Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.


Tack Welding Structural Nuts

Tack Welding Structural Nuts

Can you tack weld structural nuts?   A325 or A490

I am aware of the AISC note "Anchor bolt material that is quenched and tempered should not be welded or heated".  But does this prohibit the tack welding?  The heat applied is minimal and applied only to the nut.  Does this actually impact the properties of the material?

Obviously this is due to an access problem.  I have seen this done throughout my career.  As you all know there are bolting conditions where there are no other options.  Prior to erection, the nuts are tack welded to the inaccessible inner ply of the connection.  The bolts are then inserted from the outside and "snug" tightened by turning the head.

(technical references are appreciated)

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts


As you suggest, I wouldn't expect small tack welds on A325 or A490 nuts to significantly affect the material properties of the nuts near the threads.  The further the tack is away from the thread, the better, thus probably less affect on large sized nuts, than on small ones.  And, maybe the tack weld shouldn't be at the center of the flats on the nut.  Be sure there is good contact btwn. the plate and bearing surface of the nut before tacking.  I've seen it done too, and didn't disallow it.  But, I often wondered, given the Q&T material and a quick weld, and no preheat, how effective the weld was.  And, if they weren't just causing a crack prone HAZ at the nut surface.  Maybe use a softer filler metal, so the weld is more likely the weaker material.  We do pre and post heat Q&T materials, within restricted limits, for normal welding, so I'll bet the real issue is excessive heating or the arc strike type stress raiser.

I have not read the AISC note on Q&T anchor bolt material, and welding or heating on them, but it doesn't surprise me.  I wonder if it wouldn't be read to mean: any excess heating will likely change the Q&T and thus the mechanical properties; and welding is more likely than not to cause a stress raiser, notch effect, crack starter across the highly stressed rod.

I suspect you won't find any literature or testing specifically approving or rejecting tack welding of nuts; and that you may find a few inspectors who might not allow it.  Maybe AISC , AWS or the RCSC would respond to this question.

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts


RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

Thanks dhengr

I did ask AWS and I am waiting for a response.  I will ask RCSC at out committee meeting in June.  AISC said "it is done, but not recommended".  I was hoping for a more conclusive answer. I like a why or why not kind of answer.  I wonder if any research has been done.

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

O.K.  Why not.

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

Do not even tack weld quenched and tempered bolts. I've seen the results. They snap.
Even the nuts is a problem due, I believe, to sulphur content.
You could try to get weld nuts.  

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

Both the nuts and bolts are heat treated (quenched and tempered) to achieve the required strength and hardness.  When you strike an arc for a tack weld, the localized temperature is extremely high..much higher than the transition temperature of the steel.  This causes a metallurgical change in the material that will either further harden it or anneal it.  Neither is good on a localized basis.  Even with low cycle stress, the potential for cracking is high.

If the electrode happens to stick when first touched to the bolt or nut, the temperature of the whole assembly can rise rapidly.  Further, most welders will "drag" or flare the electrode to prevent such sticking.  Dragging creates an intermittent arc strike, prone to creating localized hardening, thus increasing the crack potential.  Flaring the arc creates a high localized temperature and uncontrollable results on the heat treatment of the bolt or nut.

Further, AISC says don't do it...see the notes in Table 1-C of the AISC 9th edition (p.4-4) "Anchor bolt material that is quenched and tempered (heat treated) should not be welded or heated."

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts


But think of where the "tack weld" is and where the strutural stress actually.

The tack weld is on top of the nut, at the accessible end (visible end) of the bolt (or rod) where that (unstrained) end of the bolt is sticking out of the nut.  Further, the tack (heat-affected zone) is physically located downstream of the nut - that is, past the point where the rod or bolt has been stretched and is holding the load.

The tack only affects a small point (small area) on the outside of one 1/6 of the threads: the whole shaft thickness is not heat-affected, and the area that is deformed (melted + heat-affected-zone around the melted area) is a small part of the threaded area.  

Since the threads being welded are not carrying load, the center of the threaded shaft at the tack is not carrying load, and the top of the nut being tacked is not carrying load, what is the threat?  

The tack is to prevent the nut from coming unthreaded - a greater danger than the local-damage to the bolt threads outside of the load path.

