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10/11/2017 Tension vs.

Torque - Portland Bolt

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Tension vs. Torque

QCan someone explain how tension and torque relates to bolted connections?
A We’ll try our best. The relationship between tension and torque should be looked at cautiously, since it is very difficult to indicate the range of conditions expected to be
experienced by a fastener. Torque is simply a measure of the twisting force required to spin the nut up along the threads of a bolt, whereas tension is the stretch or
elongation of a bolt that provides the clamping force of a joint. Bolts are designed to stretch just a tiny bit, and this elongation is what clamps the joint together. Torque
is a very indirect indication of tension, as many factors can affect this relationship, such as surface texture, rust, oil, debris, thread series and material type just to name
a few. Virtually all the torque/tension tables that have been developed, including ours, are based on the following formula:

T = (K D P)/12

T = Torque (ft-lbs)
D = Nominal Diameter (inches)
P = Desired Clamp Load Tension (lbs)
K = Torque Coefficient (dimensionless)

The value of K is a dimensionless torque coefficient that encompasses variables such as those listed above, as well as the most significant variable, friction. The value
of K can range from 0.10 for a well lubricated/waxed assembly, to over 0.30 for one that is dirty or rusty. The values we used when calculating our values are:

0.10 = Waxed/Lubricated
0.20 = Plain, as received condition, slightly oily
0.25 = Hot-Dip Galvanized

The appropriate torque value to use in a specific application is best obtained by using a calibrated torque wrench and a Skidmore-Wilhelm load indicating device to
equate actual torque to the desired tension. For ASTM A325 and A490 structural bolts The Research Council on Structural Connections (RCSC) recommends:

“ The pre-installation verification procedures specified in Section 7 shall be performed daily for the calibration of the installation wrench. Torque values determined
from tables or from equations that claim to relate torque to pretension without verification shall not be used.
RCSC Specifications, June 2004, pg. 62, 8.2.2 1/12
10/11/2017 Tension vs. Torque - Portland Bolt

An alternative and more accurate method for assuring proper tension would be to use a direct tension indicator or DTI. These are available for use with ASTM A325
and A490 structural bolts and are engineered to compress at the proper tension, assuring the installer that the proper clamp load is achieved. Hopefully, this short
introduction to bolt connections helps address some of the confusion surrounding this issue.


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Written October 16, 2007, modified January 30, 2015
Dane McKinnon
Phone: 503.219.6991


August 31, 2017 at 3:09 am
Thank you so much was helpful

February 24, 2017 at 9:18 am
Great work, however a simple manufacturing method is fail 10 bolts and take the average and reduce by 10% of the failure point.

December 7, 2016 at 2:59 am
hi i am robert
manufacturer high tensile bolts
also torquing and tensioning tools
whenever i go to on site for torquing i use tensioning tool so how calculate torquing value in tensioning tool

Dane McKinnon 2/12
10/11/2017 Tension vs. Torque - Portland Bolt

December 9, 2016 at 1:33 pm

@Robert- We are sorry, but we don’t have any experience using tensioning tools, so are unsure how to use them to calculate torque.

Bhola Sharma
October 19, 2016 at 11:04 am
can you send me socket head cap screw 50% torque chart

Dane McKinnon
October 19, 2016 at 11:55 am
@Bhola- Apologies, but we do not have any torque information on socket head cap screws.

R D Carmichael
May 23, 2017 at 6:13 am
carbon steel socket head cap screws torque the same as grade 8 bolts

Dane McKinnon
May 23, 2017 at 7:47 am
@RD- Torque requirements will vary by application type, so we can’t make any specific recommendations. Additionally, socket head screws usually thread into
tapped holes, whereas grade 8 bolts may be used with a nut, so it isn’t an apples to apples comparison.

September 22, 2016 at 10:10 am

We have tested few Grade 8 Bolts & nuts Plain with slightly oil finish of 1.1/2-6 .
And results are torque is approx. 3146 Nm – 3164 Nm, Pretension force is approx. 455 kN – 497 kN & Torque co-efficient is approx. 0.166-0.183.

