Japanese Industry Standard - A Quick Guide

At Haus of Tools, we love highlighting unique brands and specific products that stand out to us, but this is going to be a little different. Think of this as more of a public service announcement, providing good information about a unique category of tool sizes available on the international market. For those who have worked on Japanese electronics, cars, or motorcycles, you may have noticed something different about the cross-point screws on these products. The screws don’t fit nicely into your Phillips screwdriver, despite the resemblance. This is because of they are not designed for these screws and can cause damage to them. Today, we are discussing the Japanese Industry Standard (JIS) and the way that it differs from standard Phillips. 

JIS is defined and maintained by the Japanese government in order to regulate the quality of tools and machinery made within the country. The difference from standard Phillips is in the point, with JIS featuring a smaller angle that Phillips can’t fill the contours of. These differences may seem minor, but the lack of a snug fit makes a Phillips useless. Oftentimes, Phillips can’t grip the bottom of the JIS screw and will slip or strip the head when pressure is applied.

Aware of this issue, manufacturers that use JIS will often include a dot near the drive of the screw to mark it, but this isn’t guaranteed to be there. Typically, they line up close enough to comparable Phillips-2 or Phillips-3 screw sizes enough to be useable, but the user should still approach with caution. The best way to determine whether a Japanese product makes use of JIS is to check any sort of user manual that’s available, but failing that, attempting to use a tool with a moderate amount of pressure should prevent any harm being done to the product.

Our catalogue features a number of specialty products from around the world, including two Japanese brands that manufacture JIS-sizes, such as Ko-ken, which we highlighted back in March and Vessel, which we highlighted last year. For anybody looking for JIS bits, I would recommend anything from Ko-ken's Z-series but for screwdrivers nothing beats the Vessel Ball-Grip Screwdriver in terms of quality and how sturdy it feels in your hand.

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