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Fastener Basics

Common Fastener Types Fastener Materials

Hex bolts, or hex cap screws, are used in Note: Do not rely on this guide for color-matching. The
machinery and construction. Can be used with a appearance of these materials sometimes diers signi-
nut, or in a tapped hole. Fully threaded hex bolts cantly from the photos below.
are also known as tap bolts. Zinc-plated steel is a
low carbon steel for
Wood screws have large threads and a smooth
general use. Relatively
shank f or pulling two pieces of material together.
inexpensive, with the
They can be used in wood and other soft materi-
zinc plating providing
moderate corrosion
Sheet metal screws have sharp points and resistance suitable for
threads, and are designed to be driven directly indoors or otherwise
into sheet metal. They can also be used in softer dry conditions. Color is
materials like plastic, berglass, or wood. either a blue-ish tint or
Machine screws are fully threaded for use with a yellow depending on the exact process.
nut or in a tapped hole. Certain types are some-
Hot-dipped galvanized
times referred to as stove bolts.
steel has a thicker zinc
Socket screws are machine screws with an coating for better
internal hex socket (Allen) drive. Longer lengths corrosion resistance,
may have a smooth shank. making it suitable for
outdoor use. Because
Lag bolts, or lag screws, are large wood screws of the thick plating,
with hex heads. Typically used for wood only galvanized nuts and washers will t
construction and landscaping. galvanized bolts. The coating typically has a
Carriage bolts have smooth, domed heads with rough, dull grey nish.
a square section underneath that pulls into the Stainless steel oers
material to prevent spinning during installation. good corrosion
Nuts are used to fasten machine threaded resistance, making it
fasteners in through-hole applications. Lock nuts suitable for outdoor
help prevent loosening. use and marine
applications, but is
Washers spread the load over a greater surface more expensive than zinc plated.
area when tightening a bolt, screw or nut. Lock
washers help preventing loosening. Chrome and nickel
plated steel are
smooth and polished
Tip: Find a more comprehensive fastener type chart at
for appearance. The
plating oers moderate corrosion resistance.
Grade/Class & Fastener Strength
Brass and bronze are
Fastener Grade (US) or Class (metric) refers to the mechanical proper- copper alloys with good
ties of the fastener material. Generally, a higher number indicates a corrosion resistance.
stronger, more hardened (but also more brittle) fastener. More expensive than
For a chart of fastener grades, head markings and mechanical properties, see steel, these materials
Bolt Depots Grade markings and Strength Chart at are typically used for
decorative applications.
US bolt head markings Metric bolt head markings Colors can vary
Alloy steel is highly
8.8 10.9 12.9
hardened and usually
Low Carbon Grade 5 Grade 8 Class 8.8 Class 10.9 Class 12.9 black oxide and/or oil
coated, oering little
Note: In addition to these markings, the head will often have a manufacturer stamp. corrosion resistance.

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How Fasteners are Notated: An Example

Machine screws, Phillips pan head, Stainless steel 18-8, #12-24 x 1"

Fastener type Material Diameter Length

Thread Count (TPI)

Drive Types Head Styles Measuring Diameter

Phillips and Slotted Hex heads are typically For most
drives are common used with larger bolts and types of
Phillips Slotted in screws, but prone screws, and tightened with a fasteners,
to cam-out wrench. the diameter
(stripping). Pan heads have a slightly is measured on
domed head that sits above the outside of
Combo drives, that the threads.
the surface.
can be used with
Combo either driver, are Flat heads are installed in a Note: US diameters under 1/4 are given as numbers (e.g.
available for many countersunk hole for a at #12) instead of inches, in order of increasing size. If you need
fastener types. surface. to nd the actual diameter, use a table corresponding to your
fastener type at
Frearson and Pozidriv Round heads are tall domed
are similar to Phillips, heads, used primarily for
Frearson Pozidriv but less prone to decorative purposes.
cam-out. Thread Count & Thread Pitch
Oval heads are a low
domed and countersunk Machine threaded fasteners specify a thread
Hex socket (Allen) density in Threads Per Inch (US) or as a Thread
drives are compact heads, used primarily for
decorative purposes. Pitch in mm (Metric).
Hex socket and easy to drive, but
(Allen) prone to cam-out. Truss heads are slightly For a given diameter, a fastener may be available
domed, with a wide head for in coarse (standard), ne and sometimes super
Star and Square drive an extra large surface area. ne thread.
are resistant to
cam-out and can be Socket heads are narrow
Star Square with a socket drive, and
installed single-
handed. knurled or smooth sides. Measuring Length
Button heads feature a Fastener length is
Note: Most drive types (Frearson and Slotted medium dome. Typically usually measured from
being notable exceptions) require the correct used with a hex socket where the material is
driver size for proper installation. drive. assumed to be to the
end of the fastener.
Thus, countersunk
Nut & Washer Sizes fasteners are measured
overall and non-counter-
Nut and washer sizes indicate the screw or bolt they t. For example: sunk fasteners are
measured from under the

3/8-16 Hex Bolt 3/8 Washer 3/8 -16 Nut

More Information
Dierent washer patterns have dierent outside
diameters. For example, hardened US washers are At you'll nd:
available in USS (wider) and SAE (narrower) In-depth fastener info
patterns. Fender washers have large outside Charts and tables
Printable lay-over charts
and tools for quickly
identifying fastener sizes
1/4 1/4 1/4 x 1 and types
SAE USS Fender Much more...

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