Skate hardware has always been a mystery to me. Instead of doing more research, I would buy skate hardware packs, not thinking much about it.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about getting packs, but it doesn’t help you learn.
I wanted to put together this post for those who want to learn more about skate hardware. I’m gonna cover materials, sizing, drive/head types.
But first, if you just want to know the standard sizes, find them below.
Skate Hardware Size
The most common skate hardware sizes are…
Each is linked to Bolt Depot, where I buy hardware. Not affiliated with them.
Before I cover the bolts and nuts, let’s start with…
Should you use 18-8 stainless steel or zinc-plated steel?
One of the main benefits of stainless steel is it’s less likely to rust.
So, why wouldn’t you use stainless steel?
Well, first it’s more expensive. But, when you’re only buying eight bolts, it’s not a big difference.
The main issue with stainless steel is it’s more prone to locking up since it’s a softer material. It’s common for stainless steel nuts to lock up, and the only way to get them off is to cut the bolt.
When you add the chance of the griptape adhesive mixing with the sand grit and sticking to your bolts, the chances are even greater of your hardware seizing up.
This is not to say don’t use stainless steel because if the most important thing for you is its corrosion properties, then what you can do is rub a little soap on the bolt threads. This will combat any nuts seizing up. (Thanks to Gavin for suggesting this technique!)
For most people, using zinc-plated steel bolts with zinc-plated nuts is the way to go. It’ll save you many headaches if you often switch out your setup.
Go for stainless steel if you often ride in wet conditions.
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The bolts hold your trucks onto your deck. For most setups, you’ll use 8 bolts.
The standard bolt size is 10-32. 10 refers to the standardized sizing by ANSI B1, and 32 refers to the thread count. There are 32 threads per inch.
You’ll use bolt sizes in the 1-2″ range for most setups.
But there are exceptions like YOW surfskates use 3/4″ bolts to attach their front adapters. Or if you’re using insanely thick riser pads, you might go beyond 2″.
I’ll do a rough estimate for sizing your bolts. The average 7-ply maple deck is 1/2″ thick, truck baseplates are an additional 1/8″, and the nuts are about 1/4″. So combined, it’s about 7/8″
Typically you want about 1/8″ of the bolt to stick out so the nut’s nylon ring can properly lock to the threads.
To make it easy, we could round it up to an inch. So all you have to do is add 1″ + your riser pad size to get the proper bolt size.
Based on the above measurements, an estimated riser pad/ bolt size guide is below.
It’s always best to properly measure your setup, but this should give you a rough idea.
Now that you know the material and bolt sizing let’s go over…
Bolt Drive Types
The drive type refers to the pattern used on the head of the bolt. It determines what type of tool you’ll use.
For example, you would use a Phillips screwdriver on a Phillips bolt. And an allen/hex key for socket bolts.
Depending on the pattern, it’ll offer less or more torque.
So, which should you choose?
Well, like most of skateboarding, it’s subjective. It’s not the end of the world if you pick one over the other.
But, below are some pros & cons…
Phillips Pros & Cons
- Easier to find a phillips screwdriver
- Higher chance of stripping
- Less torque
Socket Pros & Cons
- Harder to find an allen key
- Lower chance of stripping
- More torque
For most, Phillips head is the best option because it’s easier to find a Phillips screwdriver. Unless you have a bunch of allen keys.
Also, if your deck is properly drilled, you don’t need that much torque to tighten skate hardware.
If you’re someone who somehow always strips hardware, then go for socket bolts.
Countersink vs Button
Another thing to consider is the head types. Most popsicle shape decks are predrilled for countersink bolts.
Although you’d be surprised how many decks use countersink bolts, don’t drill for them.
Countersink heads sit flush while button heads are exposed.
Choosing one or the other depends on your riding style/ how your deck is drilled.
Buttons vs Pan Heads
If you go for buttons over countersink, you should consider pan heads.
Pan heads are similar in shape to buttons but have a lower/wider head profile. However, they can be trickier to find, especially in zinc-plated steel.
Your choice is obvious if your deck is already predrilled for countersink bolts.
If you’re planning on doing any ollies/fliptricks, you’ll want countersink bolts, so they’re flush. Buttons will get in the way if you go to flick your foot.
But if you’re into a style like cruising/surfskating, where you don’t need your bolts to sit flush, then it doesn’t matter.
Unless you ride barefoot, you probably won’t want button heads sticking out.
Now that the bolts are covered, let’s move on to the nuts.
There are three different nut sizes used for skateboards/longboards.
- 10-32 (Baseplates)
- 5/16″ (Wheels)
- 3/8″ (Kingpin)
Besides getting the right size, you’ll want to ensure all nuts have a nylon ring to prevent loosening.
The baseplate nuts are the tiniest and mount the trucks to the deck.
Size: 5/16″- 24
The wheel nuts are the mid-sized nuts that secure the wheels onto the truck axles.
Size: 3/8″- 24
The kingpin nuts are the largest nuts that screw onto the kingpin, securing the bushings.
For 90% of skaters, I’d recommend zinc-plated hardware.
But if you need that extra protection against rust, go for stainless steel. It just requires a little more care.
It all just depends on your riding environment/preference.