So, let me know your feedback. 3/12
10/11/2017 Tension vs. Torque - Portland Bolt

Dane McKinnon
September 23, 2016 at 8:46 am
@Jugal- We are not surprise that your values vary a bit from ours. Torque is a tricky and unpredictable measure of tension and can vary from bolt to bolt
depending on the conditions.

May 5, 2016 at 12:12 am
Hi, I used 5/8″ bolt with ASTM A36 material and calculated Torque value by above formula. Through calculations I got 70 N-m torque value but in actual
practise when I measured, it came around 30 N-m until there was a bent in Bolt clamp bar. I used Friction factor of 0.15 and calculated. Not able to understand
why am I getting this huge difference.

Dane McKinnon
May 5, 2016 at 11:12 am
@Asmita- Torque is a tricky subject, and there are many variables that can come into play. Variations are common, although yours seems excessive. Without
having all the information, we are unable to help, but I would start by double checking your values to make sure an error was not made. That said, 70N-m
seems quite high for 5/8″ A36, I would have expected 60 N-m or lower with a K factor of 0.15.

Steve Lee
May 3, 2016 at 11:16 am
Just curious about something I learned – one design called for 1 1/2″ Gr 8 bolt with 2200 ft-lb tightening torque. now the engineer claimed that by specifying a
1000 ft-lb tightening torque will be adequate based his calculation. my comment to him was that then don’t use 1 1/2″ size bolt and go to a 7/8″ or whatever, so
that I can save some money. the other aspect of the bolt property for 1 1/2″ size, in order for this bolt to be effective was that ~ 2200 ft-lb is to apply. please
advise and thank you in advance.

Dane McKinnon
May 3, 2016 at 12:29 pm
@Steve- Torque is a crude method of measuring tension, so more information would be required before a determination could be made. I would discuss more
in depth with your engineer to see what alternatives might be possible. 4/12
10/11/2017 Tension vs. Torque - Portland Bolt

November 27, 2015 at 8:43 pm
What’s amusing is that this equation doesn’t even slightly resemble the ideal model of the simple circular wedge machine that a bolt actually is. It turns out that
this is because friction dominates the demand for input torque. Even though it is the thread pitch term (which cannot be seen here) that actually physically
generates the tension, it becomes almost irrelevant in calculating it!

Yvon Lavoie
November 11, 2015 at 6:01 pm
I have a question,

Someone told me that if I use an helical spring in a particular connection, I shoul decrease the torque applied to the bolt by maybe one half?

I am not a specialist, but I think that it is not right! We should use the same torque??

Am I right?

Thank you very much.

Y. Lavoie

Dane McKinnon
November 13, 2015 at 10:38 am
@Yvon – I believe you are correct, the torque would not need to be decreased because of the lockwasher.

Marcus Ibe
March 12, 2015 at 9:57 am
Specifying bolts sizes and torque value requires you first, analyse the force interaction at the joint you’re connecting, then calculate the tensile stress area
based on 75% of your selected material proof strength. Then specify a bolt size. These days, people just specify over and above what is required without any

Godfred 5/12
10/11/2017 Tension vs. Torque - Portland Bolt

January 30, 2015 at 7:59 am

how do i calculate Torque for a bolt,when there is a 257 KN pre-tension minimum for a 10.9grade M24bolt

Dane McKinnon
February 4, 2015 at 12:12 pm
@Godfred – Apologies, but we do not have any torque information for metric or grade 10.9 fasteners.

Dan M
December 5, 2014 at 11:27 am
This question is a bit off the beaten path. I am reinstalling a handhole cover on a tank. The drawing gives a torque spec of 27 +/-3 ft/lbs. Original gasket was
Grade 1 (65 durometer) rubber. Only gasket material I can get is Grade 2 at (80 durometer). Does the increased hardness of the gasket material affect my
torque value?

