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One of our most frequently asked questions is how to install the fasteners we carry. For many of the screws, customers are unsure of how to drive them in due to the head shapes. For bolts, screws and nails, customers are often concerned with damaging the finish. Here are some tips on installing each of the fasteners we carry.

All lag bolts by all manufacturers will break if installed improperly. A lag will generate tons of friction when being installed. We've seen many large lag bolts broken off due to improper installation, the wood must be drilled out to about 3/4 of the diameter of the lag screw. Only the lag's threads should make contact with the wood. Lags should be lubricated with wax or soap prior to being installed. Lag bolts should also be allowed to cool while installing them. Using a drill or an air gun will generate tremendous amounts of heat, causing the metal to weaken during installation, increasing your chances of breaking the lags.

Please refer to the following pilot hole chart when installing lag bolts...and lubricate your lags.

Lag Diameter Pilot Hole - Hard Wood Pilot Hole - Soft Wood



















HCL-07 & HCL-10

Square Head Lags and Rustic Irregular Square Head Lags can be easily driven in using 8 pointed sockets or gator grip sockets. Some of the hammered squareheadlags and some of the HCL-10 irregular square head lags willneed to be installed with the gator girp socket or hand wrenched in place due to the ireggular shape from hammering.


We recommend all our fasteners be installed with washers. The purpose of the washer is to evenly distrubute the pressure or load of the threaded fastener, to give a smooth even surface to tighten to, and to prevent pull through.


HCL-09 Hex Head Lags - Almost everyone is familiar with installing Hex Heads, as hardware stores carry these A regular hex socket works well, or a gator grip socket.

To install the Bolts and Nuts it is recommended to use two wrenches or a socket corresponding to the shape of the nut. We carry hex nuts, square nuts, square cap nuts, and acorn nuts. Gator grips work for any, 8-point or square sockets work for the square nuts and regular hex sockets work for the hex and acorn nuts. Typically you won’t need to tighten more than what you could do by hand with a wrench.

When are lock washers needed? Lock washers are needed when the fastener assembly is subject to vibration or wherever back off is considered an issue.

We have 8 different head styles in the decorative screws, 2 of which can be installed with a flat head driver. No matter how you install, we always recommend drilling a pilot hole first to prevent the heads from stripping, and the threads from stretching. View the different decorative screws and wood screws below and their recommended installation methods.

HCS-01 & HCS-04

Hammered Pyramid Slotted Screw and Antique Restoration Slotted Bubble Head Screw are typical wood screws and can all be installed using a flat head screw driver or flat head bit. Again we recommend a pilot hole for these screws.


Decorative ½” Square Pyramid Head Screws all have ½” heads need a pilot hole and can be driven in with a ½” Pyramid Head Driver. Keep in mind, the divers do not fit over the entire head, this prevents the driver from creating a swirl pattern in the surface you are installing the screws into. These can also be driven in with gator grip sockets.

HCS-03 5/16" Head size

Diamond Head Screws are compatible with the Diamond Head Driver. A pilot hole is recommended. Again, This does not fully cover the head in order to prevent swirls. These can also be driven in with gator grip sockets.

HCS-03 All Other Sizes

Diamond Head Screws in all head sizes other than the 5/16" head size have oversized heads and can be driven in with gator grip sockets.


Thick Square Pyramid Head Screws are best installed with 8-Point Sockets in the corresponding sizes. These can also be driven in with gator grip sockets when using the larger sizes.

For all of our clavos, we suggest drilling a 1/2" deep pilot hole 1/8" diameter and using a rubber mallet to hammer in the nail. If one isn’t available to you, covering the head with a thick piece of cloth (a work glove or something similar) and gently hammering with a regular hammer works as well. The cloth / leather will act as a barrier to prevent any finish from scratching/ chipping and will prevent hammer marks. In the event that the finish is damaged, please use the link under the General Tips for the touch up kits.

Clavos Epoxy

Leather Squares

General Tips

Do not install with impact gun / torque wrench. Installation with impact drivers and similar powertools will void our warranty.  

If possible, we suggest covering the fastener head with cloth to create a barrier between the finish and the driver to avoid scratching/ chipping. If this does occur, Old West Iron does sell touch up kits in all patina finishes.