jump to example.com

A mechanical engineer posted this fascinating (tiny) intro to the (vast) world of fasteners and what make them tick in answer to the Quora question “What is something useful about engineering you can teach in 10 minutes and make me feel astonished and fascinated?” It doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about fasteners, but it definitely gives you a peek into how deep the science behind them can dive — and why you should think twice before assuming “bigger is better” or “tighter is better.”

My father was a machinist, which made for some interesting interactions when I was a kid. For example, one time I came up to him and asked him to make a little “plastic” riser for a DIY project I was messing with. Essentially, the riser needed to elevate a mounting bracket about an inch and not look like crap. The conversation went something like this:

Dad: “What do you want it made of?”
Me: “Plastic.”
Dad: “What kind of plastic?”
Me: “I don’t care.”
Dad: “What about nylon?”
Me: “Is it soft?”
Dad: “Compared to what?”
Me: “Plastic.”
Dad: “What kind of plastic?”
Me: “I don’t know, the plastic that car consoles are made from.”
Dad: “Yes.”
Me: “Is it really soft?”
Dad: “Compared to what?”
Me: “Ok, is it SQUISHY? Like can you squish it with your fingers?”
Dad: “No.”
Me: “FINE.”

About 10 minutes go by.

Dad: “Is Delrin ok?”
Me: “What’s the difference?”
Dad: “In terms of what?”
Me: “Sure. It’s fine. Whatever.”

Another 10 minutes go by.

Dad: “Do you want the corners rounded?”
Me: “Sure.”
Dad: “What radius?”
Me: “I don’t care.”
Dad:” Like a quarter inch? Like a half?”
Me: Handing him the bracket, “The same as this.”
Dad: “To what tolerance?”
Me: Finally grasping how this works: “Approximately visually the same. You determine it.”
Dad: “Ok.”

About 10 min later, I had a nice little Delrin riser that looked pretty damn similar to the bracket. Why did I tell you this story? Because I had a similar conversation with him one day about fasteners. (And about how I lost his torque wrench, which is another story altogether.) It pretty much followed the kind of information Mr. Graham provides in his Quora answer. I don’t remember much of it, but I *do* remember that it’s important that I think a little bit before selecting a fastener: How important is it that it holds? How is it stressed? Do I need to think deeper (or consult someone) about it, or is my solution good enough?

Anyway, enjoy the read. At the moment the answer is the “first,” which means you can view it without a Quora account. If you happen to get there too late, I’d suggest just setting up a freebie account. Sure, you’ll see lots of weird stuff there, but every so often you come across a gem like this. If nothing else, Quora is way more entertaining than the latest political forward by your relatives.

What is something useful about Engineering… [Quora]

 

14 Responses to A Quick Read on Fastener Science

  1. Toolaremia says:

    Hey! Welcome back!

    I ran across another site that goes into great detail on fastener science. After geeking-out on it for several hours, the first thing I did was throw-away all my split “lock” washers. They do nothing!

    http://www.boltscience.com/

    P.S. As time allows, please clean up the spam that’s polluting the comments?

    • ambush27 says:

      Better yet, assign some moderators and guest editors, there’s still a community around here willing to help, whatever happened to the other editors anyway?

  2. Brett says:

    It’s alive!!!

  3. Lee says:

    We missed you guys! THANK YOU for coming back!

  4. Marc says:

    I’m a big fan of Quora myself, lots of really great, carefully thought out content. Thanks for sharing the story. Oh, and remind me to start scheduling vacations like you guys! Good to see signs of life on the site again Chuck.

  5. Daniel says:

    Welcome back!! You were missed!

  6. Steve says:

    You’re back! I was just thinking ‘I miss Toolmonger, I wonder if there are any other tool blogs out there’, and I did a search and there you were. Don’t ever leave me again!

  7. Pruitt says:

    Even though it was less frequent, I still habitually checked the site every few weeks. Glad to see the post! I hope all is well.

  8. Txinkman says:

    Just checking once again. And there you are! Welcome back and I hope you can post regularily.

  9. Tony says:

    It’s alive!

    What manner of sorcery is this?

  10. Bruce says:

    Welcome back!

  11. jesse says:

    Glad to see you’re back. I am sure everyone wonders where you have been?

  12. i’ve always wondered how soft nylon was compared to plastic. lmao!

  13. Bill Heinbach says:

    Welcome Back! I’m glad I left my RSS feed running, what a nice surprise to see this pop up.

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