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5 Stainless Steel Facts You Need To Know Before Buying Fasteners

5 Stainless Steel Facts About Fasteners You Should Know

Stainless steel fastener

Stainless steel is a highly used metal and prized for its corrosion resistance. Did you know that stainless steel actually can corrode? It’s not even that hard to make it happen. Before you buy your fasteners here are five stainless steel facts you need to know before buying fasteners.

1. Stainless Steel Is A Soft Metal (Sort Of)

Stainless steel is considered a soft metal meaning it is not great for many high load applications that require intense strength. However, certain grades are hardened to create a stronger version. It may effect the corrosion resistance of the fastener however. A classic example of this is Grade 410 Stainless Steel.

2. Stainless Steel Can Still Corrode

Stainless steel is prized for its corrosion resistance. Beyond that many don’t know anything about it. Stainless steel comes in many different grades, 304, 305 and 316 are just a few examples and each come with their own benefits. If you are within 20 miles of the beach for example, you need to make sure you use 316 stainless steel.

3. Stainless Steel Is Not Non-Magnetic

It is important to know that stainless steel is not fully non-magnetic. In situations where the non-magnetic quality of a material is critical, stainless steel is not a recommended choice.

4. Stainless Steel Has An Invisible Self Repairing Outer Layer

Stainless metals form an invisible oxide coating that protects it from external factors. This is the main reason stainless steel is so resistant to corrosion. As long as the material is in an oxygen rich environment, even if the metal is damaged removing the oxide layer, it will reform and protect the metal again.

5. Stainless Steel Reacts Negatively With Aluminum

Stainless Steel and Aluminum are two separate kinds of metal. One is positively charged (anode) and one is negatively charged (cathode). As these metals are connected and an electrolyte is introduced, such as saltwater, a transfer of electrons occurs which will ruin the integrity of the materials resulting in galvanic corrosion. To avoid these situations either use some sort of in-between like a rubber material or simply do not use them together (recommended).

Working With Stainless Steel

Ultimately stainless steel can be a bit more complicated than you thought. Stainless steel fasteners are still an excellent choice for many situations. Just take these 5 things into consideration when buying your fasteners to help you choose the appropriate material and grade.

When To Use Fasteners Over Welds

Welds Or Fasteners?

A confusing subject to say the least. Welding is a common practice that creates a physical and (what is considered to be) permanent connection. Fasteners (for our discussion bolts) create a joint which is considered to be a temporary connection.

But, which is better? Is there a definitive answer to this question? The answer is: It depends. There are always situations in which welds or fasteners will end up on top. The harder part is trying to determine when to use one or the other. Today we are going to look at why you might think twice before starting a weld.

Why Welds Are Great (And Why They Are Not)

Welding is an excellent way to make a permanent joint between two materials. It is one of those set it and forget it types of connections, but what happens over time as that weld is put under stress? How do you know if the joint is still as strong as on day one?

The answer is welds are often harder to check and maintain than fasteners. Some of the special equipment required for weld testing costs excessive amounts of money. Welds require some intensive tests such as x-rays to check integrity throughout the weld. Welds are also considerably harder to remove and replace than fasteners. They can also be inconsistent in strength along a joint.

What May Make Fasteners A Better Decision

Fasteners are used for creating temporary joints. Fasteners, installed at equal distances, will provide the same strength at each joint without significant change. This makes them a better choice for weight distribution. They are also simple to check for corrosion or other weakening factors.

By far the best part about using a fastener over a weld is that if a fastener is bad, it is simple to remove it and replace it with a new one. They can also be adjusted over time to compensate for changes in the materials such as swelling or shrinking with minimal effort.

Welds and Fasteners

It really comes down to the application to truly determine if a weld or fastener is right for you. Ultimately, we think the majority of situations that can use both should use fasteners because it just makes maintenance easier.

How To Install A Threaded Insert Into Wood Without The Insert Tool!

Installing A Threaded Insert Into Wood Without The Insert ToolHow To Install A Threaded Insert Into Wood Without The Insert Tool!

