To begin this post, I would first like to state that I’m new to the Fastener world, but being located at Thomas Smith Fasteners I am learning a lot in a very short space of time. One of the main benefits of being situated at Thomas Smith Fasteners is our manufacturer Smith Bullough being located on site. This has allowed me to understand very quickly what we sell here at Thomas Smith and how it’s manufactured. So to avoid basic copyright infringement, we’re showing ‘How it’s Made’, but calling it ‘How it’s Done’.
How much work goes into making a bolt?
Now, I’ll openly admit that less than two weeks ago, I didn’t have a clue where to start with making fasteners, in fact I said as much in my interview. My point being I just never really thought about it. It was a question I didn’t to know the answer to, like ‘why does a pizza come in a square box?’ (If anyone has the answer send me a DM).
I was going in blind. So I decided to do what anyone in a new job does, ask the bosses a million questions and hope they don’t get sick of answering them.
These questions, led to a tour of the factory, at which point I could see how our fasteners begin to take shape. I entered the factory at Smith Bullough, with the finished product in hand to watch ‘How it’s done’ (Discovery+ aren’t catching on, I hope).
Stage One – A Really Big Saw
We need to cut down our steel rod to size for manufacturing, given that we make both metric and imperial sizes, these can range massively. The team ensure that we have the right length to and then cut down to the right size with the Addison CB250A. When I say it’s a big saw, that kind of undersells it, it cuts through steel like a knife through butter, seriously impressive. I stood back about fifteen yards just in case.
Stage Two – Fire and Brimstone
Through the fire and flames (kind of). This is where we enter the forge, our pins are heated using an induction heater. They can range anywhere between 1,500 and 2000 degrees, and then are pulled out smoking like Pat Butcher on an EastEnders Christmas Special. The pin is then forged into a hexagon blank by being bit by the forge hammer. It’s at this point everything begins to look as you’d expect as the bolt is trimmed and set aside to cool down. I stood back around 20 yards for this one, and that felt like the Costa del Sol.
Stage Three – Big Wheels Keep On Turning
Onto my favourite part. We have our blank and we now need to add the thread. But first we need to chamfer our budding bolt to be. Adding a smooth edge to end of our bolt by applying a lubricant and then filing away the rough edges using a spinning wheel. Following the chamfer process, we enter the area of hypnosis, cut threads. I’ll be honest, I could watch this process all day and not get bored, if Netflix were to come down and film thread cutting for a 20 episode series, they could double my monthly subscription and I’d happily pay just to watch ‘Wednesday’, ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘Cut Threads’. Again using a lubricant and put through a spinning wheel the thread is cut into the bolt. Hypnotic.
Stage Four – The Final Bells and Whistles
Finally now our threads been cut we’re onto the final countdown our piece of steel’s been burnt, battered and cut and is now going to get cleaned up before we send it out into the big leagues. The first stage of this comes from thread rolling smoothening up those edges before we hit the CNC machine to get its final bit of pampering. We get a machine shank, and then a bit more chamfering to make it neat and tidy before one final bit of form threading then bang, you’ve got a bolt.
Now it’s done
So our bolt’s now made and ready to be used, well aside from quality control but we’ll chat about them another time. And as much as it’s probably took about 5 minutes to read this in that time our team have probably made 15 more bolts to go with the one you’ve just read about. Whether is be metric or imperial our teams have got it covered. For any enquiries contact Thomas Smith Fasteners.
And if Netflix want my ‘Thread Cut Hypnosis’ TV idea they can drop me an email, thanks for reading.