How to Break Breakaway Screws
A Multipurpose Machine Screw
A breakaway knob screw is ideal for mounting kitchen or bathroom cabinet knobs and pulls, especially when the thickness of the cabinets varies. It is a long screw that has notches in it at quarter inch intervals. It easily breaks off at the notches so you can customize it to the length you need for the configuration of your cabinets.
Having recently become a do-it-yourselfer, I painted the kitchen cabinets. I took out the hardware to do the job right, but when I went to put them back, I realized that the screws were in bad condition and needed to be replaced. I saw that I needed three different lengths of screws. I also needed a cabinet pull for the new cabinet we put in. I went to the local hardware store, and while I was waiting for a clerk to assist me and reassure me that I was buying the right sizes, I discovered this package of breakaway knob screws.
The clerk did not guide me to the breakaway screws, but to individual packets of three different lengths. This would require me to buy more than I needed and would cost more. I asked him if the breakaway screws would work, and he said they would.
I took the package of the breakaway screws and a new cabinet pull home. When I opened the package for the cabinet handle, I saw that it too came with breakaway screws. However, neither package had directions on how to use the breakaway screws. I remembered that the new lock on the storm door had something that could be broken, and its reviewers had mentioned hacksaws and my contractor had used wire snips. I do not have those tools. As it turns out, I didn't need them.
What Tools Do You Need to Break Breakaway Screws?
Besides the breakaway screws, of course, you only need some simple tools to break the screws.
- Measuring tape
- Two pairs of pliers
As you will see, we did not have these basic tools, and were still able to break the screws where we needed to.
How to Break Off Breakaway Screws
The procedure for breaking off breakaway screws is simple.
1. Measure the screw to determine where you want to break it. It is notched at every quarter inch, so simply decide which notch you should use. Remember, you want to measure not only the thickness of the cabinet, but also the part that will be used to hold the cabinet knob or pull.
2. Take a pair of pliers and put it on one side of the notch you are going to break. Hold this side firm. Use the other pair of pliers to simply move the screw up and down to break it off.
Have you ever used breakaway screws?
Our DIY Experience with Breakaway Screws
The design of the cabinet made it difficult to use the measuring tape. The very top of the drawer was skinnier than the part where the handle would go. Instead of a measuring tape, I simply put the screws in and visually saw where the screw needed to be broken off.
I had a hard time breaking off the screw by myself, so I enlisted some help. We did not have two pairs of pliers. For most of the drawers, we used a pair of pliers and a wrench. To make sure that you break it in the correct spot, keep one tool close to one side of where you want to break the screw, and with the other tool on the other side, bend the screw until it breaks off. That's it, that simple.
We had added a new cabinet on the other side of the dishwasher. I bought a drawer pull, and it came with breakaway screws. For this drawer, we broke the screw while it was still in the drawer. we put the screws in, but not all the way, so that the part we wanted broken was close to the edge of the drawer. We didn't have it all the way to the edge to avoid scraping the drawer. Then we used only the pliers to bend and break them. You do run the risk of ruining the cabinet if you use this method, so only use it if you are sure the cabinet is sturdy and can take this kind of pressure.
While you do need to have some strength to break them, these fasteners do come in handy when having to deal with multiple thicknesses of cabinets. They will save you money since they keep you from buying multiple packages at different lengths. They could also save you time of having to return to the store if you bought the wrong length. They are quick to break where you want, but they do feel like they are sturdy enough to last and do the job of holding a cabinet knob or pull.
© 2013 Shasta Matova