Look around you right now. Whether you realize it or not, you’re surrounded. In probably every direction you can look, no matter where you are, you’re looking at more than one hanger bolt. These bolts actually hold your entire life together.
You just don’t realize it, because hanger bolts hold the world together in silence. They do not ask for praise. They do not make a big fuss. They’re not showy. In fact, you probably can’t see them no matter how hard you look.
But if you’re sitting right now, you should say thank you to the hanger bolts of the world. Because without them, your chairs, your bed, even your couch wouldn’t really be possible.
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The Bolts That Secure the World
Hanger bolts are very much unsung heroes of hardware. These bolts aren’t fancy, they aren’t pretty and you may never hear about them or think about them. They aren’t like those other bolts that are always showing off, but hanger bolts make your home what it is.
You see, hanger bolts are used to attach legs to furniture. So once you really start looking around, you’ll realize that hanger bolts are all around you all of the time. If you’re going to put a piece of furniture together, then you’re going to need to know all about hanger bolts.
These Bolts Have Legs
More than any other bolt in the store, hanger bolts are responsible for holding your furniture together. These bolts are so essential for attaching legs to pieces of furniture, they usually come included with every furniture purchase you make.
You may have never purchased hanger bolts in your entire life because they always come with everything you buy that needs legs. Hanger bolts are used in tables, chairs, beds, couches, bookcases, desks…well, you get it. If it’s got legs and it’s furniture, then it’s probably been put together with hanger bolts.
Hanger bolts are also the DIYer’s dream. They’re extremely useful and great for all kinds of DIY projects. Hanger bolts can be used to attach dowels to create pegs, to secure finials to fence posts and banisters, and to attach legs to any furniture. When you know how to use them and how to work with them, you’ll start finding all sorts of reasons to use hanger bolts.
The Anatomy of a Hanger Bolt
Hanger bolts have a distinct look. Once you know how to recognize them, you can always spot them. This is because these bolts are double-ended. Each end is different. One end is a little more pointy so it can be inserted into the wood.
The other end is flat, which makes it ideal for inserting into metal. The pointy end goes into the leg, the dowel, or the finial. The flat end is usually inserted into a mounting plate that is screwed into the underside of a piece of furniture.
When you look at a hanger bolt, it appears almost as though two different bolts were welded together. One half of the bolt has wood threads down the shaft. The other half has much closer threads down the shaft because this side is made to go into metal.
The diameter of a hanger bolt may even vary between halves. Check all your measurements carefully to be sure you get the exact right size of the hanger bolt you need. Check the measurements on both halves of the bolt. They are made in all sorts of different diameters and lengths because furniture comes in all shapes, sizes, and designs.
Be as precise as possible when picking out your hanger bolts because there isn’t much room for error when it comes to attaching furniture legs. Do this project badly and you could end up with something even worse than broken furniture.
Using Hanger Bolts
It’s obvious, from first glance, that hanger bolts are pretty handy little pieces of hardware. It’s incredibly useful to have a bolt that can be secured to the wood on one end and metal on the other. However, working with hanger bolts is much trickier than that first glance will reveal.
Because both sides of the bolt are threaded and because there is no head on a hanger bolt, it’s hard to grip them with pliers and other tools. You can spend many frustrating minutes trying to get a good hold on a hanger bolt with a pair of pliers, and possibly introduce your kids to the language they’re not quite old enough to hear yet.
It’s a little easier if you do some prep work before you try to grab onto a hanger bolt and get to work. Pre-drill your holes to make things much less difficult. Find the center of the leg you’re going to attach and mark it with a pencil.
Next, attach a drill bit that’s slightly smaller than the hanger bolt you’re using to your drill. Make a small pilot hole, less than 1/2 inch in size, at the spot you marked. You can measure from the tip of your drill bit and wrap painter’s tape around the drill bit to keep yourself from drilling too deep.
Once your hole is pre-drilled, set the drill aside and screw two nuts onto your hanger bolt. You want to get both nuts at the flat end of the bolt and secure them tightly. Use pliers to get the nuts as securely on the bolt as you can. This will give you something to grip onto with a socket wrench.
Now, you can use the wrench to install your bolt into your furniture leg. Make sure you’re placing the bolt into the leg perfectly straight. Otherwise, you’ll end up with crooked furniture. If you already have a nut driver, you can use your drill to insert the hanger bolt instead of doing it manually with a wrench.
Once the wood end of the bolt is in the leg, remove the nuts and continue with your project. It’s that easy to install a hanger bolt. Once you know exactly how to do it, you won’t ever have much trouble working with hanger bolts.
Building a Better Life
Now that you know a little more about hanger bolts, you’re probably going to think about them a lot more. These are the bolts that hold your home together and they’re essential for the creative DIYer. So the next time you sit down, think about the hanger bolts that made it possible…and how you’re going to use them in your next home project.
KC Morgan has been a professional freelance writer since 2006. Over the last decade, KC has published thousands of articles and blog posts that have been read by millions. A DIYer in her free time, KC has written hundreds of how-tos, guides and tutorials for different DIY and improvement projects around the house.
KC’s articles have appeared in “Popular Mechanics,” and have been featured on Bob Vila’s website. KC has written in-depth DIY articles for Sears.com and Overstock.com, as well as dozens of other websites. When she’s not writing or DIYing, KC enjoys watching college basketball, playing with her cats and experimenting with new cupcake recipes. Follow KC on Twitter @KCMorganWrites.