Many people know the basic terminology of carpentry and home improvement, but plenty are still confused by some common terms of tools and building supplies.
Nuts, bolts, and screws are all relatively simple pieces of mechanical fasteners. But some people don’t understand how they differ or work together in modern construction projects.
This article explains what nuts, bolts, and screws are, as well as the advantages of each of them.
Table of Contents:
- What Is a Mechanical Fastener?
- What Is a Nut?
- What Is a Bolt?
- What Is a Screw?
What Is a Mechanical Fastener?
It is a mechanical or structural device that fastens two or more objects together, usually with relative motion, to remain secure until separated by force.
This doesn’t mean they are locked in place until removed, but rather there must be some effort to separate them once joined. Common examples include nuts and bolts, screws, and nails.
Below are a few characteristics of a mechanical fastener:
- Mechanical fasteners are used to attach one object or material to another
- They are usually composed of a head and shank, which are either threaded or smooth
- Also, they can come in various shapes such as hex nuts, Phillips-head screws, and more
- These can be created from many materials like steel, brass, aluminum, etc
Advantages of Using Mechanical Fasteners
Tool maintenance is easy and simple
When an impact driver or drill gets too hot from overuse, just let it rest. Likewise, when a screwdriver wears out or bends, you don’t have to buy a whole new set; just buy a replacement tip.
Using mechanical fasteners saves time in production when compared to using pre-made bolts and screws.
This means cost savings for both companies that manufacture their parts and companies that purchase those parts to complete their products.
Installation is simple and easy in every work direction
Mechanical fasteners are a lot easier to install than pre-made bolts, screws, rivets, etc.
If you’ve ever tried to put a nut on a bolt and had it spin around like a top because your hands were too greasy from working with other parts all day, you know how valuable that advantage can be.
Much space isn’t needed within the tool
Space is at a premium in assembly plants, making finding a place to store bolts and screws difficult.
Because mechanical fasteners require no extra space beyond what’s already being used by an impact driver or drill, they’re an ideal solution for any organization concerned with maximizing storage capacity.
Solutions like rivet, self-piercing, and clinching are available
Rivets are convenient if you want to secure two parts together with a single point or a minimal number of points for as long as possible.
They’re best suited for high-stress applications where they must stay put.
One type of nut suitable for sheet metal of various thicknesses
Another advantage that mechanical fasteners have over pre-made ones is that one type can be used in many applications. This makes them much more versatile than their pre-made counterparts, which must be custom-made to suit specific circumstances.
What Is a Nut?
This video explains that a nut is a fastener with a threaded hole; nuts are almost always used in conjunction with bolts to fasten multiple parts together. Also, the video goes into detail about different types of nuts and their applications.
A nut is a fastener of an external thread usually used to connect two pieces.
The threads of a nut turn in a way that allows them to screw onto their corresponding bolt, and they’re typically held in place with a washer or lock washer and tightened down with a wrench or screwdriver.
Below are characteristics of a typical Nut:
- Can have set screws but will not have pop-rivets as some bolts do
- Usually has grooves across its width called flats (but not always)
- Typically has four square corners (but can also have six)
- Has a flange or lips on each side of its outer face
- Has threads on both sides
Types of Nuts
There are many variations of nuts, and they each serve a specific purpose in their application to various projects. Check the chart above for more details on them.
Advantages of Using a Nut
- It is simple to install and uninstall
- They are good for tight locations
- Nuts don’t need heat treatment
- They are easy to remove
- Nuts are resistant to rust
- Tightening is easy
What Is a Bolt?
A bolt is a fastener that screws or locks onto a nut to hold something together. Bolts are typically cylindrical. It can be slightly flat if used with nuts that have vertical slots instead of grooves.
Additionally, they’re threaded or smooth shanks ranging from small machine screws to heavy-duty drill bits.
Types of Bolts
This video explains that bolts are a family of threaded fasteners and are paired with threaded nuts when in use, usually to join two or more components together.; Uses and common types of bolts were also discussed.
Bolts have various shapes and sizes, each with its own set of qualities that make them useful for a variety of applications. Check below for what they’re called.
