Need help screwing so I can start pulling.
January 22, 2010 6:26 AM   Subscribe

How do I get some screws into a door frame without a power drill?

#1 I am in Thailand. Good tools are difficult to find and prohibitively expensive.

#2 I am not buying a power drill.

#3 None of my friends own a power drill.

I'm trying to install a pull up bar in my door frame since my very expensive froo-froo gym can't fit one in, what with all the elliptical machines and silly Nautilus equipment.

I have looked around for potential pull up spots. The towel over the door is not cutting it.

I want to install this pull up bar in the door frame. It requires me to drive in 6 wood screws, approximately 2 inches long each. I have a screw driver.

I've searched the internet, but haven't found any advice, which seems odd to me. How did people do this back in the day? (old fancy equipment no doubt)

I figured that I need to start a pilot hole of some sort, but I'm not sure.

posted by Telf to Home & Garden (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Pilot hole? Naw. You should be able to drive wood screws into a wooden door frame with nothing more than your own wrist power and a decent screwdriver.

Push only hard enough that the threads "bite", and take your time. Focus on keeping the screws straight (it'll be easier if you stand on something so that you're screwing straight across rather than "up" from a bad angle.)

If the screws keep tipping and falling out when you try to start them, you're either pushing too hard or coming at it from a bad angle. Straight.
posted by rokusan at 6:32 AM on January 22, 2010

You can put screws in without a drill, but you risk splitting the wood. I would not suggest this with a pull-up bar. What you're looking for is a hand-drill, something akin to this. They tend to be much cheaper than power drills, would you be able to pick one of these up? I imagine they would be readily available, they are here.

If you can't, find a nail that is nearly the same diameter as the screw (minus the actual screw-bits, you want it to be the same diameter as the actual shaft of the screw,) and drive the nail in about an inch to an inch and a half where the screws will go. Then just pull it out and repeat.
posted by InsanePenguin at 6:32 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

You can put screws in wood without a pilot hole and a standard screwdriver. It's difficult and time consuming, but is definitely possible. Your arms are going to get very tired from a) trying to drive a screw in over your head and b) holding the pull-up bar up while you put screws in it.

When I've done this in the past, the process went something like this:
-hold thing (shelves, usually) against the wall where it's going to be fixed
-draw marks through the screw-holes on to the wall with a marker
-put the shelf down
-take one of the screws and tap it against each mark with a hammer or the back of the screwdriver so that there's a punch that the screw can dig in to.
-without the shelf, drive each screw in to the wall about halfway and then back them out.
-hold the shelf up, put each screw back in until you hit the end of the hole you gouged out earlier. This should keep the shelf up well enough to tighten each screw all the way in.

If you have someone to help you hold the pull-up bar, it'll make life a lot easier. Your success will vary based on how hard the wood that you're trying to drive into is.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:33 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

If it wasn't clear by my post, I mean for you to use the nail-holes as pilot holes.

And I would definitely suggest pilot holes for a pull-up bar. I don't know how much you weigh, but I know it'll hurt when you break your coccyx if the bar falls out.
posted by InsanePenguin at 6:34 AM on January 22, 2010

I don't know how hard the wood is; this will be easier with softwoods than hard. I would find a claw hammer, and get a few nails of about the same diameter as the screw's smallest diameter (inside the threads). The nail must be smaller than the outside diameter of the threads, but it's okay to be a bit larger than the shank of the screw (not sure that I'm using "shank" correctly.)

Mark the screw locations, drive the nails in the necessary distance, and then pull them back out with the hammer's claw. That gives you pilot holes. Then, get a candle or some bar soap, and rub this on the threads of each screw before driving it in. Make sure your screwdriver fits the screw heads really, really well; if it's too small then it will tend to twist out and wreck the screw heads. If you begin to damage a screw head, STOP, back the screw out and throw it away. If you keep trying to drive a damaged screw you will probably fail before the screw is home, and then you'll have a harder time getting it back out; a few extra screws are cheap in comparison with the aggravation they'll save.
posted by jon1270 at 6:36 AM on January 22, 2010

Ah, too slow.
posted by jon1270 at 6:36 AM on January 22, 2010

Assuming you have a hammer, get a nail that's the same size (or slightly smaller) as the body of the screw (not the threads, the body). Pound the nail in to around the depth of the screw, then remove it. Then put in the screw with your screw driver.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 6:37 AM on January 22, 2010

Hammer and nails to make a pilot hole if you are DIY, otherwise handymen with the proper tools can be found anywhere. Even with a hand-powered drill it would only take about 15 minutes of work to install.
posted by JJ86 at 6:38 AM on January 22, 2010

Also put some paste wax on the threads before you start, makes it much easier to drive them in and won't reduce the holding power.
posted by zeoslap at 6:58 AM on January 22, 2010

Threads on screws are for removal, not installation. Just hammer those suckers in.

Under no circumstances should you try to pound in screws with a hammer. That's a terrible, terrible idea. It won't work, and even if it did, it would never hold.

