Commonly used with bolts, nuts are shaped like a cylinder with a hole in the center that allows them to be fastened onto the end of a bolt, often to create a second head to prevent the bolt from loosening and coming out of its mounting hole. While the most common form of nut you will see is the hexagonal kind, there are also square nuts which differ in one major way.
As the most common form of nut, hex nuts are characterized by their hexagonal shape, meaning that they have six sides on their exterior. This style is well suited for being fastened using a wrench, and it provides easy rotation during installation. Hex nuts will also have interior threading that allows them to be very tightly twisted onto a bolt or similar fastener. Though all hex nuts have the same general shape, they come in many varieties to suit different operations. For example, some hex nuts will have self-locking mechanisms like threaded inserts that help keep them even more secure than the standard option. Square nuts are a similar type of threaded fastener but with a square shape on their exterior. Nevertheless, they also have a hollow, ring-shaped center that features interior threading.
Hex nuts and square nuts share their use of a hollow center with internal threading but differ in their external shape. When considering this difference, hex nuts are the more frequently used option because their hexagonal shape makes them easier to install. By having six sides, hex nuts offer more torque so that the nut can be more easily rotated with less movement than is required for a square nut. For this reason, hex nuts are also more easily installed in small spaces where there is limited range of motion for the operator installing the nut. With only four sides, the wrench must be moved a full 90-degrees to achieve the same amount of torque that a hex nut can with only 60 degrees of rotation. However, hex nuts are not always the favored option as the tradeoff for being easily installed is that they are also more easily removed. As such, square nuts are typically better protected against unintentional loosening. They also cover a greater surface area of the object with which they are used, providing further resistance against detachment.
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