You will need dozens of different types and sizes of fasteners. Here is information on those you will find most useful. BUYING FASTENERS Whenever you buy fasteners (nails, screws, bolts, washers, etc.) always try to buy zinc-plated (sometimes called galvanized) fasteners. The plated fasteners resist rusting and the cost difference is negligible. The exceptions are the drywall screws which come only with a black finish. But you can buy deck screws for outdoor use. Deck screws are similar to drywall screws but they do have a plated finish. BOLTS For any given diameter of bolt, there are coarse threads and fine (sometimes called SAE) threads. Examples would be 1/4–20 bolts which have a diameter of 1/4 inch and have 20 threads per inch, these are the coarse threads, and 1/4–28 bolts which have 28 threads per inch, these are the fine threads. For bolts that are 1/4-inch in diameter or larger, the coarse threads are best for most purposes. The fine threads are used on cars because they are more resistant to coming loose from vibration. The bolts I would suggest having on hand are: 104
1/4–20 Bolts I keep both roundhead and flathead bolts on hand in several lengths from 3/4 inch to 3 inches. 5/16–18 Bolts I have flathead bolts in several lengths from 1 inch to 3 inches. SMALL BOLTS (MACHINE SCREWS) Small bolts are usually called machine screws. They come in various diameters, various lengths, and various head styles. The smaller diameters are referred to in numbers rather than fractions of an inch. A 10–24 machine screw has a diameter of 3/16 inch and has 24 threads per inch, and an 8–32 machine screw has a diameter of approximately 5/32 inch and has 32 threads per inch. You should practice looking at various machine screws and bolts until you can tell, just by looking, the diameter and the number of threads per inch. Below is a list of the machine screws I would want to have on hand at all times. 4–40 x 1/2-Inch Binder Head Machine Screws These machine screws are used for repair of small items. 6–32 Machine Screws I have both roundhead and flathead screws in several lengths from 3/8 inch to 2 inches. 8–32 Machine Screws Both roundhead and flathead screws in this size and in several lengths from 3/8 inch to 2 inches come in handy. 10–24 Machine Screws I keep both roundhead and flathead 10–24 screws in several lengths from 3/4 inch to 2 inches. 10–32 Machine Screws I like to have both roundhead and flathead 10–32 screws in several lengths from 3/4 inch to 2 inches. CARRIAGE BOLTS A carriage bolt has a large rounded head and a short square section of the shank just below the head. The square section fits tightly in a hole and stops the bolt from turning when the nut is tightened. Carriage bolts are useful when you are working on outdoor wooden structures such as decks, stairs, furniture, or play equipment. The following sizes of carriage bolts will prove useful.
1/4-Inch-Diameter Carriage Bolts I like to have 1/4-inch bolts that are 2 inches, 3 inches, and 4 inches long. 5/16-Inch-Diameter Carriage Bolts I also have 5/16-inch bolts that are 2 inches, 3 inches, and 4 inches long. 3/8-Inch-Diameter Carriage Bolts This size carriage bolt 3 inches and 4 inches long is sufficient. METRIC BOLTS Bolts with metric threads are becoming more widely used in the United States, so from time to time you may need some of them. The sizes of metric bolts are designated in millimeters of diameter. They are used on some cars and on some foreign-made items such as bicycles, toys, and appliances. If you have to match a thread on something you are fixing, and none of your fasteners seem to fit, although some of them almost fit, chances are you need a metric nut or bolt. Metric nuts and bolts are often more readily available in auto supply stores than at your local hardware store. NUTS For all of the machine screws and bolts listed here, you should also have nuts. Hex nuts are preferable because it is easier to turn them with socket wrenches, but square nuts are all right. WASHERS For all of the above bolts and machine screws, you should have flat washers of two sizes. One size washer should be the standard size that is intended for that diameter of bolt. The other size washer should have the same size hole in the center but should be about twice the diameter of the standard washer. These large-diameter washers are sometimes called fender washers. You will find them to be very useful, especially when you are bolting together pieces of wood or pieces of sheet metal. NAILS You should have a wide assortment of nails. Buy plated nails. I suggest the following: Aluminum Nails I like to have 1-inch and 2-inch aluminum nails on hand.
