Fasteners and Fastening Tools
Fastening tools are simply tools that help you apply fasteners, such as nails, screws, bolts, and other specialty hardware. Ask a staff member for help choosing what hardware is most appropriate for your project.
A hammer is a tool consisting of a weighted "head" fixed to a long handle that is swung to deliver an impact to a small area of an object. This can be, for example, to drive nails into wood, to shape metal (as with a forge), or to crush rock. Hammers are used for a wide range of driving, shaping, and breaking applications.
A mallet is a kind of hammer with a relatively large head. Mallet heads may be of softer material, like rubber, for use in striking applications that require a softer more blunt impact.
A screwdriver is a tool, manual or powered, used for screwing (installing) and unscrewing (removing) screws. A typical simple screwdriver has a handle and a shaft, ending in a tip the user puts into the screw head before turning the handle. Typical screw driver tips include:
- Flat head
- Torx (star)
A wrench or spanner is a tool used to provide grip and mechanical advantage in applying torque to turn objects—usually rotary fasteners, such as nuts and bolts—or keep them from turning. The most common shapes are called open-end wrench and box-end wrench.
Ratchet / Socket Sets
A ratchet is a type of wrench that inserts into a socket to turn a fastener, typically in the form of a nut or bolt. A ratchet incorporates a reversible ratcheting mechanism which allows the user to pivot the tool back and forth to turn its socket instead of removing and repositioning a wrench to do so.
Hex (Allen) keys
A hex key, Allen wrench or Allen key, is a simple tool used to drive bolts and screws with hexagonal sockets in their heads. The tool is usually formed of a single piece of hexagonal rod of hard steel, with blunt ends that are meant to fit snugly into the screw's socket, bent in an "L" shape with unequal arms. The tool is usually held and twisted by the long arm, creating a large torque at the tip of the short arm. Reversing the tool lets the long arm reach screws in hard-to-reach places.
Fasteners, AKA Hardware!
Ask an Idea Shop staff member for help with choosing the appropriate hardware for your project needs. We have a limited selection of hardware available for purchase. Below, we cover some of the most commonly used types of fasteners.
Generally, nails have a sharp point on one end and a flattened head on the other, but headless nails are available. Nails are applied by striking the flattened head to drive the body into any given piece of material.
Brads are small, thin, tapered, nails with a lip or projection to one side rather than a full head, and are typically applied using a brad nailer. For wood projects, brad nails are best used in conjunction with wood glue for a more permanent bond.
A screw is a type of fastener characterized by a helical ridge, known as a male thread (external thread). Screws are used to fasten materials by digging in and wedging into a material when turned, while the thread cuts grooves in the fastened material that may help pull fastened materials together and prevent pull-out. There are many screws for a variety of materials; those commonly fastened by screws include wood, sheet metal, and plastic.
Screws are manufactured with variety of different heads to suit different needs. Some common heads are as follows:
- Pan - A raised disc with large surface area, and rounded edges.
- Button or dome head - Hemispherical, has a rounded top
- Flat (countersunk) head - Conical, with flat outer face and tapering inner face allowing it to sink into the material. The angle of the screw is measured as the full angle of the cone. Countersunk heads will sit flush with material when used in conjunction with a countersink bit.
- Bugle head - Similar to countersunk, but there is a smooth progression from the shank to the angle of the head, similar to the bell of a bugle. Many drywall screws are bugle head screws.
A bolt is a form of threaded fastener with an external male thread. Bolts are very closely related to screws. The distinction between a bolt and a screw is commonly misunderstood. There are several practical differences, but most have some degree of overlap between bolts and screws. Bolts are for the assembly of two unthreaded components, with the aid of a nut. Screws in contrast are used in components which contain their own thread, and the screw may even cut its own internal thread into them. Many threaded fasteners can be described as either screws or bolts, depending on how they are used.
A screw drive is a system used to turn a screw. Most heads come in a range of sizes, typically distinguished by a number, such as "Phillips #00". These sizes do not necessarily describe a particular dimension of the drive shape, but rather are arbitrary designations. Common drive shapes are:
- Phillips (cross shape)
- Torx (star shape)
- Robertson (Square shape)
- Hex socket (Allen)