The Fascinating World of Fasteners

This should be a fun month as we are going to take a look at a variety of fastener tips and techniques to make your installations more professional, neat and efficient. Proper and professional fastening techniques are an area that is critical and often overlooked by all but the most seasoned professional.

Why Settle for Plain Old Screws?

What better place to start than with security fasteners? This is a subtle technique that can make your projects a little bit better than your competitors’ standard installations. Additionally, it’s a feature that may allow you to charge a little more. It is a method that will make perfect sense to your customers, who will probably ask, “Why aren’t all systems installed this way?”

Security fastener applications can include equipment boxes, access readers, CCTV camera mounts, key stations, cabling, contacts, sensors and local sounding units. True tamper-proof fasteners can be offered by a dealer as a special service to replace tamper-resistant fasteners on high-cost items such as overhead projectors in college classrooms. Another choice is controlling who physically accesses your installed security equipment.

Tamper-Proof vs. Tamper-Resistant

There are basically two types of security fasteners – tamper-proof and tamper-resistant. A tamper-proof fastener is rare and typically has a unique matching screw socket or driver that is not readily available. This fastener, in many cases, is uniquely registered or assigned to a dealer. Some examples of these fasteners are Uniqz® Keyed-Lok® and Penta-Plus™ tamper-proof fasteners from Bryce (

Most security fasteners fall under the tamper-resistant category. These are screws, bolts, nuts and fasteners that are difficult to remove but not as unique in design and application as the tamper-proof fasteners. They offer a good level of security because a special tool other than your standard Phillips or slot-type screwdriver is needed to remove them. They are also very popular as they can be purchased in small quantities from most security parts distributors and are considerably cheaper than tamper-proof fasteners.

Some examples of tamper-resistant screws and bolts include:

  • Robertson – Often referred to as a square drive, pan-head screw. These have become a popular fastening format in recent years, so its security advantage is less than when I first used them some 30 years ago. This style not only offers some basic security resistance, it is a terrific all-around screw for equipment installations.
    Once the screw is placed on its matching square drive bit, it literally does not like to let go. This fastener type is a must in every installer’s screw pouch. I guarantee your installations will go faster and smoother with these. Once you have tried them you will not go back.

  • Tamper Pruf – This is a trade name for a tamper-resistant, tri-wing type of head (see photo on page 26 of April issue). This fastener is often confused with the tamper-proof category, which this screw is not. This is a popular tamper-resistant screw as it provides a good level of security at a reasonable cost.

  • Rivet Head – This is one of my favorites because, when installed, it will confuse many because it looks like a rivet. If you can find the pan-head versions, they are very difficult to get a grip on without a special driver. The trick is that it is slightly oval and only removed easily with the special matching driver. One present source to try for this type is AvSafe (

  • Pin-Head – Variations of these are somewhat common since many have been used in PC product assembly and the security head sets are easily available. Configurations such as Torx, Phillips and hex have a pin in the middle of the screw head.

  • Spanner – This comes in two types, “snake eyes,” with its distinctive two holes, and spanner, with an exterior small slot on each side of the screw head.

  • Triangular – This is a type of rounded, triangular shape that is not very common. It offers a good level of security resistance. One source is

Equipment Needs to Be Anchored

Making a piece of security equipment physically secure takes the right combination of screw/bolt and anchor for the material being attached. Make sure alarm equipment, such as residential controls, have a good back plate to secure them.

Simple wallboard does not offer much resistance to a physical attack. Instead, try using a preinstalled wooden plate mounted into the studs and behind the wallboard (in new construction), or a surface-mounted plywood plate (in post-construction).

Wall anchors are another area of securing equipment that is often not interpreted correctly. There are a variety of anchors you can use. Some interesting ones include:

  • Zip-It® – A screw-type nylon anchor by Rawl that installs easily with a power driver. Use the metal Zip-It for plaster walls.

  • Legs® – Another slim pin-type anchor from Rawl. The anchor can simply be pushed into drywall with no drilling. It leaves only a thin, indiscreet slit when removed.

  • E-Z Toggle™ – A toggle bolt-type anchor from ITWBuildex. It screws in like the Zip-It, but gives extra support behind drywall with a toggled T-Bar.

This is just a small sampling of what is available. When learning and working with so many different fastener combinations, it is good to use a distributor such as Service Warehouse ( that specializes in security installation hardware.

Use Caution When Tying One On

Fastening cable together is typically done with locking nylon tie-wraps or ties. A few words of caution are in order for tie-wraps use.

First, be careful how tight you tighten them, especially on network cable and video coax. A tight tie-wrap can distort the cable and attenuate signal and data transmission. Use cradle mounts to better fit the cable bundles being secured. Also check out simple nylon push-in mounts for installing tie-wraps in masonry. Many installers now are securing Cat-5 cable bundles with Velcro® straps.

If you are securing cable in air handling areas, look into using special fire-rated ties, such as Plenum Blue®. Additionally, normal nylon tie-wraps used outside will eventually come apart from ultraviolet breakdown. Make sure to use black UV-resistant ties on exterior installs.

If you are doing a long fence run and have many cable ties to apply at a very specific pressure, say to a fence sensor cable, then a pistol grip strapping tool can be very handy as it will quickly complete a tie at the specified pressure to the cable. However, caution must be exercised when using some gun-shaped installation devices.

The photo on page 28of the April issue shows a type of installation tool shaped like a gun. Some tie-wrap tools look similar. Due to our line of work, gun-shaped tools like this can be dangerous when working on a convenience store hold-up alarm, or explaining to security when boarding a plane. My concern is this style of tool can be mistaken for a real gun. If you work with such a tool, I suggest you at least spray paint it bright orange.

If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

Security Is Our Business, Too

For professionals who recommend, buy and install all types of electronic security equipment, a free subscription to Security Sales & Integration is like having a consultant on call. You’ll find an ideal balance of technology and business coverage, with installation tips and techniques for products and updates on how to add sales to your bottom line.

A free subscription to the #1 resource for the residential and commercial security industry will prove to be invaluable. Subscribe today!

Subscribe Today!

Get Our Newsletters