Threaded inserts are great fasteners that dramatically extend the life of a hole by creating a metal threading point instead of using wood repeatedly. By using metal inserts, the bolt can be installed and removed multiple times without diminishing the hold strength of the hole. The downside of threaded inserts is that they usually require some type of vendor specific bit or driver to install them properly.

We, for example, carry the E-Z LOK Threaded Insert Install Tool. This tool works great for installing these inserts but what happens if you get to a job site and you’ve forgotten the bit that makes working with these inserts so easy at home? The answer is simple, use a tap bolt to create a different drive point for the insert!

Step 1: Drill The Hole

Tap Bolt and Threaded Insert Ready for Installation

Of course, the first step is to drill the right sized hole (if there isn’t one already). The trick to using these in wood is to drill a larger countersunk section that the insert will fit into and then a smaller hole the rest of the way through the material.

Step 2: Screw The Tap Bolt Into The Insert

Tap bolts have an externally driven hexagonal head. This head will sit wider that the threaded inserts head. Before installing the insert, you need something to drive it with. We use a hex tap bolts head as a drive to drive the threaded insert down into the wood.

Step 3: Get The Insert Started

Using a Socket Wrench to Install the Threaded Insert

It is easy to install the threaded insert from this point on. Simply take the assembly and begin hand threading it into the hole with the hex head facing away from the hole. The insert really only needs to begin gripping the wood before stopping and proceeding to step 4.

Step 4: Use A Socket And Ratchet To Quickly Install The Insert

At this point all you need to do is find the appropriate socket for the tap bolt head you are going to drive. Once found, attach it to the ratcheting handle and begin tightening. You will not have to use any down-force for this as the threading should grab on its own and pull itself into the wood. Continue tightening until the insert sits flush or just below the surface and the bottom of the head of the hex tap bolt is sitting flush with the surface of the wood.

Tap Bolt Sitting Flush With Wood Surface

Now that you have installed your threaded insert, switch the ratchet to loosen and break the bolt loose from the insert. You can now remove the bolt and place a different one in if you need or just leave the tap bolt installed if that is what needs to be there.

Installed Threaded Insert Without The Tool

What Screws Should You Use For Building A Deck?

Building A Deck This Summer?Deck Screws For Building a Deck

Having a deck in your home is a luxury many people enjoy having. Being able to sit outside and enjoy the weather or view with family and friends is an excellent way to spend nice days, especially with summer right around the corner.

If you decide to take the journey of building a deck yourself, you are going to have many questions along the way. One of the most important points to consider is “Which screws should I use for this deck?”. We’ve heard this question before and there are quite a few things to take into consideration.

1. What Material Should I Use?

Of all the available materials to use for your deck, the most common is stainless steel. Stainless steel deck screws offer an excellent solution due to their increased corrosion resistance. However, stainless steel can still corrode in certain situations so make sure you have the correct grade for your environment.

2. Do You Want To See The Screw Heads?

One of the biggest concerns when making your deck is choosing the correct screw head. Deck screws are usually only found in flat head varieties so they can sit flush with the wood once installed. The question remains, do you want to see the head?

If your answer is yes, then a standard stainless steel flat head deck screw will suffice. If your answer is no, then you have a few options for hiding the screw heads.

  • Painted Head Deck Screws – These stainless steel screws are stainless steel with painted heads to match common wood colors. They are the easiest way to hide a deck screw because they are camouflaged in plain sight. Just install them as you would any other deck screw.
  • Hardwood Plug Kits – These kits come with little wood corks that you can use to cover the screws. They require more work to install properly but usually leave a great result. First a countersunk hole must be made to sink the screws lower into the wood. Then an adhesive is applied to the plug and placed in the hole over the screw head. One downfall to this method is that removing them is difficult. You can also get a drill bit that can cut these plugs for you instead of buying a kit: Hardwood Plug Cutter Bit.
  • Ipe Clips – A third and quickly becoming a very popular option are Ipe Clips. Ipe Clips are installed between the boards of a deck hiding the screws entirely. Mostly used with Ipe wood, these clips can also be used with regular wood to help create an evenly spaced deck.

