How to Tighten a Bolt That Keeps Spinning

How to Tighten a Bolt That Keeps Spinning

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Bolts are of course very useful, as they help keep things secure and in place. They are like screws on steroids, and they’re very important in many aspects of construction. So, you have a bolt and a nut, but no matter what you do, it all keeps spinning and spinning. This is a common problem.

However, there are a number of possible causes, and therefore, various solutions too. Let’s figure out why that bolt is spinning and how to stop it from doing so.

Why Do Bolts Spin When Being Tightened?

There are actually a few different reasons why bolts continue to spin once they should be tight. Of course, a bolt should spin while being tightened. However, once it gets to a certain point, it should be 100% secure and no longer able to move.

What causes this?

1. The Bolt Is Too Short

One thing that may cause this to occur is if the bolt you are using is not long enough for the hole. If the bolt is not long enough, it will not be able to properly grab onto the nut on the other end, and may just keep spinning.

2. The Bolt Is Too Narrow

Another issue that can cause a bolt to continue spinning once it should be tight is if the bolt in question is too small. The bolt may be too small for the hole, in which case, even if the nut is secured onto it, the bolt will continue to spin. Moreover, if the nut you are using is too large for the bolt, this can also cause the issue of bolt spinning to occur.

3. The Threads Are Stripped

Yet another cause of a bolt that continues spinning endlessly is if the threads are stripped. Now, this is a double-sided issue. Remember that both the bolt and the nut have threads on them. These threads, on both items, need to be in good condition. If the thread on either the nut or bolt is stripped, then the two items will not be able to properly hold onto each other. A stripped bolt or nut is perhaps the biggest cause of this issue.

4. You Aren’t Using the Right Tool

Although unlikely, you may just be using the wrong tool or performing this task improperly. You need to have a good wrench to hold onto the nut as you tighten the bolt with another wrench from the other end. If you can’t get a good grip on the nut or the bolt, then everything is just going to continue spinning.

5. The Nut Is Stuck

If either the bolt or the nut is damaged or misshaped, it can also cause this issue. This is also the case if the nut is not properly threaded on the bolt. This can cause the nut to get stuck in place on the bolt. You therefore won’t be able to fully tighten it, which results in that spinning.

6. There Is Debris in the Hole

There is one other factor to consider here, and this is if there is debris in the hole, particularly small debris such as specks of dust. Although it seems unlikely, dust and debris can act as lubricants inside the hole. Even if you tighten the nut as far as it can go, if there is a so-called lubricant in the bolt hole, the bolt may very well continue spinning.

7 Ways to Tighten a Bolt That Keeps Spinning

Seeing as there are multiple possible causes of this issue, there are also various solutions to consider. Let’s figure out how to tighten that bolt once and for all, based on the possible causes listed above.

Before you start taking things apart though, just give it one last shot to see if you can tighten it the regular way. There might have just been a glitch in the system, so to speak. Sometimes simply trying to retighten it can do the trick. However, if not, then you have the below solutions at your disposal.

1. Use a Longer Bolt

Here we are referring to the issue of the bolt not being long enough for the hole it’s being inserted into. If this is the case, you need to remove the bolt and use a longer bolt. The bolt needs to be long enough so that the nut can be fully threaded onto the end of it, and then some.

There should be a few layers of thread visible on the bolt, under the nut, once the nut has been tightened.

2. Use a Wider Bolt

The issue could also be that the bolt you are using is not wide enough for the hole it is meant to fit into. If the bolt doesn’t fit snugly into the hole, then there is no way for it to grip into that opening. If the bolt is too small for the hole, and there is room for it to wiggle and move, it will keep on spinning no matter what you do.

If this is the case, the only solution is to get a bolt that is of the right diameter for the hole in question. Of course, related to this, you do also need to ensure that the nut being used is of the proper size for the bolt in question.

3. Get Unstripped Bolts or Nuts

A likely cause is of course that the bolt or the nut are stripped, or both at the same time. If either the bolt or nut is stripped, they won’t be able to hold onto each other. If you suspect this to be the case, remove the nut and bolt, and inspect them. If you see that the threads are stripped, then the only option is to replace the damaged component.

There’s not much that you can do to fix a stripped bolt or nut, so replacement is the only real option here.

4. Remove the Stuck Nut (Replace if Necessary)

If the issue is that the nut got stuck on the bolt, then you will have to remove the nut. If you cannot remove it with a wrench, you’ll need to get a nutbreaker. Once the nut has been removed, check to see if the bolt is in good condition, particularly the threads. If the bolt is damaged or stripped, use a new one, and then try again with a new nut.

5. Clean Out the Hole

If the issue is that there is debris in the hole, the solution is to clean the hole. That said, you really don’t want to use moisture here. If this issue is the cause, then blasting out the hole of debris and dust using compressed air is the solution. Just make sure everything is clean and free of debris.

6. Use the Right Tools

Although unlikely, you could just be using the wrong tools, ones that cannot properly grip the bolt and nut for tightening. A good socket wrench, monkey wrench, or a normal adjustable wrench is called for here. Related to this is also the simple fact that you need to be holding the nut on one side while tightening the bolt on the other. Without this, the bolt will naturally keep spinning.

7. Use Thread Locker

If the bolt is being used to keep light things in place, and it doesn’t need to be 100% structurally sound, you could always just use some thread locker adhesive to stop the bolt from spinning.

What Is the Best Way to Tighten a Spinning Bolt?

There is no good answer to this. As you can see, there are six possible causes of a bolt spinning. Therefore, the best way to tighten a spinning bolt is by using the method designed to counteract the specific issue causing the problem in the first place.


The hardest part here is figuring out why the bolt keeps spinning. However, once that has been determined, the solution should follow easily enough.