Dane McKinnon
December 8, 2014 at 2:00 pm
@Dan – I’m sorry, but we don’t have the expertise to answer this. Apologies.

December 2, 2014 at 7:58 am
Due to stocking of hardware and varying applications, we use a majority of ASTM A574 Screws. If we are torquing ASTM A574 Screws to a Grade 5
torque(due to lesser application requirements), is it feasible that we are more likely to have screws working loose? My thought is that we are not putting
enough tension into the higher strength screw.

Dane McKinnon
December 3, 2014 at 10:29 am
@Jeremy – It would all depend on the application. Static loads may be OK, but if there is movement or vibration, you may have an issue. We don’t have any
engineers on staff, so we can’t really make a determination. Apologies.

Dan 6/12
10/11/2017 Tension vs. Torque - Portland Bolt

November 6, 2014 at 2:28 pm


I am looking for bolts that have rounded/dome ends. Do you know where I could find some? Specifically, I need 1/4-20 stainless steel bolts with rounded ends.
I don’t even know if there is a special name for such, but the closest I’ve come to finding them is this website, and I searched for “round end bolt”


Dane McKinnon
November 21, 2014 at 8:51 am
@Dan – I am sorry, but I am not sure where you could find bolts like that, other than having them specially made. Apologies.

October 23, 2014 at 2:45 pm
Would the coefficient for a lubricated hot dip galvanized bolt be 0.1?

Dane McKinnon
October 24, 2014 at 6:14 am
@Steve – We use 0.10 in our torque calculations, but I have read anywhere from 0.10 to 0.15 is realistic. It will likely vary in that range from manufacturer to

October 17, 2014 at 5:57 pm
Can you explain to me what will happen if we apply more torque on the installed bolt? Example, the required torque is only 200 ft-lb… then we apply 250 ft-
lb…. what will be the effect of this on the structure and on the bolt itself?

Dane McKinnon
October 20, 2014 at 8:26 am
@Mel – Without more information I cannot be certain, but the possibilities include snapping the bolt, crushing whatever you are bolting, or maybe nothing. It
will depend on the capacity of the bolt in question, what you are bolting, and the amount of friction in the bolted assembly. 7/12
10/11/2017 Tension vs. Torque - Portland Bolt

August 2, 2014 at 11:11 am
I used M10 10.9 allen head screw on the aluminium rail. for assembly of bus seats..under rail there is sheet. ı searched a lot. everybody is saying aluminium
reduce the torque value.
ı found 33.9 Nm and 20Nm. difference is too big.
whats your idea?

Dane McKinnon
August 6, 2014 at 8:14 am
@Ersin – Thank you for your question, but our area of expertise is with carbon and alloy steel structural applications, we don’t have any information regarding
aluminum Apologies.

June 9, 2014 at 2:28 pm
Is there a torque chart for different sizes of the ASTM 1554 grade 36 anchor rods?

Dane McKinnon
June 10, 2014 at 1:08 pm
@Jared – These torque charts are calculated for use in steel to steel connections. Anchor bolts are not typically torqued to a specific requirement, as the AISC
says that snug tight is acceptable.

July 20, 2013 at 4:16 am
Any guidance for 3/4″ lag bolts in SYP timber? Specifically a railing base plate with lags into stringer below (perpendicular to grain), with concerns about torque
loading that twists off the lag and how much to reduce this torque to avoid lag damage? Do you have maximum allowable torques for lags?

Dane McKinnon
July 23, 2013 at 9:53 am 8/12
10/11/2017 Tension vs. Torque - Portland Bolt

@Duncan – Apologies, but we do not have any engineers on staff, so cannot comment on application-specific questions like this. I am not aware of any
allowable torque values for lag bolts.

June 29, 2013 at 10:53 pm
P = Desired Clamp Load Tension (lbs), is this the value given in kips on the RCSC code, if so how to convert to lbs

Dane McKinnon
July 2, 2013 at 9:32 am
@Alex- Kips=1,000lbs. So 51kips=51,000lbs of tension.

