I've had some previous threads about "hidden deck fastening systems". Wanting to deliver the BEST install possible to my customers, and having had a few bad experiences with hidden fastener systems that use a clip and/or groove on the decking edge, I wanted as close to face screwing as possible yet no visible fastener. Dora reminded me of the Camo system, and I was also aware of the Kreg system.
In prep for a deck job next week, western red cedar, with hidden fasteners, I figured I better do my homework and try out the two top candidates for essentially face screwed fastening. So earlier today I bought both the Kreg and Camo systems, including a supply of their screws, and tried them out on some scrap decking I had. Goal was to see how they performed both with the decking perpendicular to the joist, as well as in a 45 degree installation.
The Camo Marksman Pro system is about $50, includes the jig, a bit and a few screws. This jig clamps onto the decking, freeing up both hands to load the jig (both sides if desired) and run the screws in. The screws self-release from the driver at the correct depth. The jig has a built-in stop which spaces the decking 3/16" from the previous board. Installs on a 45 degree joist are accomplished by offsetting the jig such that the guide is on the "high side" of the joist edge. This allows the screw to still come down at 90 degrees to the decking, but into the joist at an angle.
The Kreg runs about $100 and includes a jig, some decking spacers, both a pilot hole bit and a driver bit, and a bag of screws. This jig requires one hand to hold it in place, but has a similar approach to providing a guide for the screws. Only one side at a time with this one, plus the depth is set via an adjustable collar that gets set-screwed onto the driver bit. Kreg includes both 1/4" and 5/16" spacers, which may be placed between the two deck boards. (I can see these spacers falling "down below" at just the wrong time...) Angled decking is fastened just like the Camo. The Kreg has two additional angled pilots, used for butt joint fastening - a nice feature if you join decking on a single joist.
As I said, both provide a guide for the proprietary deck screw, the intent being that the screw comes in from the decking edge, on an angle, and goes directly into the joist. Nice feature with this is screws are easily removable if needed, are essentially hidden from view, yet still provide the holding power of face screwing. The Camo screws have what looks like a clipped point which does a decent job of augering a pilot hole. Then there's a reverse thread at the top of the screw which is supposed to further pull the decking down tight against the joist. The Kreg uses pretty much a conventional thread design.
First, I fastened the 5/4" deck board to a pair of 2x4s using the Camo jig and screws. You can see the results... Nice sanitary install.
Second, I fastened another 5/4" board, spacing it with the Kreg 1/4" spacers. Splitting wood and hard to control depth was the result, and even with the spacer, the drill bit hit the adjoining board, damaging it as shown in the second photo below. I suspect there's an elevation problem here that I haven't figured out yet...
I figure I am missing something with the Kreg system, as these guys are normally pretty decent on their product design. (For example, they say to pre-drill the holes with an included bit, but no way I've got the time for that and I shouldn't need to on western red cedar anyway!) But at twice the price, screw availability issues (they're hard to find for me), a tendency to split the wood, and the driver bit damaging the previously installed deck board...
Edited add: In my haste to try these two systems out, I neglected to install little rubber "feet" on the bottom of the Kreg jig. Installation of the feet will further elevate the jig, and this coupled with pre-drilling the holes SHOULD eliminate both the adjoining board damage, as well as the splitting problems described above. I may have to "re-test" the Kreg... Kreg install video.