As they say, “knowledge is power” and nothing makes you sound less smarter (that was a joke, no emails please) than walking into the local fastener shop and trying to buy something when you don’t even know what it’s called. The conversation typically goes something like “I need a triangle shaped one-inch screw with star pattern hole, but it has a post in the center”. This typically leads to a perplexed look from the counter person as they try to figure out exactly what it is you need. Wouldn't it be easier to say “I need a one-inch long flat screw with a tamper-resistant Torx head” In addition to getting what you require faster you’ll sound like you know what’s going on. Knowing what the fastener is called also makes it easier to find a tool for some of the more specialized pieces.
Most of us know the common stuff out there, but there are a lot of different types of hardware on the market. Sometimes it’s not a matter of identifying what you have, but instead knowing that a particular fastener exists that might be perfect for your application. And, while some of these don’t often find their way into our automotive hobby, a surprisingly large amount of them do. Given this we decided to put together an identification guide of the most, and least, common bolts, nuts, washer, and head types that you might run into.