So you have selected your fit out company, compared their design for your new office with others and they are now fitting out your new office. Have you any idea how everything they are fitting is fastened together?
Fasteners are essential in all types of wooden and structural components and there is an enormous selection used by craftsmen and artisans and builders in today’s construction industry. Greek philosopher and inventor Archimedes is thought to be responsible for the concept of the screw, originally used to raise water from one level to a higher one. The same principle is what allows nuts to rotate up and down a cylindrical shaft.
In the mid 19th century Sir Joseph Whitworth developed a set of specifications for standardising fasteners. Now obselete for new specifications, Whitworth thread and nut sizes became widely used, even the most modern toolboxes have a few Whitworth spanners in.
Nails, originally handmade, have been used for thousands of years but were always relatively expensive. Look at the roof in an old church and much of the construction is held in place by wooden dowels. Cut nails would still be used in heavy-duty applications or in renovation of an historical nature. Wire nails are now cheaply mass-produced but not many are used in a modern office installation.
Metal screws are generally used to join pieces of wood or fix something to a piece of wood. Made most often of steel, they are also commonly made of brass and less often of other metals.
The head traditionally had a slot in the head to take a standard flat screwdriver, a cross shaped slot, which originally was made by Phillips, is also now popular. There are also various specialist head slots such as triangular, torx (star), specialist heads designed for security and those with square holes.
Normally screws are countersunk so they can be screwed down to sit flush with the surface of the wood. Sometimes, however, they are designed with a raised head and made a feature of, often in door furniture, though more likely to be found in a country cottage than a modern office!
To fix to masonry, a plastic wall plug is inserted in a hole drilled in the wall and the action of screwing in the screw causes the plug to expand slightly and create a firm grip. The author of this article has resorted to a stick in an agricultural emergency repair situation!
Magnets are not very often used in office fitout but magnetic tape might be used in a noticeboard frame to enable easy change of the content.
Machine screws are like bolts in that they have a parallel shaft rather than tapered and are designed to either have a nut or a threaded hole to screw in to. They are used on furniture such as pedestal, cabinets and cupboards as well as chairs.
Your desk probably has a metal frame which incorporates the legs and is fixed to a top which has nuts held captive in the construction to match the holes in the frame. In cheaper desks, the holes in the frame may be, or need to be, elongated to take account of innaccurate manufacture.
Hanger bolts with a wood screw shank on one end and a machine screw on the other may also be used.
Your office chair is held together by a range of different machine screws. They will have different heads, some will be shoulder bolts, those visible may have a hexagonal head and bright finish or be stainless steel.
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