Fasteners like nails, screws and nuts and bolts are a fundamental and essential part of the construction process irrespective of whether the project involved is a minor home DIY task or a large-scale professional undertaking. One of the functions of fasteners is to hold two surfaces together in a firm and lasting manner although fastening with hardware like nuts and bolts is not the only way to accomplish this. Objects can also be affixed by means of welding joins, glue and cement, for instance, depending on the circumstances involved.
A bolt is basically a screw with a blunt end instead of a sharp one. Both of these types of fastener have a ‘thread’ which is essentially a raised ridge winding in a spiral around the shank of the bolt or screw. The main difference between them, however, is the fact that a bolt is invariably accompanied by a nut to function effectively. The nut typically also has a thread which allows it to be twisted onto the bolt so that the two adjacent surfaces that require joining are squeezed between the nut and the bolt head and thus held together.
However, even though nuts and bolts stay together through a combination of interlocking threads and torque it is possible for grip of the pair to loosen over time even though the nut was originally properly tightened. Fortunately, it is possible to remedy this by using smooth metal discs called ‘washers’. Washers provide a smooth surface for the nut or bolt head to grip and can help to distribute pressure evenly.
With regards to the design of nuts and bolts, there is a type of nut in existence known as the ‘wingnut’ which literally has a wing on either side that resembles tiny Mickey Mouse ears. The purpose of these ‘ears’ is to allow the nut to be tightened using the fingers and are very useful in instances where they may need to be loosened again on occasion. Then there is the ‘acorn nut’ which was obviously designed by someone with a sense of humor. This aptly named gizmo has a dome on the one end that covers the end of the bolt and is used for decorative purposes, among other reasons. The ‘coupling nut’, on the other hand, is open on both ends, as many fastening nuts are, but it is much longer than normal and is used to join the threaded ends of two sections of rod together.
On the subject of bolt heads, there is the ‘hex’ bolt which is instantly recognizable by its hexagonal shape and the ‘coach’ bolt which are both common styles of bolt head. Some bolts do not have a head as such because the shank is curved or angled to form two ends which may or may not be threaded to take nuts, depending on the design. These curved bolts are typically named after the letter of the alphabet they resemble such as ‘U’ or ‘J’.
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