What is a hex nut? Nuts and Bolts 101

Nuts and bolts hardware

What is a hex nut? Or a cap screw hex head? What about a heavy hex bolt? Or a 12 point flange bolt?

If your head starts spinning when thinking about the vast number of hardware accessories in the world, you are not alone. The industry around screws, nuts, and bolts generates around $27 billion dollars in revenue each year from these items, which will come as no surprise if you have ever stood in the nuts and bolts aisle of your local hardware store or bolt supply business in utter amazement of the sheer diversity of nuts and bolts. Whether you are doing building projects or heavy duty crafts in your home, or you are work with these items for a living, it is absolutely essential that you have the right kind equipment for the job.

Before figuring out exactly which type of nut or bolt you may need, you have to have a clear understanding of what the difference is between these many fastening devices. Below is a quick guide to understanding the difference:

Bolts: Bolts are a threaded fastener. The threads on bolts face externally and are designed to fit inside the threads on a nut. Which brings us to…

Nuts: Nuts are the complementary part to a bolt-designed with internal threads and with a hole in the middle to fit over the bolt. Used together with a bolt, nuts can fasten things very efficiently and tightly.

Screws: Screws are cylindrical with external threads, designed most often to be inserted directly into the items being fastened. Instead of using two parts, like nuts and bolts, most screws are designed to work on their own. Some screws are designed to work with a complementary part, an internal thread, for extra integrity. The majority of screws are fastened in a clockwise motion.

At this point, you may be wondering what the answer is to the original question of a what is a hex nut? A hex nut, said simply, a hexagonal nut, or a nut with 6 edges. There are also wing nuts, slab weld nuts, slotted nuts, and several other varieties designed for specific fastening purposes. Each different type of nut corresponds with a specific type of bolt. Nuts and bolts are designed with different materials and grades, depending on the strength required for the task at hand.

Given all of the different types of fasteners in the world and the variety within each of those categories, trips to bolt and nut suppliers can seem a bit overwhelming in person. One way to handle this is to shop online for these products. You can often save money, insure that no nut or bolt found its way into the wrong bin at the store, and see clearly exactly what the product will look like. Because of this, the next time you pull out the directions to your construction project and wonder wait, what is a hex nut? and where do I find this bolt I need?, consider looking online, picking up a nuts and bolts organizer while you’re at it, and making sure you have all of your fastening bases covered. More like this blog.

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