Screw You (The Robertson)

Every once in a while there comes along a great invention.

The “Robbie”, aka the square-drive screw, is one of these inventions.

Because the inventor was unwilling to give up control of his product during negotiations in the early days of the automotive industry, the Robertson never caught on in the U.S.A.

I’ve heard they have started making an appearance, but the Phillips is still the defacto standard.

There are many things that can be debated in this world, but this is not one of them. The Robertson is undeniably the best (for many reasons) and anyone who insists on using the Phillips (or God forbid a slotted screw) is just being stubborn.

Other than aesthetics (for a light switch cover, for example) I challenge anyone to give me one good reason why the Robbie is not superior to the Phillips or the slot-head screw.


20 thoughts on “Screw You (The Robertson)

  1. My husband have a long running argument which has turned into a joke. He calls it a common screwdriver, I call it a flathead. Now you call it a slotted… I might have to throw that into the mix just to tick him off.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d never heard of it until today. I have seen screws with square heads but, I assumed they just took hex keys to loosen/tighten.

    A flat head is more universal than a phillips. A flat head can work on the phillips cross head but, a phillips won’t work in a slotted screw. That being said, a robbie won’t work on either.

    I’ve seen some screws with star patterns. I assume those are chinese & come with chinese hex keys.

    It is true that a square screwdriver with square head screws would be more secure in movement. Four corners. Phillips & their screws work pretty well as long as the screw heads are deep enough for the driver to fit snug enough. Flat head screwdrivers should only be operated by individuals with good hand/eye coordination or they will injure themselves…and possibly others.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Phillips can come in a variety of angles and depths. Not Robbie. Robbie comes in 3 sizes but the bevel angles and depths are always the same. The bit always fits. They don’t strip. If they are painted over, you can still get the screwdriver in to remove them. You can’t cut your hand operating them. At least not easily. The U.S. manufacturers recognized they were better like a hundred years ago and wanted to use them. The only reason they were not adopted was due to patent issues. Let’s put a stop to the madness. They are so prevalent here and you will not find a contractor in his right mind who would use anything else.
      Those star pattern ones are known as Torx here and are usually used when the manufacturer doesn’t want something taken apart easily. I have used a dremel cutting disk to turn them into flat heads if worse came to worse.


      1. I saw the three colors/sizes. Not knowing much about them, I am assuming the screws are convex and that is what the Robbie works with? Or, are they concave with a square hole in them? Is the tip of the Robbie hollow, fitting over top or solid, sinking in? You mentioned depth so…

        I wonder if Ford would have made him rich or di**** him?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. They are regular screws but instead of a “cross” pattern like a Phillips they have a square hole. The screwdriver tip is solid and goes in the hole.
        I’m not sure what Ford would have done, but I think Robertson got rich anyway. He held the patent from 1908-1964. He would have got a lot richer if his invention caught on south if the border.


      3. A square hole is hard to strip. Larger area for the screwdriver to get into.

        Since the US has been part of the Paris Convention since 1887, no one, here, would have tried to duplicate a Canadian’s work (hence Ford’s licensing suggestion). The reverse isn’t true. Canada didn’t join until 1925.


      4. Interesting. I have never heard of the Paris convention. I will have to read up on it.
        I plan to do a follow-up on this post with some pictures. It is still shocking to me that something so common here is basically non-existent there. It makes me wonder if there are reverse examples.


  3. I have never heard of these things. I am still living in the land of Phillips/flat head screws. I use whatever is necessary to use with the hardware that I have. They certainly do strip, but I just figured that was because I am so mechanically disinclined. Who knew.

    One good thing about flat head screws is that you can substitute a butter knife. Ha!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Don’t forget the hexagonal screws and bolts that come with the L-shaped “alan key” tools. I like these the best as you can get good leverage on the key when tightening the screw.

    The torx screw is the most pointless bit of security out there. I’ve come across them a lot when stripping down games consoles but a torx screwdriver is fairly inexpensive to buy from ebay.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Slotted seemed to be very popular back in the day (It still is, isn’t it?) and I appreciate the simplistic design. You don’t have to have a screwdriver to screw/ unscrew something. You can use virtually anything that fits in there (my favorite – a knife). However, as Hinoeuma mentioned, it can get aggravating when the item you’re using keep slipping out of the grove. I don’t know what came first, but it seems to me like Phillips is the answer to that problem. You just insert your screwdriver in there and twist. It sits there until you’re done. The robertson square hole can easily become a circle and how can you unscrew it THEN?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In my experience Phillips become stripped and Robertsons stay square. Slotted are no good for driving a screw. You can’t push with any pressure. Slotted look a little nicer when appearance matters.

      Liked by 1 person

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