commonly used for applications requiring a strong, permanent joint. Thread-cutting screws are typically made from hardened steel and feature sharp cutting edges that can easily cut through most materials.

Self-Tapping Screws

Self-tapping screws are designed to create threads in softer materials, such as plastic or thin sheet metal. These screws have a tapered tip which helps the screw penetrate the material more easily while also creating its thread pattern as it is driven. Self-tapping screws come in various sizes and shapes and can be used for light-duty and heavy-duty applications.


Thread-cutting screws provide greater strength than self-tapping screws because they create deeper threads within the material being fastened together. This creates a stronger bond between the two pieces of material, making them less likely to fall apart. Self-tapping screws also provide strength but not as much as thread-cutting screws due to the shallower thread pattern they create when driven in.


Thread-cutting screws tend to be more expensive than self-tapping screws because they require more precision during manufacturing and have sharper cutting edges which add to their cost. Self-tapping screws, on the other hand, are usually less expensive due to their simpler design and manufacturing process.


In conclusion, choosing between self-tapping and thread-cutting screws depends on the application and the materials used. Self-tappers are ideal for softer materials and are easier to use while thread-cutting screws provide greater holding power and are better suited for harder materials. When deciding between self-tapping and thread-cutting screws, it is essential to consider the type of material, thread design, and compatibility with tools. By carefully selecting the right screw, you can ensure a secure and long-lasting connection in your projects.



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