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Self Drilling vs. Self Tapping vs. Sheet Metal Screws:
A Guide to Terminology

One of the most difficult aspects of being a seller of screws is knowing what your customer is looking for when they ask for self-tapping screws. The term "self-tapping screws" (or "tapping screws", or "self tappers") generally refers to a type of screw that is self starting when driven into material, whether it be wood, metal or plastic. It taps it's own hole. Any screw with a point at the tip can technically be referred to as "Self-Tapping".

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However

When someone requests a self tapping screw, they are generally looking for one of three types of screws:

Self-Drilling Screws
Self-Drilling Screws

You can find screws of this type in our Self-Drilling category page.

Drill bit tip allows for self starting in most materials. No pre-drilling required. AKA self-drillers, drill screws, tek screws.

Type A Screws
Type A Screws

Commonly called Sheet Metal Screws, you can find screws of this type on our Self-Tapping category page.

Type A Self-Tapping Screws are exact matches to standard wood screws, except that they are always fully threaded, while wood screws are not.

Type AB Screws
Type AB Screws

Also commonly called Sheet Metal Screws, you can find screws of this type on our Self-Tapping category page.

Type AB Self-Tapping Screws have finer thread spacing than Type A Screws, and are often preferred, especially when going into thin or brittle material.

Many other types of screws often fall under the "self-tapping" label, but they will most commonly be referred to by a more specific name:

Even some screws without points are technically considered "self-tapping", because they either cut or form the material they're installed in to hold onto their threads: