How to Keep Carriage Bolts From Spinning

Carriage bolts are a particular type of bolt that is used in heavy-duty construction projects. The carriage bolt consists of a steel shaft and a large hexagonal head with an unthreaded shank below the head. The design of this type of bolt makes it ideal for when you don’t want the nut and washer to spin during installation, but what happens when they do?

How to Keep Carriage Bolts From Spinning

Luckily there are several ways to prevent this from happening just follow the simple steps mentioned in these blog posts on how to keep carriage bolts from spinning. First, use a center punch to mark the locations where you will drill your pilot holes into each piece that you’re fastening together. Then drill out those holes so they’re exactly as deep as the length of your carriage bolts; if they aren’t deep enough, be sure to drill them deeper. Once you have done this, tap the carriage bolt into place with a hammer and then set it with a torch if necessary. Read on to know more information!

10 Ways on How to Keep Carriage Bolts From Spinning:

1. Use Lock Washers:

Carriage bolts are threaded at both ends, so after you insert them in the holes and hand-tighten them with a wrench or socket set, they should stay put. If not, use lock washers to prevent the bolt from turning and backing out. Lock washers feature an interlocking pattern that presses against the nut to prevent it from turning.

2. Countersink the Holes:

If you’re working with softer wood than the bolt, such as pine or basswood, countersinking the holes is a quick and effective way of preventing any spinning. Your carriage bolts will have a flat bottom, so drill your countersink hole a little deeper than the length of the bolt. Bolt manufacturers recommend a countersink bit that’s 1/16″ larger in diameter than your fastener, but this may vary from one manufacturer to another.

3. Use a Solid Surface:

If you don’t have a countersink bit, you can use a solid surface that’s larger than the screw or bolt head. This could be a rubber backing that you can buy at the hardware store, an eraser, wood putty, or even some smashed-up chewing gum. A flathead screwdriver will usually do the trick on softwood, especially if it’s smaller than your carriage bolt head.

4. Use a Reamer:

Reamers are designed to remove material from a hole. So after you drill the countersink, ream the hole slightly larger than the diameter of your carriage bolt head. This will prevent it from spinning, and because there’s a little friction between the bolt and the reamed hole, you’ll still be able to tighten it down with a wrench.

5. Use Loctite:

If you’re working on an outdoor project, you can use construction adhesive to keep your carriage bolts from spinning. Others have reported success with silicone or polyurethane caulks as well. Just clean the hole out before applying the adhesive, place your bolt in it, and let it cure.

6. Use a Hex Nut:

If you’re working with metal, get some hex nuts that are slightly larger than the head on your carriage bolt and place them over the exposed threads of the bolts after they’re installed in your project. This will prevent them from spinning while still allowing them to be tightened down with a wrench or socket set.

You're working with metal, get some hex nuts that are slightly larger than the head on your carriage bolt

7. Use a Spacer:

If you’re working with metal, use a piece of rubber, plastic, tape, or anything else that’s slightly larger than the head of your carriage bolt to prevent it from spinning while threading it into the wood. If the hole is countersunk and reamed properly, the spacer should be flush with the surface of your project.

8. Use a Rubber Pad:

Place a rubber pad or washer over the head of your carriage bolt and tighten it into the drywall, sheetrock, hardboard, masonite, plywood, exterior wall-board paneling, etc. This will prevent it from coming loose while you’re working on your project, but should still allow you to loosen up the bolt to take your project apart when you’re done.

9. Use Penetrating Oil:

If all else fails, try spraying some penetrating oil around the circumference of your carriage bolt before inserting it in the hole. This won’t prevent the bolt from spinning, but it should make it easier to remove after you tighten it down. Another option is to heat your carriage bolt with a torch and then spray the area around the threads and between the sheaves (or whatever part of your structure or project that’s holding the bolt captive) with penetrating oil. Let it soak for a while, and then try removing it with a wrench or socket set.

10. Drill It Out:

If you’ve tried everything else, your carriage bolt is probably stuck in place pretty tight. If this is the case, you can drill it out with relative ease if you use a combination of lubricants (penetrating oil, dish soap, laundry detergent, cooking oil, etc.). Let the lubricant soak into it for a while before you start drilling. If there are metal shavings in your hole (or on the top of your carriage bolt), use WD-40 to clean them out first. This should allow you to drill right through it without any trouble.

Precautions and Safety Measures:

What you do from the time you enter a work area until you leave can have a considerable safety impact on your project. For example, when drilling holes for carriage bolts, keep the following safety tips in mind to protect yourself and others:

  1. Always wear eye protection. It is too easy to lose an eye when working with power tools.Always Wear Eye Protection
  2. Don’t wear loose clothing or jewelry that could get caught in the drill, saw, or other tools. Loose ties, long sleeve shirts with hanging sleeves, bracelets, and dangling necklaces are all risks to be aware of.
  3. When drilling wood, always clamp your workpiece down securely before you start drilling. Be sure to clamp your wood down in a way that allows you to drill without the workpiece moving around on you.
  4. If possible, remove any nails from the wood before drilling. The force of a rotating drill bit can drive the nail through your workpiece, creating a much larger issue than you would have had if you’d put in a carriage bolt without removing it.
  5. Make sure that all power cords are out of your way and not draped over any benches or other work surfaces where tools could damage them.


Carriage bolts are a standard fastener used in construction. These large, round-headed screws have been around for over 100 years and were invented to solve the problem of how to keep carriage bolts from spinning when they were tightened down with a wrench or screwdriver. However, there are some ways you can prevent this from happening.

We have already discussed them in these blog posts. So be sure to check them out! We hope this article has given you some insights on how to keep carriage bolts from spinning. If not, feel free to contact us for more information about this topic. Thank you for reading!

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