These are nails with a very small head. Buy several sizes from 3
/4 inch to 3 inches. (Small finish nails are sometimes called brads.
) Head Nails
You will need several sizes from 3
/4 inch to 31
/2 inches. (Small head nails are sometimes called wire nails.
) Roofing Nails
These are made of galvanized steel and I like to have these in 1-inch and 11
/2-inch lengths. RIVETS
A rivet is like a short bolt with no threads. You put it through matching holes in pieces to be joined, then you hammer the end of the rivet with a ball peen hammer until it spreads out and holds the two pieces together. You can improvise rivets, on the rare occasions when you need them, by cutting a steel or aluminum nail or bolt to the proper length. POP RIVETS
Pop rivets are very convenient. Their big advantage is that they can be used in situations where you only have access to one side of the hole that the rivet goes into. This is sometimes called “blind riveting.” Another advantage is that they take only a few seconds to install. Pop rivets are useful when you are repairing automobile bodies and when you are working on gutters and downspouts. It is worth having a pop-riveting tool and an assortment of rivets to go with it. The pop rivets come in steel and aluminum. The steel rivets are stronger, but the aluminum rivets don’t rust. The rivets come in various diameters and in various grip lengths. The grip length refers to the combined thickness of the two objects you are fastening together. If you are riveting together something 1
/16 inch thick and something 1
/8 inch thick, you want to use rivets that have a grip length of 3
/16 inch. SCREWS
Listed alphabetically below are the most frequently needed screws. Deck Screws
Deck screws are similar to drywall screws, but they are zinc plated (galvanized) and are intended for outdoor use. I like to have 11
/2-inch, 2-inch, 21
/2-inch, and 3-inch deck screws. Drywall Screws
I like to have a complete inventory of drywall screws; all lengths from 3
/4 inch to 4 inches. The 3
/4-inch drywall screws are
sometimes hard to find; you can use 3/4-inch flathead sheet metal screws instead. The 4-inch drywall screws are hard to find and rarely needed, but it is well to have them on hand for those few special cases. Drywall screws are made with fine threads and coarse threads. I prefer the coarse threads; it takes less time to install or remove them and they are less likely to cause the wood to split.
If you must use drywall screws on outdoor construction, it is a good idea to put a dab of oil-base paint on each screw head. If you don’t do this, within a year or two you will see an unsightly rust spot at each screw head.
Lag Screws Lag screws, sometimes called lag bolts, are like thick wood screws, but they have a square or hex head and you use a wrench to turn them instead of a screwdriver. They are often used on outdoor construction projects. I like to have several lag screws in 2-inch, 3-inch, and 4-inch lengths.
Sheet Metal Screws Sheet metal screws are similar to wood screws except that the threads go all the way up to the head of the screw instead of having a smooth shank as on the wood screws. I find the sheet metal screws to be more versatile than the wood screws. I recommend having several sizes of sheet metal screws, both flathead and binder head, in lengths up to 2 inches. A binder-head screw is somewhat like a roundhead screw but it is wider and flatter. I always buy Phillips-head screws whenever possible. They can be installed and removed more quickly than the slotted-head screws.
Wood Screws I rarely need round-head wood screws, especially when I have the binder-head sheet metal screws available in the smaller sizes. I do like to have on hand flathead wood screws in 2-inch, 21/2-inch, 3-inch, 31/2 inch, and 4-inch lengths. Again, buy the Phillips-head screws.
Be sure to have some #6 X 13/4-inch flathead screws; they are used to attach wall standards to the wall; the standards hold the shelf brackets which hold the shelves. You should also have some tiny flathead or ovalhead screws (#4 X 3/8-inch, and #4 X 1/2-inch). These tiny screws are used in the hinges on some kitchen cabinets.
For most work on a boat and for most outdoor jobs at the seashore, it is best to use brass, bronze, or stainless steel screws, bolts, etc.