The Difference between a Phillips-head and a Flat-Head Screwdriver

My father taught me the difference between a Phillips-head and a flat-head screwdriver.

Tools you need to get started

Tools you need to get started

He had a carpentry bench in our garage in Washington DC. I don’t remember either our VW bug or the blue and white VW van ever being in it. I do remember my dad showing me his tools:  the hand saw, the pliers, the hammer hanging on the peg board along with the wood planer.

“There’s a saying,” he would tell me. “Measure seven times and cut once.”  My dad would measure a number of times — maybe not seven —  before he sawed off a dowel rod of whatever else he was cutting, creating a small pool of sawdust on the garage concrete floor.

He showed me the difference between a Phillips-head and a flat-head screwdriver.   Maybe he was a secret feminist in 1970s, but he saw nothing odd about teaching his daughter about tools.

As an adult this has come in handy.  Enter Ikea. Lured by visions of sleek Swedish design,  I am both inspired and overwhelmed by beautifully designed rooms at the Ikea showroom.  Even fortified with Swedish meatballs, my heart races in the massive warehouse as I search for the correct bin number for the yet unassembled item on the shelf.

Halfway there

Halfway there

Hail the Phillips-head and flat-head screwdrivers. Complement with a hammer and patience.

My entryway console should take 30 steps. Just 30 steps between pieces strewn on the floor and a Nordic design sensibility.

The trick is to not feel overwhelmed, I tell myself.  Take your time. Focus on process, not outcome.  Another trick is coffee, chocolate, wine, exercise breaks when you need them.

My dad showed me the tools. You just need some basics. Then figure out the steps (in some logical order.) Once you have that you can build.

Just think what else I might do?  I might write up that business plan, run that marathon, create that budget or build that career.

Finished Product.

Finished product

Helpful doggie friend

Helpful doggie friend


I have to date assembled two nightstands and a hallway entry console.







PS. For those who might be wondering about the difference:  a Phillips-head will work with a Phillips screw head that has four cross points; the flat-head works with a screw with a single slot only. (pictured in the first photo) 

Got it? Good. If not, let me suggest a Home Depot near you.

Photo credit: me (not the helpful canine)

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