June 13, 2013 at 12:45 am
Hi, I need the Torque report format, Could you provide format(sample)? Until we dont have the format.Thanks

Dane McKinnon
June 14, 2013 at 3:13 pm
@Jegan- I am unsure what you are requesting. You can download the torque chart as a pdf, or you can print what you see on the screen.

Lily Well
November 8, 2012 at 1:22 pm
For 5/8″ Step bolts, of SAE grade 2, what torque value should we be specifying during installation. This is for a transmission line tower.

Dane McKinnon
November 8, 2012 at 1:46 pm
@Lily – That is a difficult question to answer. We have torque values on our website, but every application is a bit different, so there is no one all encompassing
torque value that works for all applications. Controlled lab testing is the only sure fire way of determining your specific torque values. /technical/bolt-torque-
chart/ 9/12
10/11/2017 Tension vs. Torque - Portland Bolt

Manoj V K
June 14, 2012 at 1:04 am
@Dane McKinnon -Thanks

Manoj V K
June 12, 2012 at 2:17 am
The same above mentioned formulae are used for calculating torque for countersunk screws or any other multiplication factor available…???

Dane McKinnon
June 12, 2012 at 6:51 am
@Manoj – The torque formula would differ from the one listed because screwing into tapped holes usually creates a longer thread engagement which can
affect the friction coefficient. An engineer would be the best person to consult regarding this.

September 29, 2011 at 10:31 am
Hevii Guy,

There is no such thing as an overtightened connection, until you break the bolt in tension. RCSC – Sec. 9.2.4, states: “A pretension that is greater than that
specified in Table 8.1 shall not be cause for rejection”

Mike Girard
July 22, 2010 at 1:44 pm
Just a minor point of clarification: Torque is not energy. It is a twisting force.

Jonathan Waltner
July 29, 2010 at 2:49 pm
@Mike Girard – You are absolutely right. The content of the post has been updated. Thanks for catching that. 10/12
10/11/2017 Tension vs. Torque - Portland Bolt

Hevii Guy
March 22, 2009 at 8:39 am
Direct Tension Indicationg washers provide a false sense of security: They cannot indicate whether the joint has been overtightended. Neither do they provide
a means of checking load migration after initial installation.
Skidmore-Wilhelm machines provide an accurate indication of torque to load but ONLY on the exact fastener being measured under the the conditions
experienced in the device AT THAT TIME. Once the tested wrench is used in the field, myriad friction factors and load interactions mean that all bets are off;
one has no way of knowing what the actual load will be – it’s still a “guessing” exercise unless load is verified AFTER the bolt has been tightened and then
again, after all of the other bolts have been tightned (to compensate for load transfer)

Adam Oakley
April 7, 2008 at 8:34 am
Galliou » It is hard to say if these calculations would be very accurate for anchor bolts. The biggest uncontrolled variable when determining torque is friction.
Since the surface between the bolt assembly and the joint surface in the field can vary greatly it is difficult, if not impossible to accurately estimate torque for
anchor bolts. One option would be to consider load indicating washers. This washer will give consistent tension values regardless of environment.

April 7, 2008 at 8:30 am
Is the “Bolt Torque Chart” applicable for anchor bolts?

Adam Oakley
January 8, 2008 at 3:43 pm
Bryan Carr » The formula from Industrial Fastener Institute (IFI) “Design of Bolted Connections” (M-64), used to determine values for our toque chart states it is
meant for, “… steel bolts in their as-received condition.” Although, IFI goes on to state there many factors (surface texture, material hardness, thread series)
that only have a “modest effect” on the torque-tension relationship. The primary influence on torque calculations is coefficient of friction. Again, the only
“correct” way to establish an accurate torque value is to test the fastener in their actual joint application.

Bryan Carr
January 8, 2008 at 3:22 pm
Should you torque a bolt to a recommended torque even when using helical spring lock washers? 11/12
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