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

In this case none of the bolt or threads are welded.  A wide flange column will be erected against a concrete wall.  The wall blocks access to the column web on the far side.  At the column splice the erector would like to tack weld the nuts (before erection) to the inside of the column flange.  The bolts will then be install from the outside.

In a bearing bolt connection, how much stress is actually in the nut?  No tension, just shear in the bolt.

I have seen this done several times.  But, this time approval is my responsibility.  I was hoping to provide a more solid response than "in my engineering judgement..."

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

A little more information

The welds are not intended to be structural or transfer any force.  Beyond the resistance needed to provide a snug-tight fit of the connection material.  

Another confession, is that I have personally done this tack welding, as a young fitter in a fab shop.  (A little knowledge, and simple instructions) My instructions were to make sure there was enough tack to secure the nut (simple).  The worst case is if the weld breaks before the bolt is tightened.  What is the fix for a "less than snug tight bolt with no access to the nut"?

Mechanics of Solids and Metallurgy came later in my education and career.

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

Why not use a nut that is not heat treated?  It's a bearing connection, so stresses are low and will be concentrated as shear in the bolt.

racookpe1978...while I agree with you, the fact is that if a failure of some type occurred in the future, the fact that this was done will be an might not have anything to do with the failure, but will become a significant red herring if nothing else.

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

You struck my concern on the head.  I DO NOT believe the tack welds will impact the design of the connection.  But, it will become a "red herring" if something happens.  Even if there is no failure in the nuts or bolts.  

I am hoping to find a firm position from which to base my approval.  (maybe this is my conservative nature)

But, I am leaning towards NOT APPROVED, based on lack of information on this specific condition.

(is that hypocritical based on my personal involvement with this procedure in the past)

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

Ron has the best idea of the day.  Since it's a bearing connection do you even need the Q&T nuts?  Probably not, but now there is another issue.  Since you have tacked randomly located nuts (tolerance wise wrt bolt holes), over oversized bolt holes how do you even get a bearing connection until you fail all the tack welds in shear.  And, this leaves a nasty surface for the nut to slide on as the bolt moves to bear on the steel plate/bolt hole.

You will probably still get Q&T bolts, but that should be O.K.  The nuts are applied in the shop under some control as to spec., but the A325 or A490's are all they have on the job site, and you certainly don't want to start mixing bolts out there, or Ron can add another item to his liability list.

Unfortunately, he has the right thinking liability wise too, although I don't like the direction that issue it taking these days.  As he does, I do a fair amount of forensic work, and I spend half my time debunking these kinds of dumb side issues.  I suspect that's why connectegr brought the question up too.

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

There are thin gage stl. locking/holding devices that get tacked to the stl. pl. over the bolt holes, positioned like a washer.  They have two or three ears on them which are bent up the flats of the nut and slightly over the top, to hold the nut in place.

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

I am waiting on a response from AISC and RCSC, but I leaning towards a NO, based on lack of information available.  

I do think this should be addressed specifically by RCSC or AISC.  The fact is, this does happen in structural steel fabrication/erection often.  And in most cases nobody asks for the connection engineer or the EOR's approval.  On the structural drawings these erection issues are not always clear.  So they get address on the fly, as the erection schedule pushes the decision along.  

I plan to bring it up at the RCSC Committee meeting this summer.  

ron & dhengr
concerning the hole diameter and substituting A307 nuts.  The holes are standard for bearing bolts.  Pre-tension for slip-critical connection and oversized holes would create a bigger problem and more questions.  Combining A325 bolts with A307 nuts, is another of the issues that lack supporting information.  

Thanks for all the responses and feedback.

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts


More, more, more information please...

Great solution, but I have never heard of this.

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

These are designed to snap in, and for square nuts, but you can imagine a weldable type for a hex nut.

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

"cage nut" or "floating nut"

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

Not exactly intended for structural applications. But this is definitely moving in the right direction.  

Maybe we need to patent our own version. Similar to a structural washer with wings to hold the nut.  

Thanks for the help.  I will let you know when the money starts rolling in.

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

I know that I've seen such things, but I can't find any pictures on the web.

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

Cage nuts and tab nuts (for welding) are usually not available for high strength applications or for large sizes.

If you want to accomplish the same thing, and assuming you don't have a bezillion of these to do, buy a sacrificial socket of the size to fit the nut....insert the nut in the socket, using a foam spacer if the nut is shallower than the socket.  Weld the socket to the the nut is captive in the socket and will not turn when the bolt is placed and tightened.

