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The hex bolts in my local home depot (specifically the size 3/8-16) all have the same thickness of the hex head. It looks to me to be about 3/16 of an inch thick. I need to recess a hex screw inside an aluminum block and recess a corresponding bolt on the other size of the aluminum block so the male hex bolt sticks out and is secure. However, because of the large thickness of the hex bolt head plus the thickness of the hex nut, it would require me to use a very thick piece of aluminum. Do they make thinner hex bolt heads/nuts so I could use a thinner piece of aluminum for the base?

This is for a baseplate stand for a camera system in my home, 3/8-16 is the standard base screw for all tripods I will be working with. Thank you for the help.

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How does this belong on a home improvement site? –  user558 Jan 27 '12 at 10:13
    
@woodchips - without context we don't know. –  ChrisF Jan 27 '12 at 12:06
    
My point is that especially without context, this is probably a better question for a metal working site, where you will find machinists who would be better able to answer these questions anyway. More background would also allow people to make suggestions for alternatives to using a block of aluminum. For example, perhaps a thick piece of plastic would suffice, or a nice solid piece of white oak, a wood that can take anything you can throw at it. And if we knew the context around the problem, we might then know if a thinner screw diameter would work. –  user558 Jan 27 '12 at 15:31
    
edited to add the home improvement use –  trying_hal9000 Jan 27 '12 at 21:57
    
I think that knowing what it is for makes the question more interesting, so thanks for the info. –  user558 Jan 27 '12 at 23:45
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2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

You probably don't want to do that anyway! Think carefully of what your request would mean.

A 3/8-16 thread means that the width of the bolt is essentially 3/8 inch, but what matters here is the 16. That tells us the thread pitch is 16 threads per inch. The nut being about 3/16 inches thick means that the bolt and the nut mate on three threads. A thinner nut would have less thread contact, so less strength.

If you really need a thinner nut, then it will be easiest to use a smaller diameter bolt. They have finer threads, so the nuts are also correspondingly thinner. Of course, I don't know why it is that you have chosen a 3/8-16 bolt. You may also choose a different thread pitch for your bolt. The 3/8-16 thread pitch is the standard (coarse) thread that you will find in nearly all home stores. However a more diligent search will find bolts and nuts with a 3/8-24 or even a 3/8-32 thread. They may have nuts in a different thickness.

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Try asking for jam nuts at the homecenter.They are typically 1/2 the thickness of a standard nut for the same size fastener.

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