What is a Sex Bolt?

A sex bolt, also known as a barrel nut or Chicago bolt, is a specialized fastener designed to connect two parts, often in furniture or architecture, without needing a nut. It comprises a male screw and a female barrel that fit together seamlessly. Intrigued? Discover how sex bolts can revolutionize your next DIY project or repair.
B. Turner
B. Turner

A sex bolt is a type of specialty fastener used in place of traditional nails or screws. These bolts are considered a form of mating fastener, which means they include both a male and female component. The male portion of the sex bolt features external threads, much like a standard screw. This portion is designed to work in conjunction with a female barrel, which features internal threading. These fasteners may also be known as barrel or Chicago bolts.

The two components of the sex bolt are designed to fit into either side of an object. For example, in an application where a sign was being fastened to a piece of plywood, the male component may be inserted into the front of the sign while the female end was inserted from the back of the plywood. As the male end fits into the female barrel, the threads would align so that the units could be screwed together.

The nyloc nut uses nylon in the collar insert.
The nyloc nut uses nylon in the collar insert.

Sex bolts come in a variety of designs to suit the needs of different projects. Standard units are designed for general-purpose use in wood, metal, or plastics. Architectural sex bolts feature a textured barrel so that the bolt can be installed from only one side of the opening. After the barrel is fit into a pre-drilled hole, the textured exterior surface holds it in place so the male component can be screwed in place. Special binding bolts, or screw posts, are miniature sex bolts designed for binding paper or books.

Slotted screw drivers should work with most sex bolts.
Slotted screw drivers should work with most sex bolts.

One of the primary advantages to using a sex bolt is its relatively low profile compared to standard nut and bolt combinations. The heads of the male and female portions of the sex bolt sit flush with the surrounding surface to create an attractive finish. These bolts also provide a higher level of security than many other types of fasteners, and can be used in applications where standard screws would be ineffective. For example, a sex bolt is often used to install hardware in a hollow door. In this type of application, nails and screws would be unable to hold the hardware in place for any period of time.

When choosing a sex bolt, installers can select from a variety of head designs. Most sex bolts feature a traditional Phillips or slotted head for use with a drill or screwdriver. High-security models may feature a one-way head design that requires a specialty drill bit to remove. Buyers must also consider factors like barrel length and diameter to ensure the bolt will operate as needed for each project.

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Discussion Comments


@Scrbblechick -- Let me laugh out loud at that last sentence! I thought the same thing. My DIY hubby was discussing an in-depth project with our neighbor and that term came up. I nearly died laughing when I heard it because I had a very different mental image, too!

I looked it up for an explanation and found this article and your post and was glad I wasn't the only one with a gutter mind.


This is one of those names that sounds completely different from the actual object in question.

I can see where these would be useful, though. They do seem to be able to handle heavier weights and would be a sturdy fastening for nearly any project. They just have a name that seems more apropos for a chastity belt.

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    • The nyloc nut uses nylon in the collar insert.
      The nyloc nut uses nylon in the collar insert.
    • Slotted screw drivers should work with most sex bolts.
      By: micahbowerbank
      Slotted screw drivers should work with most sex bolts.