If you spend long hours tucked away in your machine or wood shop, then you most likely know the agony of trying to figure out the size of nut, bolt, or screw. Whether you are assembling or disassembling a project build, or you are just doing some routine maintenance on your vehicle, knowing what you need, when you need it can save you a lot of time.
Tired of constant trips to the hardware store? Fed up with second, third, and fourth guesses as to the right size of a thorn-in-your-side bolt? Then you need to invest in a thread and bolt checker. Your local hardware store already has one. So why don’t you?
This article will highlight two of the best thread and bolt checkers available. One is for the machinist or mechanic that prefers to know the pitch thread or bolt size when they are standing over the product. The other is a great stationary addition to your workbench that will serve you well in terms of nut, bolt, and screw organization. Both can be easily found on Amazon.
Let’s get started.
S&W Manufacturing Nut and Bolt Thread Checker
The thread and bolt checkers we will be discussing today are really two versions of the same product – S&W Manufacturing’s Nut and Bolt Thread Checker. One version is a stationary, wall mounted thread and bolt checker. This is a great tool to mount either on the wall by your workbench, or directly on your workbench.
The second version we will be reviewing is the portable version of the Nut and Bolt Thread Checker. This cord based thread and bolt checker has pegs for every common SAE and metric size of thread and bolt, on an easy to maneuver cord.
This is a great option for when you need to pinpoint the size of the bolt of thread you need but can’t take off the bolt or screw due to first needing the right sized ratchet or wrench. It’s also a great option for when you don’t feel like walking back and forth between your project and your workbench.
Machinists and builders have found both options to work quite well. The best way to utilize this tool is to purchase both a mounted version, as well as a portable cord based version.
Let’s take a look at both the pros and cons of both the mounted and portable versions of S&W Manufacturing’s Nut and Bolt Thread Checker
Wall Mounted Nut and Bolt Thread Checker
The wall mounted version better serves the purpose of checking the thread size of nuts, bolts, and screws that are not currently inserted and thread. One of the best uses for this version is organizing your shop.
Let’s face it, just about any hobbyist or professional machinist, carpenter, mechanic or any other person with a workshop is prone to letting things get a little unorganized. Nuts, bolts, and screws are some of the most infamous bits to add up and end up in buckets, jars, cups, and scattered throughout your shop.
Anyone who utilizes the convenience of having their own workshop knows that when it is clean and tidy, projects can become less of a headache. One of the biggest tasks when it comes to organizing your workshop is sorting and categorizing nuts, bolts, and screws. S&W Manufacturing’s wall mounted Nut and Bolt Thread Checker is just the tool for the job.
The wall mounted version includes all of the common SAE and metric sizes. This takes out any guesswork of the size you need when you make your trip to your local or big box hardware store.
The S&W Manufacturing wall mounted Nut and Bolt Thread Checker will cost you between $50-$60 on Amazon. This is the best rated wall mounted version listed on Amazon (Amazon Link).
The wall mounted version has a couple of solid pros that factor into the purchasing decision. For starters, you won’t have to worry about losing your place in the size checking process.
Secondly, it won’t be a tool that leaves you scratching your head wondering who you lent it out to. The fact that it’s mounted to your workshop wall or workbench quickly dissolves any worry of that sort.
Another plus for the wall mounted version is that the writing that identifies the size of the bolts and threads is easier to read than that of the portable version. This is because the test bolts and threads are screwed into a back panel. This makes it quite larger than the cord based portable version. This is a major perk for the older generations out there that might have trouble reading fine print writing.
One of the not so appreciated features of the wall mounted version is the strength of both the backing and the glossed surface of the product. Some customers have complained that they are worried that their nut and bolt checker will fall off their workshop wall due to the lack of sturdy backing. Other customers have voiced complaints about the quality of the glossed front surface peeling off. This can make it hard to read the bolt and thread size descriptions.
Various customers have also complained about their product being warped when it first arrived. It is unclear whether this was due to rough shipping conditions or if it is a problem with the quality of the material.
It is important to note that many of these complaints were from several years back. Both the shipping, as well as, the quality concerns seem to have been resolved. Props goes to S&W Manufacturing for listening to their customer base, and making the necessary adjustments.
Portable Nut and Bolt Thread Checker
Now let’s take a look at the portable version of the S&W Manufacturing Nut and Bolt Thread Checker.
This is a great tool for mobile use. It’s perfect when you are underneath the hood or body of your vehicle, or have to reach a ways up or down on a word working or machine building project. When you need to know the exact size of a nut, bolt, or screw so that you can either unscrew it, or you need to know the thread size in a place that is out of reach of your wall mounted nut and bolt thread checker.
This portable cord based nut and bolt Thread checker includes all common SEA and metric sized bolt and threads on what some refer to as a “necklace style” system. This makes it easy to access whatever size bolt or thread plug you need. Even when the thread hole or bolt is in a hard to reach area.
The S&W portable Nut and Bolt Thread Checker will run you between $30-$50 on Amazon. You can find the high rated one by clicking here (Amazon Link).
Here’s what customers are praising this portable nut and bolt thread checker for.
Customers appreciate the easy to read sizes. The thread sizes are easily identifiable as the bolt plugs themselves are zinc-plated. The SAE sizes are engraved and clearly marked in red paint, with the metric series engraved and marked in white paint. The writing is smaller than that on the wall mounted version, but they are written clearly which helps to make them easier to read.
Customers are also appreciative that all of the bolt plugs have both a male and female part. This makes it easy to indefinive both threads and bolt head sizes.
Customers have also made a couple of complaints about the portable version.
Some customers have complained that the size markings are not consistent with some being smaller than others, and some with paint that is faded.
Other customers have complained about the lack of speciality sized bolts and threads. This is important to note as both the portable and the wall mounted versions do not include any speciality sized bolt plugs.
However, they include almost every common size of SAE and metric bolt and thread. Other customers have pointed out the certain specilitary sizes are so rare that many professional woodworkers, machinists, and auto mechanics have never even used them throughout their career.
The Final Verdict
The S&W Manufacturing Nut and Bolt Thread Checker is one of the most consistent and reliable nut and bolt thread checkers on the market. To get the most out of the product you should utilize both the mounted and the portable versions. The mounted version is a great tool when it comes to the organizing of your workshop, while the portable version is best for on-project size checks.