The nail-hole pilot is a fine idea. Go with that. Soap is another way to lubricate the screw threads to make it easier to drive.
posted by echo target at 7:00 AM on January 22, 2010

previous thoughts:
pilot hole made by nail - good substitute hand-drill
wax or soap on screws - good idea
right size screwdriver so you don't damage the screw head - a very subtle essential

* extra screws so when you damage the screw heads, you can use another one.
* a tall stool so that you're not reaching over your head. You're going to have to really lean on the screwdriver to keep it from sliding out of the slot, so it'd be great to get your screws at shoulder-level or below.
* technique - (1) hold up the bar, mark the 6 spots, put the bar down. (2) make pilot holes on 6 spots (3) thread a waxed screw into one hole on each end (no bar). (4) unthread the screws, and throw them away because the heads will be wonky. (5) pick up the bar. using new screws in the holes you just created, hang the bar loosely. (6) put in the other 4 screws (loosely). (7) tighten all around.
* precision - Unless you are very good at this kind of thing (in which case you probably wouldn't be asking) your 6 pilot holes will not line up exactly with the 6 holes in the bar you're hanging. That's why you install all 6 screws down to the last couple of millimeters before you tighten any of them down all the way.

This is one of those conceptually easy things that might turn out to be very difficult, depending on the details - good sharp screws? softish wood? On the other hand if it turns out to be very hard wood, awkward positioning, cheap screwheads that keep deforming, etc, I would be a huge fan of paying somebody with tools/experience to do it for me.
posted by aimedwander at 7:00 AM on January 22, 2010

What about a chin up bar that doesn't require permanent installation?
posted by electroboy at 7:08 AM on January 22, 2010

Beware. The screws included with, well, ANYTHING, are crappy. If you try to get one in to heavy wood with a hand screwdriver, and you are not at least a little practiced with it, you run a strong risk of stripping the screw - and then you have a screw half in half out and no ability to turn it either way.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:09 AM on January 22, 2010

Telf, back in the day, before this new fangled elec-tricity, craftsmen relied on hand drills. No battery power, just gear ratios and elbow grease. You can buy a non-power drill, but they are harder to find than a 'standard' power hand drill. The upside is they will last several lifetimes. Example on CoolTools
posted by enfa at 7:11 AM on January 22, 2010

Don't listen to caddis; his doors just fell off. But seriously, hammering is a last resort. You'll damage the heads of the screws, and your screws will have a much looser fit than if you screwed them in properly.

Making some kind of pilot hole is good. It reduces any splitting of the wood along the grain.

Use the right screws. Self-tapping screws are essential if you're screwing them in without fully-drilled pilot holes. A twin-thread screw will go in quicker (takes fewer turns). With cheap screws (and cheap screwdrivers) you have the problem of the head getting mushed if you twist too hard or at anything other than a perfect angle. This usually happens when the screw is three-quarters in and you've run out of pilot hole. That's the time to swear and break out the hammer.

And be really careful with your door frame. Not every frame was created equal, and it's quite possible to completely destroy your doorway by hanging your weight from the sides of it.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:12 AM on January 22, 2010

You can definitely hammer screws, but it's generally not the preferred alternative. Pre screwgun days, a lot of people would hammer them in part of the way, then finish up with a screwdriver.
posted by electroboy at 7:14 AM on January 22, 2010

This doesn't answer the question you're asking, but just in case you're interested, something like the Iron Gym "Total Upper Body Workout Bar" doesn't require attaching to your door frame.
posted by ymendel at 7:56 AM on January 22, 2010

Surely SOMEONE nearby must have a drill. Neighbors? Local handyman? Without one you are going to have a tough time, and may split the wood, or strip the screw. Just ask around a bit and I'm sure you'll find one.

This job can be the easiest work of 3 minutes or the most frustrating 2 hours ever, depending on whether you have the right tools or not.
posted by Aquaman at 8:28 AM on January 22, 2010

Can you get auger point screws in Thailand? They drill as they are screwed in.
posted by birdwatcher at 9:25 AM on January 22, 2010

As long as you are hammering in nails for pilot holes, why not just find 6 nails of the right size, hammer them in the whole way and you're done?
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 9:48 AM on January 22, 2010

Since you're going to have 3 screws per side, I don't see why they need to be 2" long. I'd go but some 1&1/4" screws instead. They'll be much easier to drive and since there won't be any pulling force, they should hold just as well.

Trying to hammer pilot holes and then pull the nails sounds like a great way to really fuck up your door frames.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:01 AM on January 22, 2010

You're going to want a pilot hole.
In the days before hand drills, carpenters used a gimlet to drill pilot holes for screws. No idea if such a tool is easy to find in Thailand.
The Swiss Army Tinker knife has a reamer tool that I've found very useful for drilling pilot holes in a pinch.
posted by zombiedance at 12:07 PM on January 22, 2010

As long as you are hammering in nails for pilot holes, why not just find 6 nails of the right size, hammer them in the whole way and you're done?

At some point someone is going to want to take the pull-up bar down, and this is much easier with screws than nails. Plus if you're going to be hanging your whole weight on something, screws have more surface area than nails and grip the wood. This is not only better for the pullupper but the door frame as well.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:38 PM on January 22, 2010

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