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Know Your Nuts And Bolts: Measuring Your Fasteners Before You Buy

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Nuts and bolts are a very common way to hold industrial parts and other metal, wood and plastic objects together. If the boss sends you out to the hardware store to get some fasteners, you may want to familiarize yourself with how these are made, the sizes in which they come, and how to match the correct fastener to what your boss needs. Here are a few pointers.

Nuts and Bolts Come in Both Standard and Metric Measurement Sizes

If you have never shopped for any sort of fastener before, you may not be aware that nuts, bolts, screws and sometimes even nails or brads come in both metric and standard units of measurement. What may look like a half-inch nut to you may actually be a 5/8" nut or a 30 mm nut. In these situations, size absolutely does mean everything because if you need a metric set of nuts and bolts and you buy inches, you will find that the inch versions are slightly too big for the job. Metric nuts and bolts tend to run a fraction of a size smaller than their standard-sized cousins.

Measure the Fasteners with a Ruler

A kid's school ruler often has both metric and standard units of measurement stamped on it. If you can locate this type of ruler (or a pull-out tape ruler with both types of measurement on it) at work, then you can quickly and easily decipher the size and what type of measurement the nuts and bolts use. Just make sure to measure the bolts by length and diameter, and the nuts across the widest part of their midsection.

Take the Nuts and Bolts with You to the Hardware Store

If you do not have a ruler that has both metric and standard units marked on it, then you cannot measure the fasteners your boss wants before you leave work. However, many hardware stores have measurement instruments and fastener match cards in the aisle. If your boss allows you to take the defunct fasteners with you to the store, you can use the "mm," "cm" and inch cards and match devices in the store to find exactly what you need.

Lastly, Decide If You Need a Certain Type of Metal

Fasteners are made from nickel, steel, copper, tungsten, brass and a few other metals. For industrial purposes, you may need any of the above, but the former fasteners should be a dead giveaway. Whatever the previous nuts and bolts were made of is what you should purchase to replace them because each type of metal has a specific purpose (e.g., copper conducts electricity, steel and tungsten hold up under extreme pressure, etc.).

If you need more help choosing the right nuts and bolts, ask an expert at a hardware store such as McFadden-Dale Industrial Hardware.