Video: Camo Marksman

Hidden deck-board fasteners not only make a deck look better, they also mean no screw or nail head pop-outs that catch on bare feet, and they eliminate many places that water can collect and deteriorate the wood.

It wasn't long ago that you'd only see hidden deck fasteners used on the expensive, pro-built and custom decks. But now there are lots of hidden deck fastener systems available to the DIYer. I recently tried one of the popular CAMO fastener systems to install the deck boards on a small front-entry deck.

It's basically a drill/driver jig that allows you to easily drive screws through the top edges of the deck boards and into the deck framing. Unlike many hidden deck fastener systems, it doesn't require any extra brackets – just these screws. And it's very easy to use right out of the box.

I simply centered the guide over the joist, fit it over the deck board, inserted the screws in the jig and drove them until the built-in shoulder on the bit's shaft bottomed out on the jig. The bit automatically disengages making it impossible to overdrive the screw.

The jig works great, but you can't overlook the importance of these screws. If you look closely you can see they feature what Camo calls a reverse rake tip that removes material as the screw is driven. It's like the screw is drilling its own pilot hole to prevent splitting. Plus they have reverse upper threads to draw the board down tight to the joist.

It's tough to find fault with this system. I suppose if you're absolutely opposed to creating any additional points of water penetration in your deck boards, then you might not like the small screw holes left at the edges of the boards. You really don't notice them, but I they could collect a tiny amount of water.

In terms of cost, the screws needed to build my 8x12 deck cost about $40 and the Camo Marksman Pro-X1 tool itself costs around $50, but it's a tool I can use again and again on future decks. If you only plan to build one deck, you save some money and still get the same results by going with Camo's entry-level Marksman tool for $20.

Watch my review of the CAMO Marksman Pro-X1: