.....there is nothing superior about the philips head , in fact it is far inferior to most any fastener out there , includeing flathead ....
Hiya Stoney. I enjoy reading your posts, however I would have to slightly disagree with you here.
In high volume automation, such as the Lumber/Millwork buisness which I am in, where machines are setting screws in precise locations, the phillips head screw has the advantage over slotted or flat head screw when it comes to centering the screw before it is driven home.
The phillips screw, by design, once it is placed properly on the driver head is automaticly centered, whereas the slotted screw not having any built in boundries is not- the slot allows for the screw to slide from side to side and therefore the possibilty of not being precisly set is more frequent.
When you are trying to consistently place a screw dead center in a hole only slightly larger than the threads themselves that is a major plus. Add to this your being able to set and forget the screw instead of having to fiddle with it to make sure that it is aligned properly allows for greater speed (one door machine we use sets 18 screws at once - having to double check each screw prior to driving it home is time consuming - time is money).
Yes there are sleeve like devices and such which allow you to somewhat center a slotted screw but that adds its on burdens as well: cost in manufacturing the machine and more to go wrong down the road.
These devices as well may stop the slotted screw from sliding side to side, however they are not as succesfull in preventng the screw from rocking or pivoting back and forth on the drivers edge, which the depth design of the phillips screw does quite well.
Another thing to consider is that the Phillips head gives a greater surface area for the driver to grab onto. Machines which, for instance, use a certian torque to know when a screw is set can do so more reliably because there is less chances the driver will slip in the screw head - in the long run simplicity pays). More surface area means more gripping ability.
Dont get me wrong; in my nearly 20 years as a millworker & the companies sole mechanic I have cursed and drilled out many a phillips screw. Personally I like cap screws.....but they do not work well for hinge applications. Torque crews are great, but not widley used by consumers (take a poll on a street corner: how many people have a phillips head driver in a draw at home and how many have a torque set
.) Popularity is an important issue when sellng a product.
Consider this: It is not uncommon to have home owners come to our shop to upgrade or replace damaged doors in their homes which were originally purchased from us by the contractor that built the house 15 - 20 years ago. The customer needs only choose what type of door slab they want. The door will then be bored and gained (drilled for the lock, the hinge locations routed, and the screw locations drilled) on the same machine their original doors were manufactured on and the new door will fit like a glove on the old jamb (give or take some settling to the house). That is because every hole and screw is in the same exact location as they were in 20 years ago.
I think that Mr. Ford would be proud.