Difference Between Nuts and Bolts

Whether you are in the construction business, architecture, or any other similar field, you will surely know the proper difference between nuts and bolts.

Even, if you are just working with basic hardware to build a small cabinet for your home, knowing the difference between nuts and bolts is important. Stuff like nuts, bolts, and screws are things that a person hears so regularly, but often does not care to know the difference between these items, and then this leads to confusion in times when these are terms are used for official reasons.

Nuts vs Bolts

The difference between nuts and bolts is that nuts are small metallic objects which have a threaded hole cut out in its middle and bolts are metallic objects which have a stem that is threaded (either fully or partially) and a head which helps maintain the fasten.

Nuts vs Bolts

Nuts are usually, small metallic objects which have a hole in the middle portion of it. In its inner parts, this hole has a spiral cut groove which is known as the thread of the nut.

On the other hand, a bolt has a long stem (usually a long cylindrical part) and a head, which is there to ensure and hold the fastening when a bolt is fastened onto an object. The stem of the bolt is threaded in nature, however, there are many stems that are not completely threaded, and only a small bottom portion of it is threaded.

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonNutsBolts
DefinitionSmall metallic object with a threaded hole.Has a threaded cylindrical stem with a head.
UseUsed as a fastener in conjugation with a bolt.Is used to fasten stuff in conjugation with a nut.
Materials used to makeUsually, carbon steel coated with zincUsually, high-grade steel with large percentages of nickel and chrome. 
VarietyT-nut, Kep nut, Castle nut, Wing nut.Toggle bolt, U-bolt, J-bolt, Lag bolt.
Forces involvedExperiences compressive forces.Experiences tensile forces.

What are Nuts?

A nut is a small metallic object that has a hole in the middle of it which has a grooved hole in it. These grooved holes are known as threads.

Nuts are used as fastening tools. It is important to note that even though nuts are used as fastening tools, they can not be used without bolts.

To understand this, we need to understand the shape of a nut. The outer portion of its body can be shaped in any way, but it is mostly shaped in a hexagonal, cap, or circular shape. 

The inside is always circular in shape, this is because this is the place where the stem of the bolt fits, and the stem of the bolt is always maintained to be cylindrical in shape so that it can easily rotate and fit in the threads. The most common type of nut found today is the hexagonal nut.

The main reason behind this is that it offers more granularity, i.e. grip to the tool which might be used to remove the nut. Also, if there are too many sides, then it means more wear and tear and thus, six sides provide optimal solutions to both these problems.

There are various types of nuts, based on the purpose they are used for, they vary from household standard nuts to nuts that are used specifically for industrial requirements. The most common types of nuts are caged nut, barrel nut, acorn nut, coupling nut, etc.


What are Bolts?

Bolts are metallic objects that have a cylindrical stem which has groove like cuts that are similar to the grooves present on the inside of a nut. Other than this threaded stem, there also exists a head, which helps to hold the fasten together.

As explained in the above paragraph, a bolt goes into the circular threaded hole of a nut, where the grooves of the bolt fit perfectly with the grooves of the nut. Then, by rotational motion, the bolt nut is able to move further up the bolt. 

Some bolts have this threaded nature all along its stem, some only have an end portion of its stem threaded. There is no clear distinction between bolts and nuts and one could easily get confused between those two, but by standard, bolts are not passed through a threaded area and are fastened with the help of a bolt, however, used for components which are already threaded.

The head of a bolt also has a variety of shapes and needs to follow the same rules as we discussed in the above paragraph. The most common shape for bolt heads is the hexagonal bolt head because this shape provides the most granularity for tools that are used in the case of extraction. 

The common major types of bolts are elevator bolts, anchor bolts, arbor bolts, J bolts, lag bolts, etc.


Main Differences Between Nuts and Bolts

  1. The main difference between nuts and bolts is that nuts are small metallic objects that have a threaded hole in the middle for a bolt to go in and bolts have a threaded stem that goes in the bolt.
  2. Nuts are usually made using carbon steel coated with zinc. Bolts are usually made with high-quality steel with large amounts of nickel and chrome.
  3. A nut experiences compressive forces, whereas a bolt experiences tensile forces.
  4. A nut might fail to work due to excessive compressive stress, while a bolt fails to work due to excessive tensile stresses.
  5. Nuts do not have heads, while a bolt has a head which facilitates fastening.
Difference Between Nuts and Bolts


  1. https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/66932
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867405006422
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