Grip Minutia: Bolt Kit

After my last post someone asked me what I consider "standard" in a bolt kit and I really struggle with saying anything definitive because so much of it depends on your personal style/taste and how much room you have to devote to bolt storage. But fear not, I'm going to persevere and give you a list. It's based off of my personal kit and I'll separate it into three separate lists: Essential, Good, and Above and Beyond. Quantities are totally up to the individual although when it comes to 3/8" more is always better. Links listed are to the McMaster-Carr item listing, but look around your area for a dedicated bolt dealer for much better prices. In fact a lot of places will do you a better deal for cash, my bolt guy filled up my boss's box for like $40(and it was stupid full of good stuff).

Essential

  • 3/8" -16 Grade 8 Bolts- Assorted sizes starting as low as 3/4" and going up as high as you feel necessary(3"-4" is a good stopping point, but if you've got the space why not go bigger)

  • 3/8" -16 Grade 8 Nuts- Standard style hex nuts are a must, as nice as locking nuts are there are plenty of occasions where a standard nut will save your bacon.

  • 3/8" -16 Grade C Nuts- These guys aren't your grandpappy's lock nuts. Instead of using a nylon insert to provide the lock the top(rounded) side of the nut is deformed into an oval. This means you can use them over and over again and they are on par with Grade 8 when it comes to strength. They are also high temp resistant because there isn't any nylon to melt, although that rarely comes into play when gripping. These are my personal favorite.

  • 3/8" Grade 8 SAE and USS Washers- Washers are an essential part of every kit and having an narrower size(SAE) and a larger size(USS) is a really good idea. You'll notice that neither of these is a fender washer. That is because they don't make Grade 8 fender washers leave the fender washers for your screw bag and use the correct size bolt for the hole. This should be the largest quantity item in your bolt kit as each single bolt will use two.

  • 3/8" Grade 8 Lock Washers(Split)- Use these anywhere you can't or don't want to use a Grade C nuts and always use a regular washer underneath so you don't chew up your cheeseplate.

  • 1/4" -20 Bolts- The same kind of assortment as with 3/8" only you don't have to go as long or have as many. You could get these in Grade 8 and if you have the money, why not; but chances are whatever you're using them for is light enough that your standard "butter" bolts are fine.

  • 1/4" -20 Nuts, Lock Nuts, Washers, Lock Washers- A small selection of these is fine since you won't be you won't be using them that often. This is also one case where carrying a few fender washers isn't terrible.

  • 3/8" -16 Set Screws- These "grub nuts" are essential for replacing ones that have fallen out. Sure you can just steal from a piece of gear that isn't working... but that just starts a vicious cycle.

Yes, I'm missing all of my regular nuts... they're in an away package with a lot of the bolts.

Yes, I'm missing all of my regular nuts... they're in an away package with a lot of the bolts.

Good

  • 5/16" -18 Bolts, Nuts, Etc- While you won't run into much hardware that uses this size, it's nice to have for the rare occasion you need it.
  • 5/16" and 1/4" T-Handles- Not 100% necessary, but it's nice to be able to replace missing T-Handles.

  • 3/8" Male Knobs- Same things as above but these have the added benefit of being able to replace grub nuts for fittings that need adjusting often. It's good to have some of the knurled kind and some of the T kind.

  • 3/8" and 1/4" Female Knobs- Lots of uses for these guys. Just like the male kind it's nice to have a mix of knurled an T types.

  • 3/8" - 16 Forged Shouldered Eye Bolt- Take your pick on the length, but shorter is usually better. You don't need many of these, but at least one for a camera safety. Nothing looks less pro than pulling out a bent wire eye bolt.

  • Countersunk 3/8" -16 Bolts- If you have any cheeseplates with countersunk holes, you're going to want a few of these in your kit. Buy them in sets of 4 and don't go much bigger 1 1/2", you'll never use that much thread.

Above and Beyond

  • 3/8" -16 and 1/4" -20 Tee-Nuts- If you find yourself building a lot of your equipment out of wood, these are essential. Just remember that they are only replacing a regular nut, they don't instantly make the bolt part of the wood. Lateral forces will rip them right out unless they're going through some sort of flange.
  • 3/8" -16 Wood-Screw-Threaded Studs- These are basically the opposite of a Tee-Nut.
  • VESA screws- With most monitors these days being flat panels a whole crop of mounts have appeared to mount those panels on to the standard baby/junior/speedrail system. What all of those brackets have in common is that they use the 4 holes on the back of the monitor. What all those holes have in common is that they follow a standard known as VESA. Unfortunately there are a ton of different standards within VESA so I'll just drop a Wikipedia link here and let you explore on your own.
  • 3/8" -16 M to 1/4" -20 M Adapter- I'm pretty sure you can't really buy these anywhere that would tell you they are "rated" but they can be really useful for mounting that dohicky to the whatsit.
  • 3/8" -16 M to 1/4" -20 F Bushing- Also called a reducer these guys can be a little easy to lose and kind of a camera thing but they're nice to have.
  • 3/8" -16 Body Starters- Made by Modern Studio Equipment or any of your friends that can weld, these guys can make your car rigs a whole lot easier. They're made for sticking through a hole in the unibody of a car and then toggling them so the thread is out and the head of the T is inside the body. They must be installed very carefully but they can be super helpful.

You'll notice that I didn't include any metric anything(other than the VESA). Unless you are doing work overseas or just want to have a super complete kit there isn't much use for metric bolts.

I also didn't include threaded rod or coupling nuts. Those are both great things to keep in your package but don't really fit in your bolt kit per se.

I also didn't include any concrete or masonry anchors but it's worth noting that a good stock of Redheads can save your bacon.

Anyway, that's it. Let me know if there is anything I'm missing that you wouldn't leave home without.