If you have ever fixed anything, you have probably used […]
If you have ever fixed anything, you have probably used flat washer and bolts. They tighten and secure just about everything, from wood beams to alternators. Washers and bolts appear to be simple, but people often misuse them. To get the most out of washers and bolts, and to make every bolt connection more secure, it is wise to learn how to use them correctly. Every washer and bolt has its own function so you should use them exactly.
The standard washer is a flat disk of metal with a hole punched in the middle. The user should make sure that the washer chosen has a center hole as snug as possible to the screw being used. You should choose a suitable washer to fit the screw.
Washers don't have to be round -- square and triangular ones are also common, and irregularly-shaped ones can serve special purposes. The hole in the center of a washer is usually round, but it can also be oval, which allows the washer to be offset from the fastener head. This is helpful in tight spaces. Although most washers are flat, some are tapered to help seal the opening through which the fastener extends, and still other washers have an ogee shape that turns the screws into decorative features.
Size the bolt to the mounting hole. Check the proper size of the mounting hole through the manufacturer's documentation, then find the right bolt sized to that hole. You need to try different size bolts until find a suitable one for the hole when the holes does not specify a diameter.
Size the washer to the bolt. The washer fits around the shaft of the bolt, and slides all the way up to the bolt head. No friction should exist between the washer and bolt.
Insert the bolt into the washer first, then slide the bolt and washer into the mounting hole. Once the bolt is threaded into the hole, begin turning the head of the bolt using the appropriate sized wrench. Tighten the bolt down to the washer until the head contacts the washer.
You should check the bolt to make sure the threads are sound and not dinged. And you should keep the threads clean if necessary. Wipe off any dirt or grime. Spray the bolt with a lubricant to make it easier to install and tighten. Thread the bolt into the hole with your fingers. You don't want to start tightening the bolt with a tool, such as a wrench or socket and ratchet, until you are certain that the bolt threads correctly. Cross-threading the bolt prevents a secure hold and ruins its threads. Attach a socket of the correct size to the bolt head with a ratchet or use an open-end wrench to tighten it in place. Most bolts, with the exception of left bike pedals, tighten in a clockwise or right-hand direction. Just remember the old saying "righty tighty, lefty loosey," as this applies to the vast majority of bolts or screws that require tightening. If the bolt tightens counterclockwise, no amount of turning it to the right will begin threading it. Snug the bolt firmly in place but do not over-tighten it. Lag bolts don't call for the use of a nut, as the bolt's threads keep it in place.