Driving Screws Into Tough Wood

Last weekend I began working on one more project for the master bedroom -some beams on the ceiling.   After some consideration, and looking for options on how to install them, I ended up with two alternatives:
 - Doing it the easy way, using the joists that were already in place, but not in the places I wanted, or
 - Going the hard way, installing extra supports, so it would look proportional.
I decided to go for the latter one.  Yes, to achieved the way that it would look the best, there was a lot more work involved.

Up there..... I had to go to the attic!

I went up there pretty happy, after all, I was just starting this project!  I needed to attach nine 2x4 supports that would allow me to to suspend the ceiling beams underneath in the room.

No big deal, driving some screws and  installing the beams.  Well, it took me like two hours, paying attention where to step, working around insulation, not that much light, and the angles on the ceiling made things difficult.

Until I got there!  Yes, right there, where things got worse!  I needed to screw my last support, but I was stuck in there, I tried to drive in the screw but I was tired, at a bad angle and stuck!  Actually, I couldn't move in there!

The wood there was really HARD....I simply couldn't drive the screws in.  I called my DH for help, he came taking pictures and asking me to look at the camera :)   but I just couldn't move!   He had to help me get out of there and drive the screws in for me.

Sometimes things that look easy, like driving a screw, can get so complicated.  Many times that's the case for me, especially long screws!  I'm NOT that STRONG!  I have weak arms.  I tried to follow most of the things the "pros" recommend for driving screws, like using a self centering bit, not using a worn bit, using a clutch or lining the screw up and push hard, but that's my problem, as I guess for many of you, we don't have that man power, as simple as that!

That's why I try to always do pre-drills, it takes a little longer at the beginning but save us a lot of hassle later on.

A new tip my husband gave me (he said he read it somewhere?),   is to rub your screws on a bar of soap, once you drive them into the wood they go way easier!  That would've been what I needed up there in the attic, where I didn't have pre-drilled holes.

That's what we're doing while we finish installing those beams!


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  1. Cristina uf sufro con el Inglés haber si entendí !! Para qué fuera más fácil de colocar los clavos ( para remodelar tu ático) los pasaste por jabón ???? Entendí bien???? Eso se le ocurrió a tu marido ??? Genial

  2. Cristina, I've never heard of this, but I sure wish I had! That's a great tip, and I'll definitely be using it. And good for you, climbing up there in the attic! It's no fun, and I don't envy you, but I know your bedroom is going to be spectacular. Can't wait to see it!


  3. Wow, thanks for the tip! I'll surely need it someday... And good luck with your ceiling project!

  4. This is so interesting. I will definitely put this on my list of DIY tips. Thanks for sharing.

  5. look at you Cristina! you are on top of the world err on top of your ceiling! this project looks like a lot of work for you, i just can't wait to see it!!

    that tip i've never heard before, thank you, huggies***

  6. Thanks for sharing this tip, Cristina. I have never heard of that. :) Enjoy your weekend. Megan

  7. What a great tip! I wish I would have known this last week. Keeping that in the vault for future reference! xo Kristin

  8. WOW! I salute you Cristina! Your in for a tough one up there, wish you good luck and be safe!

  9. I am just so glad your hubby was there to come help you! You are braver than I am, I wouldn't dare go up to the attic and try to do something like that~glad it worked out okay, and that is a great tip.

  10. Cristina, hola!! un tip genial, que bueno que lo compartas en tu blog así aprendemos mas y mas! lo tendré en cuenta! Cariños desde Bs As, Argentina

  11. Thanks everyone! Angelica, si, es un buen tip para que los clavos entren mas facilmente en la madera. Estaba colocando unos soportes para instalar unos "beams" en el cuarto que estoy remodelando.

  12. Oh- Yeah- You are one smart chick. I don't do rafters-I an afraid someone will think I am an old bat and smash me down!;>) xo Diana

  13. Eres increible, ahí, andando por el ático con la mascarilla y armada, una guerrera del bricolage!!


  14. the soap is a great tip! kudos to you! I would be afraid to step in the attic!

  15. Just caught up on the January posts! Thank you for the great tip. I bet it would really help on treated outdoor lumber, too.

    The white bedrooms are stunning. Some appear a bit cozier...layering different whites maybe?

    Will also keep Kilz in mind for when I paint my ceilings. Time for a refresh after 6 years!

    Hope to get back to blogging soon. Life and camera issues have prevented any posting. Good news is life issues all resolved; camera issue not so much...must buy a new one :(

  16. I can't wait to try this. I have the same problem with not to strong as I want arms.

  17. Awesome! What a great tip. Seems like it would work really well. You are a much braver soul than I for going up into the attic! Yikes!

  18. Thanks so much for the tip. I'll have to remember this. You're a real trooper, good luck!

  19. You should invest in a quality impact driver. I'm not so strong either and used to have to pre-drill everything. I finally gave up during the beginning of a closet Reno when my shoulder and thumb were so sore I could'nt even move them after forcing 6 inch screws through wood shelves and studs - most of te effort and pain was do to he pre-drilling. So, I ordered the impact driver off amazon - it's a Mikita 12 volt - and went back to work once it arrived. Not only did I not have to pre-drill the studs (I did the shelves because I didn't want to split the wood), I didn't strip one screw as I had done non-stop with the standard drill. It's my absolute favorite and most used tool in my work shop and worth every penny.

  20. Very impressive to see you up there looking like one of the guys. I just learned to use power tools a couple of years ago when a friend and I built my backyard fence. Very satisfying, and empowering!
    Anyway, my claustrophobia would never have allowed me to get into that little space you were in. I'm a little shaky just looking at the photos.
    Good work!
    Toronto Canada

  21. Thank you so much, Anonymous! That's so true. The drill I have is over-due for a replacement since long time ago! Also, thanks for the recommendation, I'm going to check it out!

  22. My Dad used to do this, but I was little and didn't know what it was for....thanks for reminding me.

  23. Great tip! I second the impact driver recommendation. I have a Dewalt that probably gets more use than my drill. Plus, it's more compact which helps in those tight spaces. Keep up the great work.

  24. That's a good tip, Christina. And well done for getting up in the attic yourself and doing all the hard work--wow--I am impressed!

  25. You go girl!!! We use that tip, too! Not always...but when necessary...the attic...TOTALLY necessary! LOL! Love your ambition!

    XO, Aimee

  26. Great tip, pinning for future reference! And thanks for your sweet comment on my Family photo wall!

  27. Hey Christina, fun site. When I was about 10 years old, my grandmother taught me basic carpentry skills. This was about 1968. These were some tips her father taught her. I remember the soap on screws being one of them. You can also use soap on a sticking wooden drawer to make the drawer slide smoothly in and out on it's wooden rails. But another old carpenter tip she taught me was for using a hand saw, which these days, is seldom needed. But back then if you needed to cut a board in half, it was your arm that did the work, lol. Anyway, the tip was to smear some bacon grease on the teeth of the saw. Sure enough, it made sawing lumber WAY easier. Smelled pretty good too, lol. Another of her lessons she taught me had to do with using a hammer. She showed me how the face of a hammer actually tilts in toward you a bit. So you have to hold your hand very low to the surface of the wood you are hammering into, otherwise the nail will bend the wrong way (toward you). Cool stuff. Thanks for making this clever site and sharing. Great photography too.


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