A very humble and random question

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Forum topic by Pthomas180 posted 04-02-2018 11:47 PM 1560 views 1 time favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 1250 days

04-02-2018 11:47 PM

Topic tags/keywords: shop woodworking hardware skills tool

I’m pretty new to woodworking and I am having a great time. I often find myself thinking of what I think to be a great idea for a jig or some project.

Here is my problem. My institutional knowledge with regard to things like nuts and bolts is limited to, well I know what a nut is and I know what a bolt is (maybe I should give myself a little more credit).

Anyway, I find myself spending way too much time figuring out the correct hardware for a project. Maybe I’ll build something then a month later I see something similar using more efficient hardware, etc.

I’m just looking for an online resource or book that breaks down very simply the myriad of different types of hardware out there and what it’s best used for. For example, there are tons of different hinges but I don’t know what applications they are best used for. Or I even walk into a hardware store and see a million different fasteners and bolts of all different kinds. No idea what their application is. And learning even basic stuff like this is something I need to do. What does a sex bolt do what is a flange bolt used for. It’s so basic I’m almost embarrassed to ask. But I would just like some resource, free or otherwise, that I can spend a few hours going through to advance my knowledge efficiently.

Does anything like this exist? Thanks so much.

23 replies so far

View TheTurtleCarpenter's profile


1053 posts in 2220 days

#1 posted 04-03-2018 12:01 AM

Go to a big box store and go down the hardware isles and you can hands on, touch and sight and things will become clearer. Grades, sizes ,thread types, nut types, Philips, slotted, square drive, metrics, imperial, most are all there. Ace hardware is a good place to hands on too.

-- "Tying shoelaces was way harder than learning to Whistle"

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1053 posts in 2220 days

#2 posted 04-03-2018 12:02 AM


-- "Tying shoelaces was way harder than learning to Whistle"

View TheFridge's profile


10863 posts in 2640 days

#3 posted 04-03-2018 12:03 AM

Those particular questions are good to ask on here. We might make fun of you before we answer but everyone here as a newb at one time :) by we I mean I.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Rich's profile (online now)


7067 posts in 1744 days

#4 posted 04-03-2018 12:07 AM

Taunton Press put out a series of “Complete Illustrated Guides” many years ago. One of them is Taunton’s Complete Illustrated Guide to Choosing & Installing Hardware. I have it in PDF format, and it’s pretty thorough. It’s out of print, but copies are still available pretty cheap. Here’s the Amazon link:

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View Dark_Lightning's profile (online now)


4716 posts in 4263 days

#5 posted 04-03-2018 12:09 AM

How old are you? It might be worth your time to go to a local Vo-Tech school and enroll in some shop classes, if offered. No need to be humble, everyone is at some level of expertise, and even people with a ton of experience make mistakes and/or don’t know everything. Turtle’s recommendation has a lot of merit, BTW.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View diverlloyd's profile


4145 posts in 3012 days

#6 posted 04-03-2018 12:13 AM

Start off here A flange bolt is a bolt with a built in washer and a sex bolt is a bolt with a barrel nut ( a male bolt and a female bolt hence the term sex since they get inserted into each other)where both ends would have some type of cap to look nice. Like head bolts for cars are flange bolts and the fasteners for handsaw handles are sex bolts. There are good videos on YouTube on hinges and fasteners for wood working just search it. A McMaster Carr catalog could also help
you visualize different types of stuff also.

View msinc's profile


567 posts in 1658 days

#7 posted 04-03-2018 12:14 AM

Suggest you get a McFeely’s catalog and check it out. You can of course go to their website and pretty much see all the same stuff too. They have a very good selection of some of the latest design and best hardware for wood working out there. No one is born automatically knowing this stuff and no one can simply guess and get it right. I have been at this for 40 years and still learn stuff every day. When I quit learning I will quit doing it. Learning new things keeps it interesting. As far as a book that describes or explains hardware and it’s use….I don’t know of any, but there is probably several out there that are worth checking out. Never think twice about asking on here, there are a lot of very knowledgeable folks that can help…..I am usually not one of them, but that’s what we do!!!!

View Richard Lee's profile

Richard Lee

406 posts in 1929 days

#8 posted 04-03-2018 01:35 AM

Ive been Machining for over 40 years and Woodworking for about the same. Im still amazed at the myriad of fasteners
and hardware available out there.
Your not alone I do the same buy what I think is right and tomorrow I see the appropriate one.
Dont sweat it,if it works use it and learn from experience.

