Difference Between Nuts and Bolts

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


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Even if you are 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 regularly but often does not care to know the difference between these items, which leads to confusion when these terms are used for official reasons.

Key Takeaways

  1. Nuts and bolts are hardware fasteners used to join two or more objects; nuts are typically threaded onto a bolt to secure it.
  2. Bolts have a cylindrical shape with a threaded shaft and a flat head, while nuts have a hexagonal or square shape with a threaded hole in the center.
  3. Nuts and bolts come in various sizes and materials, including steel, brass, and titanium, and can be used in various applications, such as construction, automotive, and machinery.

Nuts vs. Bolts

A nut is a metallic object used with a bolt. The hexagonal nut is the mostly used nut because of its strong grip. Different types of nuts can be used for different purposes. A bolt contains a long cylindrical stem. Bolts are made of high-quality steel, in which a large quantity of nickel and chrome is added.

Nuts vs Bolts

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Nuts are usually small metallic objects with a hole in the middle portion. In its inner parts, this hole has a spiral-cut groove 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, many stems 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 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 because this is where the stem of the bolt fits, and the stem of the bolt is always maintained to be cylindrical 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, it means more wear and tear; thus, six sides provide optimal solutions to both of 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, barrel, acorn, coupling, etc.


What are Bolts?

Bolts are metallic objects with cylindrical stems with groove-like cuts similar to the grooves inside a nut. Other than this threaded stem, a head also exists, 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 nut’s grooves. Then, the bolt nut can move further up the bolt by rotational motion. 

Some bolts have this threaded nature all along their stem; some only have an end portion 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, they are used for already threaded components.

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 hexagonal bolt head is the most common shape for bolt heads because this shape provides the most granularity for tools that are used in the case of extraction. 

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


Main Differences Between Nuts and Bolts

  1. The main difference between nuts and bolts is that nuts are small metallic objects with 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 due to excessive tensile stresses.
  5. Nuts do not have heads, while a bolt has a head that 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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