3. What Kind Of Drive Style Should I Use?

Usually, there are three types of drive to consider here. Phillips, Square or Star drive. Although all three are decent choices, we recommend using the star drive for installations. The star drive has the least chance of slippage and cam out during installation making it the ideal choice when working with finished products where slipping out of the drive could damage the surface you are working on. In fact, on many decks built today you are more likely to see star drive screws being used.

Building a deck can be a daunting task but with the proper screws you are now one step closer to enjoying your yard and the weather this year.

Top 5 Mistakes To Avoid With Fasteners

Top 5 Mistakes To Avoid With Fasteners

The world of fasteners is incredibly large. To understand everything about them it would take years of study and learning the complexities that come with them. Each fastener has been engineered for a specific use but can be used for many other things as well. There is no way to go over everything you can and cannot do with fasteners but we can help you make sure you don’t make some of the major mistakes that should be avoided.

1. Choosing the Wrong Material and Grade

It is the first thing you should consider when buying fasteners. “What material do I need?” There are many materials available and each one has their own properties that make them worth using or ignoring depending on the application. This is not enough however, it must be taken one step further as each material has a different chemical make-up. These unique make-ups are known as material grades. Each Grade also has it’s own properties that make it more or less suited for certain environments.

Ex:

Stainless Steel – Corrosion Resistant

Grade 316 Stainless Steel – Corrosion Resistant Even In Extreme Saltwater Environments

For more information on materials and grades check out our Fasteners 101 Resource on Materials, Grades and Strengths for specific materials and grades and their uses.

2. Using Reactive Materials Together

It is not common knowledge that metals put together can actually weaken their integrity. Take Aluminum and Stainless Steel for example, when they are together and an electrolyte is introduced (such as salt water) electrons transfer creating an unstable balance. This weakens the materials and leaves them susceptible to corrosion. This process is known as galvanic corrosion and should be avoided to extend fastener lifespans.

3. Not Using Appropriate Locking Fasteners

Locking fasteners are an excellent addition to any fastener assembly but there are some situations that absolutely call for them. Any assembly that is subject to harsh or constant vibrations should have some form of locking fastener. For the best results we recommend Nylon Insert Lock Nuts. These nuts have a nylon strip inserted around the top of the nut. As the nut is tightened onto the bolt, the threads cut into the nylon adding extra friction to the assembly.

4. Mixing Threading or Imperial and Metric

Not all fasteners were created equal. One of the most common mistakes is trying to fasten wrong types of fasteners together. Every kind of fastener should easily thread by hand. If you find that the fastener is not seating properly, check the fasteners. There are many fastener measuring tools available for easily checking threading and fastener sizes. Always check what size you need before trying to force the connection.

If you aren’t sure what type of threading you need, check out our Fine Vs Coarse Threading blog post explaining the benefits of each.

5. Wrong Sized Drivers

A Driver is designed to fully fit the driver recess of the fastener. There are different sizes of all types of drivers such as the Phillips 1 or Phillips 2. Always make sure to use the correct driver as a loose driver will drastically increase the change of stripping and cam out.

Also, for sockets and wrenches, make sure the correct drive is being used. Many people attempt to use a metric socket on an imperial hex head because it is a close match. Do Not Do This. The recess is not a close enough match and will put most of the force on the points of the hex head. Too much torque and those points will deform resulting in a stripped hex head.

Pro Tip:Increase Fastener Life with ThreadLocker, Drill Bit Lubricant and Anti-seize Solution

Use Supplementary Supplies

Supplementary supplies, such as threadlocker, are not products to ignore. They have real tried and tested benefits.

  • Threadlocker solution should be added to assemblies facing vibrations as well as lock washers to deter accidental loosening.
  • Anti-seize lubrication should be added to assemblies (especially stainless steel) to increase ease of installation and prevent galling.
  • Drill Bit Lubricant should be used to maximize the life of a drill bit.

These supplementary supplies are designed specifically for applications and when used properly can make a little extra effort go a very long way. Now you know what the Top 5 Mistakes To Avoid With Fasteners are and how to avoid them.

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