You could design a variety of retaining devices for the nut based on similar applications for smaller nuts.

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

Use a pant leg washer.

Tack weld one leg to the base metal, bend the second leg up and then tack it to the nut.

ALWAYS torque the nut and bolt before tack welding: Don't use the tack weld to hot the nut against turning when you are torquing the bolt.

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

If we're just throwing out ideas, I would talk to a machine shop about tapping an appropriately-sized axial hole in a piece of (annealed) 4130 keyed shaft.  Then, I would weld a piece of (easily welded) 1018 keystock to the backside of the beam.  You may also need to add a retaining wire to the tapped "nut" to hold it in place until the bolt is inserted.  

In this case, you have no risk of the load trying to pass through the weld -- an extraordinarily bad idea as stated in other posts above.  As long as you make the "nut" deep enough (and prove it), it shouldn't need to be much thicker than a normally-sized nut.   

Engineering is not the science behind building.  It is the science behind not building.   

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

I understand you need to restrain the blind nut from turning during installation.  However, you need to avoid keeping the nut from translating as the connection settles into place.  The bolt holes allow the connection to move at least 1/16", but if the nut can't move, the connection won't work as designed.  You may end up without proper bearing.

You might weld a nut to a washer, and the washer to the base, giving the system enough movement.

ASTM A563 covers structural nuts, not A325 or A490.  There are 8 grades of nuts under A563, and some may be weldable.  Be aware that the weld will be creating a stress riser in the nut, particularly if the connection is susceptible to fatigue cycling.

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

This is a practice that occurs.  However, I cannot document an acceptable procedure. I agree that the weld must crack for proper bearing to occur.  But will the crack occur in the weld or the HAZ of the nut? I am also aware that there are other structural bolts, such as A307, which are weldable.  But, RCSC does not allow combination of bolts and nuts.    

There are more problems than solutions.  But as I said this procedure is used by fabricators and erectors, when no other solution can be found.  

I have also realized another problem. If the welds must crack to achieve bearing, how does the designer explain the "bolt banging" when the building is in service.  

Thanks for all the responses.  I plan to follow up after the RCSC meeting in June.

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

Could you use the TC bolt, with the head on the blind side? on the viewable side, you would be left with the nut and a short stub of the thread.

If you do weld the nut, I suggest you put a bolt in it and pull it up tight before you weld, take out any space due to high spots.

I was told not to tack high strength nuts by a couple of level threes, they told me that some Q&T nuts cracked open at weld time and some later when the bolt was tightened. Even a tack weld heats and softens the material, it tries to expand but can't because it now has a lower E than the rest of the nut, so it is compressed. When it cools it tries to shrink, causing some considerable moments and forces in the nut.

It is as though you took a steel ring removed a piece and then glued the ends together.

Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

I woke up with a start, in the middle of the night. Why did I say it has a "lower E" when I meant "yield". Sorry about that.

Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

A small weld is the most dangerous kind, which runs counter to the intuition of folks who don't know enough about steel hardenability and think they can get away with it.  I call this the 'sneak up on the steel before it notices anything' theorem.  By the same logic a welder might also unilaterally decide to forego preheat.  

Ferritic fasteners generally have higher carbon content than weldable structural steels, as well some have alloy addition.  This is a recipe for cold cracking.  

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

Why not attach them with an adhesive or epoxy? More than enough strength to hold the nut in place but would yeild much sooner than the steel.

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

When referring to high strength quenched and tempered anchor rod material, what materials are you referring to?
ASTM ?????

RE: Tack Welding Structural Nuts

Think of it from the liability point of view.  In case of an incident the standard or code essentially becomes law, and in this case the AISC clearly prohibits welding.  

Now the technical aspect: a small weld is insignificant in size but constitutes worst-case conditions for hydrogen (or cold) cracking.  Non-welding engineers and some welders with ignorance of hardenability concepts think they 'can get away with this'; these are the same folks who also wouldn't think it necessary to preheat, another no-no.  But it does often get done by impromptu self-certified engineers in the field without benefit of even the back of a napkin to do calculations on.  

If you must tack, use a nut of weldable material (provided it can handle the stresses).  In general, preload and friction and not gimmicks are what keep a nut tight.  

Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members!


Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close