A broad definition of fasteners, including their types and uses

Fasteners have so many uses and purposes that a specific definition is difficult to achieve. But an easily recognizable and understandable definition of fasteners would be “nuts, bolts, screws and washers”. Fasteners are used to hold something in place, be it a water pump on a pickup, the tin on a roof, a dry wall hanging on studs, or the patio on a deck.

Types of fasteners

The type of fastener a job requires is determined by the material(s) being fastened. Wood, plastic, and gypsum all require different kinds of fasteners. Even within categories of materials, like metal, there are different fastener requirements. For example, the steel on the undercarriage of a vehicle will require a different fastener than the corrugated steel used to cover a shed.

Not only do different materials require different types of fasteners, every fastener has a specific purpose. The purpose of a fastener will determine the material used to make the fastener; the shape of the fastener’s head; the threads of the fastener; the bolt type (if one is required); and whether or not a washer is needed and what style of washer it will be.

Basic fastener types

Two of the primary categories of fasteners are bolts and screws. Bolts require nuts and washers to remain secure. Screws, on the other hand, are drilled into a material and remain in place without being secured on both ends. And, there are different bolt and screw designs, each one serving a different purpose.

Basic bolt types

The biggest differences between the different styles of bolts are the heads and the threads. There are hex head, carriage, elevator, square, flat, and plow bolts, just to name a few. With respect to the threads on a bolt, the most common are standard, course, fine, and lobed. Furthermore, there are a wide variety of different washers and nuts as well.

Basic screw types

Like bolts, screws can be differentiated by the heads and the threads as well as by the material they are made of. Screw heads include Phillips, slotted (flat head), hex, quad rex, spanner and more. In all, there are dozens of head designs for screws! And, screw threads and tips are equally important in determining the type.

While there is no strict definition of a “fastener,” it is fair to say that all bolts and screws are fasteners.

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