Look at these sites and you will see a mind boggling amount of stuff.

View bbasiaga's profile


1259 posts in 3149 days

#9 posted 04-03-2018 02:22 AM

Hardware is like the world of insects. Not even the scientists know all the varieties that are out there.

Aside from books, magazines are great, and looking through people’s projects here. Just see what folks are using and it can tell you a lot.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View darthford's profile


750 posts in 3078 days

#10 posted 04-03-2018 03:08 AM

You need to spend time browsing McMaster-Carr’s web site its one of the internets greatest resources. Vast information is available not just for fasteners but all manner of materials and bits one might use building jigs.

Be sure to click on Product Detail because many have detailed CAD drawings showing precise dimensions, for example a screw’s length, diameter, head diameter, length from head shoulder to end, etc. Also the properties of various fastener metals, hardness, corrosion resistance. Accuracy, a common steel pin may have an accuracy of plus .003 to minus .003 or a high ground to accuracy of plus 0 minus .0002 and points in-between depending on what you need. Inside diameter and outside diameter of washers, thickness of washers.

Its not the end all though, I avoid McMastter-Carr when shopping for casters for example that’s not something they do well. There are retailers that specialize in casters. Tooling, drill bits, end mills, taps, etc. there are many other retailers especially when it comes to carbide. You could spend a LOT of time just on the topic of tooling its a vast category in itself. Single flute, three flute, 4, 5, 6 flute its maddening lol.

View Pthomas180's profile


10 posts in 1250 days

#11 posted 04-03-2018 03:24 AM

Thanks very much for all the replies. It is much appreciated. I hope others continue to chime in because I am eager to view more input on this topic.

View WoodES's profile


194 posts in 2845 days

#12 posted 04-03-2018 04:11 AM

Experience is the best teacher. While you can learn a lot by asking questions and reading books, keep making items and learning from what you did. Look for ways to improve, options that you hadn’t considered, see what others are doing.

The hardware catalogs are great to learn about what exists or what’s new. Order a Lee Valley hardware catalog, but don’t stop there….

View CaptainKlutz's profile


4656 posts in 2649 days

#13 posted 04-03-2018 10:02 AM

Lots of good suggestions.

+1 PDF by diverlloyd is great reference.

When it comes to selection hardware, and shopping alternatives; I really like the custom Hardware catalog published by Lee Valley.
In the dedicated catalog, Lee Valley does a good job of describing the hardware they sell, and shows examples that help you to see how it might be used.

One thing that gets missed when discussing hardware:
There are usually several acceptable hardware choices for any wood project. Often there are only 1-2 simple, elegant, and never fail choices. Links above point to sources for finding these choices.
Regardless, do not worry about best screw length, thread pitch, or head type, nor let it get in your way when building stuff. Just build it, and if it doesn’t work; replace it with something that works better later.

Best Luck.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, Doom, despair, agony on me… - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View moke's profile


1837 posts in 3931 days

#14 posted 04-03-2018 05:03 PM

Wow, some great ideas!!! Pthomas this is why lumberjocks is so great….

I ordered the book from amazon and downloaded the pdf, and I have Kevin…this awesome older fellow that works at the local Ace hardware, that has been around hardware his whole life…..but now I can look it up and ask for what I need by the proper name instead of: “well its this thing that…..”

Thanks all….

-- Mike

View olegrump's profile


97 posts in 1377 days

#15 posted 04-06-2018 12:18 PM

I second the motion to take a trip to one of the “Big Box Hardware” stores. When you finally get to the aisles which actually HAVE hardware, past all the “home décor” and other crap, take a look around you. Don’t look at the hardware at first. Look at the number of guys standing there, either scratching their heads or rubbing their chins, while looking “Like a deer in headlights”......... You are almost GUARANTEED to feel better about your level of knowledge about hardware and fasteners. BTW, most of these places have gizmos which allow you to check the size and type of threads on your nuts and bolts. Both SAE and (Horrors!) “metric”. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to use them. I feely admit I do whenever I’m not quite sure about something I’m trying to match. (And a wife will always be whining why you took so long in the hardware store, but you get used to that….)
Also, LOVE the comment equating hardware to insects. That is one of the truest statements I’ve EVER heard.

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