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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.”

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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:

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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.”

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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]


83 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!


    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.

  14. Melvin says:

    Wow, perseverance pays off. Welcome back, hope this means more regular updates going forward.

    • Mike says:

      I think this was just a tease. It’s been well over a month since this post.

      • Mike Baker says:

        hahahaha… Looks that way. The best part is that it was well over a year without a post, update, notification or anything.

        They one day randomly they make a post. No he loyal followers we are sorry for the delay… blah blah blah

        All this loyalty to the site and the guys behind it and not a lick of respect for the people that supported them. I felt bad giving them crap in the past for just disappearing without knowing the circumstances behind the sudden lack of content and information.

        Now that they threw something up without addressing the elephant in the room there is no excuse. They took the time to make this post but didn’t have the time to come up with a few sentences to apologize to all the toolmonger followers.

        Oh well the constant checking for updates, feedback and loyalty to this site is over for me.


        • Mark says:

          Mike, I second your statement…”All this loyalty to the site and the guys behind it and not a lick of respect for the people that supported them”.

          • pruitt says:

            Makes me wonder if the post was scheduled through whatever blog engine the site uses (WordPress?) and the owners didn’t even realize it happened.

  15. Kevin says:

    I guess it’s time to wait another year.

  16. Chris says:

    Welp, I guess this article was just a trick to get our hopes up. :(

  17. Ryan says:

    I used to read this site daily…. YEARS AGO.

    What the hell happened? What’s the point of posting anything here anymore? :(

  18. Mike Baker says:

    Well I know that Chuck Cage is alive and well so for all those who were concerned that something bad happened to him or the others may not be the case.

    Found him on FB/linkedIn and a picture posted of him on FB by I assume his GF or someone.

    He just simply did not care enough to let us know that he moved on. Or he/they sold toolmonger and let it die?

    • pruitt says:

      Thanks for posting this Mike. I had wondered if anything catastrophic had occurred. I do still wonder why nothing has ever been posted to explain the status of the site, but oh well. Still miss this site. It was nice to go somewhere and read good news.

  19. I never thought fastener science could be so interesting haha. Thanks Chuck!

  20. thanks for great article . It help me more .

  21. Coach James says:

    Just checking in to see if it was back to life yet.

  22. Ronnie says:

    Anybody there?
    That was a real interesting read over at quora, also boltscience mentioned by the first poster has a ton of useful info.

  23. Tony says:

    Yes, it’s the annual “Hey look, this website is still up” post!

    See you all next year!

  24. Nic George says:

    2 years since the last post…

  25. Warren says:

    Very sad this blog seems to have died :(

  26. Economics Teacher says:

    Bueller?… Bueller?… Bueller?

  27. Lee says:

    At least they’re paying to keep the domain and hosting services. Maybe they still have plans for a revival one day. Fingers crossed!

  28. Coach James says:

    Let’s hope it comes back someday.

  29. gervase says:

    simplifiying the quora question….great introduction to the precision of engineering

  30. Thank your site! information your share is useful to me!

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  32. I never thought fastener science but now I’m able to know details on it. Thanks your info.

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  34. Ryan says:

    I don’t understand why it is disrespectful to only post every once in a while? Guys, just enjoy the great FREE content that is available….

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  36. Tony says:

    Well, it’s the annual “Yup, still dead” post.

  37. Daniel says:

    3 years out, and still checking back occasionaly. It was a good blog…

  38. I love DIY work so I have to work Fastening. I think your info make me more experience on fastening.

  39. Wonderful site. Plenty of useful info here. I am sending it to some friends ans additionally sharing in delicious.
    And naturally, thank you for your sweat!

  40. Inez says:

    I really like reading through a post that can make people think.
    Also, many thanks for allowing for me to comment!

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  42. says:

    Quora is way more entertaining than the latest political forward by your relatives.

  43. No Quarter says:

    Still checking back from time to time. I’m here October 28, 2017 and still waiting for updates.

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  45. Quora is way more entertaining than the latest political forward by your relatives.

  46. Sam says:

    Yup, still dead. Too bad.

  47. Daniel says:

    Whew, I got a 403 error last time I checked – glad to see it’s back, as much as it’s been back for the last 3 1/2 years!

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  51. Chenden says:

    It will be so nice if they can start posting more regularly as they now have a good following. I hope the admin is reading this and will do something about posting. I actually like how this posts go into detail and bring fun into each piece.

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    Incredible content. Congratulations for always posting informational content.

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  56. Good read Chuck! I am fascinated as well.

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