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How to Break Breakaway Screws

Updated on August 31, 2014
Breakaway screws save money!
Breakaway screws save money! | Source

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.

These are the parts of the screws that were broken away.
These are the parts of the screws that were broken away. | Source

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.

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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.

Breakaway Screws

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

Comments: How to Break Breakaway Screws

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    • profile image

      jorge 22 months ago

      You can kill (or wound) the working part of the thread this way.. :) better grip the head

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 3 years ago from USA

      Thanks Sheri, Tolovaj and Roberta. I think that when people are in a particular industry, they assume that everyone knows what they do, but you're right, I think this is a relatively new product, and with DIY movement, there are a lot of people who don't know these types of things even if they were common. It seems like a simple explanation on the box would be helpful.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      For manufacturers to assume that everyone is familiar with such a product seems a little silly, especially now that so many more people are interested in DIY projects and are willing to step out of their comfort zone to accomplish tasks. Glad you had good success in your project and were able to share what you learned here!

    • Tolovaj profile image

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      Sounds like a very practical solution for a lot of problems from the real world. I am not very handy, so this info is completely new to me. Thanks!

    • Sheri Faye profile image

      Sheri Dusseault 3 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      Well aren't you just the clever one. Good to know!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 3 years ago from USA

      Thanks for your vote and comment Carolyn. Glad to be of help.

    • carol3san profile image

      Carolyn Sands 3 years ago from Hollywood Florida

      Nice Hub. Thanks for the info, it is good for me to know...especially since I am a widow living alone.

      Voted up and useful.


    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 3 years ago from USA

      Thanks Dianna. I am feeling quite empowered with tackling projects I didn't think I could do before. I am learning quite a lot.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 3 years ago from USA

      Thanks Koralee. I'd be happy to put together your desk after I am done with my list of things to do. It might take a decade or two...

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 3 years ago from USA

      Thanks Bill. It may seem like something intuitive to someone who is a handyman, but for me, it took me some time to figure out how to break a breakaway screw.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      You are amazing! I have taken on many projects around the house but not with as great a challenge as this. You have my admiration on how well you solved everything and got it all back together.

    • KoraleeP profile image

      Koralee Phillips 3 years ago from Penticton British Columbia Canada

      Great information! I have a desk I could use your help putting together :).

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      This is one of those things that nobody thinks to write about but everyone wants to know. Great information here my friend.