Question: Inside my lazarette, the points of the self-tapping screws the builder used to mount my shore-power inlet cases are poking right through (see photo). The thought of getting caught and maybe cut on one of those screw points while I'm climbing in and out of the lazarette really annoys me.

I have two questions on this. Is this really the best way to install fittings like these? Now that they’ve done it, what can I do about it?

self-tapping screws

If you can't cut off the sharp screw points with a Dremel tool, try muting them with heat-shrink tubing.

Answer: Truth be told, the best way to do this would have been to drill proper-sized holes for the plug inlet mounting faces and use machine screws with flat washers on the inside and either lock washers and nuts or nylock nuts to hold everything in place. In fairness to the builder though, doing it that way adds extra labor and a higher price for the boat. That’s a real challenge in today’s competitive marketplace. Virtually all production boat builders today use self-tapping screws to hold things in place, and for the most part the method works OK.

All that said, the sight of those sharp screw points and the risk of getting snagged on one while working on boats sends me a little crazy too. I've done two things on my own boat to deal with these screws. If I have enough room to get at the protruding screws I use a Dremel tool with a cut-off wheel installed, and cut off the excess screws flush with the surface they protrude through. That eliminates the snag and skin-gouging potential. On screws that protrude but are too challenging to get at with the Dremel, I’ve taken a different approach. With those, I find some appropriately sized heat-shrink tubing and cut a small piece, just a bit longer than the protrusion. I slip it over the screw and then flash it a few times with a Bic lighter to shrink it onto the screw. Doing this at least reduces the risk of someone getting cut on the sharp point.

See other key questions answered by Ed Sherman, like Is my compass accurate? and Is my boarding ladder safe?

Written by: Ed Sherman
Ed Sherman is a regular contributor to, as well as to Professional Boatbuilder and Cruising World, where he previously was electronics editor. He also is the curriculum director for the American Boat and Yacht Council. Previously, Ed was chairman of the Marine Technology Department at the New England Institute of Technology. Ed’s blog posts appear courtesy of his website, EdsBoatTips.