- Anchor Bolt
- Blind Bolt
- Carriage Bolt
- Double End Bolt
- Eye Bolt
- Flange Bolt
- Hex Bolt
- Machine Bolt
- Penta-Head Bolt
- Round Head Bolt
- Shoulder Bolt
- Socket Head Bolt
- Square Head Bolt
- T-Head Bolt
Advantages of Using a Bolt
- It won’t loosen when subjected to vibration
- There is no need for skilled labor
- Bolts allow for easy operation
- It has high strength
- Low cost
What Is a Screw?
This video explains that a “screw” is one of the most commonly used mechanical devices globally. It converts rotational motion into linear motion. A Few uses of a screw are also mentioned in the video.
A screw is a threaded fastener that may be used with pre-drilled holes or threads for fastening, joining, or adjusting components.
It will usually have a helical ridge running down its external surface to guide a mating thread, often in conjunction with a nut or an object such as a washer.
Types of Screws
Screws can be round, plump, thin, short, long. Each type has different applications. Some of their names are listed below.
- Decking screw
- Pan-head screw
- Hex cap screw
- Hammer drive screw
- Socket-head cap screw
- Oval head screw
- Wood screw
- Sheet metal screw
- Thread-rolling screw
- Socket-head screw
- Set screw
- Weld screw
- Drywall screw
Advantages of Using a Screw
- There are several sizes and shapes
- Screws are rust-resistant
- Screws are very strong
- It is easily removable
- Screws are reusable
Is a bolt stronger than a screw?
Yes, a bolt is more robust than a screw because it has internal threading that can help it to be tightened or loosened with some torque.
This means it can be used in situations where much strength or pressure needs to be applied, such as fixing heavy machinery onto metal poles.
A nut and screw are designed for lower force applications, such as turning decorative furniture knobs or fixing smaller pieces of machinery together with no extra pressure needed.
What makes a bolt and a screw different from each other?
A bolt has a head on it that needs to be tightened onto something with a tool, while screws have threads that make them easier to tighten by hand.
The heads of bolts can also come in different shapes – hexagonal heads are common, but there are other styles available for different uses.
Do bolts and nuts always go together?
No, they do not. Bolts and screws can be used separately to achieve different results – for example, you want a light piece of furniture or machinery to move easily.
It’s also possible to combine them in some situations – if you have a heavy item that needs stability or support and needs easy movement or access, fastening a bolt into place can help achieve both goals at once.
How to Choose The Right Mechanical Fastener?
In choosing the most suitable mechanical fastener for you, you might want to ask yourself, “What type of job will I be using my mechanical fasteners for?”
There are a lot of different mechanical fasteners on the market, and each one has a specific purpose and can accomplish certain tasks better than others can. Understanding how each one works is what it takes to choose them correctly.
Choose The Suitable Thread
When choosing what type of mechanical fastener you need, the first thing that you will want to think about is which material you will be working with and what size hole it needs to go into.
Next, you should determine how much torque or pressure you will be applying to your fastener, which can help determine the size and style of bolt or screw you need.
Then pick out a length that is appropriate for your job.
Take the materials of construction into consideration
When choosing your mechanical fasteners, you will also want to think about what material you will be working with.
For example, if your project is outdoors and subjected to weather conditions, you might need a different material that will only be used indoors where it won’t get wet or have a chance of rusting from rain or moisture build-up.
Additionally, if your project is exposed to extremely high temperatures, certain metals might not work for your application.
Understand the application:
The last thing to consider when choosing your mechanical fasteners is to understand what you will be using them for and what purpose they will serve in your project.
For example, if you need a really strong bolt that won’t get worn out quickly, it is probably best to go with steel over aluminum or other materials that might not be as durable and long-lasting.
What do you call a bolt with no head?
There are various sorts of bolts that don’t have the standard head. For example, a hanger bolt has two threaded ends, one fashioned like a wood screw.
If you need to attach something overhead or fasten metal to wood, you can use one of these fasteners. A stud bolt is a bolt that does not have a head.
With nuts on either side of the bolt, you may make flange connections with these fully threaded fasteners.
The main difference between a bolt, a nut, and a screw is their construction. A Bolt is smooth and cylindrical with a round head; you screw it into something using its threads, which are grooves that grip material as you turn it.
A screw, on the other hand, has a spiral groove running down its shank that interacts with pre-threaded holes to hold two pieces of material together (the technical term for a threaded fastener like a screw or bolt is threaded fastener).
Finally, nuts have external threads designed to interlock with internal threads on bolts and screws to hold them firmly in place.