Bolt threads are a vital part of fastener design. They provide a simple connection between two pieces of hardware, allow for fine adjustment in designs, and help create more efficient and reliable joints. Knowing how to measure bolt threads per inch can be a valuable tool for any engineer. Bolt threads are commonly described as diameter, number of threads per inch (thread pitch), and length in inches. The first two measurements are used to identify the bolt size, while the latter is often a factor in fastener placement and sizing. While there are a variety of ways to determine thread size, the most accurate method is with a dedicated thread gauge. These tools are available at most home improvement and hardware stores, as well as some online retailers. There are also printable thread gauges that can be used to approximate a thread gauge in the event a dedicated one is unavailable.
There are several different thread types, and bolts can be manufactured in either coarse or fine thread. Each type of thread has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and the choice depends on the application. Coarse threads are a good choice for general use because they’re easy to manufacture and durable, while finer threads offer more precision and higher tensile strength. In the United States, there are two common thread types: UNC and UNF. UNC threads are more durable, while UNF threads have better gripping ability.
Threads are produced by removing small amounts of material from the surface of the bolt. This is usually done by cutting, milling, or tapping. Threads are then rolled into shape, a process known as thread rolling. Once the threads are in place they’re usually smoothed and finished using a lathe or grinding wheel.
In the early 19th century, industrialization and advances in machining lead to mass-production of bolts with varying thread sizes and pitches. These incompatible threads caused problems with interoperability between American, Canadian, and British equipment during World War II. This led to the establishment of the Unified Thread Standard (UTS) in 1949, which outlined the thread criterion and specified the inch-based measurement system. Although it has since been superseded by ISO metric thread standards, UTS is still widely used in the US, Canada, and the UK.
It’s important to distinguish between the thread diameter and the thread pitch when determining the size of a bolt or screw. The diameter is the outermost portion of the bolt, and it can be measured by holding the bolt parallel to a ruler. The thread pitch is the distance between one thread crest and the next, and it’s best measured by laying an existing bolt with the same threads over the unknown bolt. Then, you can simply count the number of threads between the crests and multiply to find the bolt’s threads per inch.
It’s also possible to calculate a bolt’s threads per inch using a calculator or spreadsheet. The formula is essentially the same as for the major diameter of a screw or bolt: Divide the total number of threads by the number of inches per revolution to get the threads per inch. bolt threads per inch