Toboggan Building Part II

Toboggan Building Part II

As I have mentioned before, the original toboggans of the North used babiche for fastening the crosspieces. Babiche is a cord or lace made by cutting long circular cuts in an animal hide. These days for serious traditional toboggans the crosspieces are held tight to the boards with nuts and bolts.

One of the first instructions I received from my Mentor when I was starting out was that I should continue to use square drive (Robertson) fasteners. At first this was counter intuitive. Working in the construction trades here in the US the square drive fasteners are much maligned. They are known to be notorious for stripping out the socket when installing or removing fasteners.  My mentor instructed me that not everyone in the bush will have a Slot head, or a Philips screw driver. But everyone will have a square drive.

Perhaps the reason much of the U.S. hasn’t embraced square drive, is because you can’t find a decent driver bit to run these screws. The only square drive bits that I have found in the US are one piece bits like the Slot, Philips, and Torx. These bits are forged into one solid piece out of varying hardness steel. It’s hard to find good ones, and most that you buy don’t seem to last very long before the tips start to wear and round over…some don’t fit well in the first place. That’s when a bit is shot in my opinion.

The reason Torx drive is most popular with the construction trades in the US today, is that the bits used to drive the fasteners are least likely to strip out and last the longest. They are also quicker to properly engage than the Philips or Slot drive.

For years I bought all my fasteners in Canada, and also all my #2 and #3 square drive bits. These bits have a carbide insert in the tip. The tip is tapered slightly for a quick engagement to the fastener head and when fully seated is absolutely tight fitting. The corners or edges of these bits never round off. They last a long time as well. What finally gets them, especially when running larger screws tight with a clutched electric screw gun, is the carbide tip will snap off…but that’s usually long after you get your money’s worth.


(From left to right…US made one piece #3 Robertson bit, Flat Socket Square Drive Machine Screw and Propel Nut, Canadian made carbide tipped #3 Robertson bit.)

I’m quite familiar with the four styles of drivers mentioned here and as for me I’m with the Canadians. With the carbide bits I prefer square socket drive fasteners. They are quick to engage and remove from the fastener. For building sleds they are the simplest and most reliable. However without a carbide tipped bit… not so much. The carbide driver bit is definitely part of the system.


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