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Tightening a nut without causing the bolt head to just spin freely. How?!

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by _MementoMori_, Mar 4, 2021.

  1. _MementoMori_

    _MementoMori_ Tele-Afflicted

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    I recently got a great deal on a reclaimed wood dining table that has an angled "H" base attached via 8 bolts and nuts. The bolt heads are decorative and sort of a flat dome shape, which gives me no surface to grab onto while I tighten the nuts. As a result, this thing is assembled with loose, hand-tightened nuts at the moment. It seems to be holding, but it makes me nervous.

    Is there some crazy old woodworking/carpentry trick to tighten nuts in this scenario? I've already tried grabbing the edge of the bolt with pliers, but it mars the finish on the bolt (they're blackened) and the pliers let go once the nut tightens enough to pull the bolt in fairly flush with the table leg.
     
  2. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Do the bolts have a square shank similar to a carriage bolt? If they do you should be able to pull on the nut as you tighten and the bolt will hold into the wood. If this has been taken apart a few times and the holes are worn you might need to dowel pin the holes and re-drill. Then you tap the bolt into the clean hole so that it grabs. They also sell a small metal item called (screw-mate I think) that will help hold the bolt in the hole.
     
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  3. _MementoMori_

    _MementoMori_ Tele-Afflicted

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    They do have the square shank, and it's exactly as you say. The corresponding square area inside the bolt hole is worn and no longer holding. I'll check into the Screw-Mate, thanks!
     
  4. _MementoMori_

    _MementoMori_ Tele-Afflicted

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    Just had an idea - tell me if it's dumb. What if I squirt some Titebond into the bolt holes and then stick the bolts through the hole and wait for the Titebond to set. Do you think that would provide enough rigidity for me to torque down on the nut? If I ever need to disassemble the table, I'm sure I can strongarm the Titebond into submission.
     
  5. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Why don't you just try wrapping a little masking tape or something similar around the bolt head? See if that does the trick before you go gluing it together.
     
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  6. _MementoMori_

    _MementoMori_ Tele-Afflicted

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    Can't hurt to try! I'll report back.
     
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  7. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    It won't cost much to try it. But you still won't be able to torque it much. Epoxy or urethane glue might be a better choice, but messier.

    You could shop for larger bolts or a better solution.
     
  8. Urshurak776

    Urshurak776 Tele-Afflicted

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    I would do the earlier suggestion of a dowel and re-drill. That's the right way to do it.
     
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  9. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Damnable hard to drill a square hole.
    I'd jam a few 3/32" double terminated white birch dowels (that's what you call them if you're charging for them; otherwise, they're toothpicks) in there to hold the square on the bolt.
     
  10. _MementoMori_

    _MementoMori_ Tele-Afflicted

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    No luck on the tape. It twisted it right off. Then I tried to shim the holes with wood skewers - no luck on that either. I really don't have the time or energy to plug and redrill this, so I guess I'm living with it as is. The weight of the 1.5" thick wood top is bearing down on the legs and bolts and holding everything in place. I just obsess over things like this and want it right.
     
  11. _MementoMori_

    _MementoMori_ Tele-Afflicted

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    I think this is the answer too. I tried it with wood skewers, but they're larger in diameter than toothpicks. I'll run to the store later and get some.
     
  12. Alamo

    Alamo Doctor of Teleocity

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    Got a pic? not sure if I'm getting at the problem, but..
    For a good grip you need the right tool. Knipex Cobra won't let go. ;)
    against marring, use a strip of rubber tubing or leather.

     
  13. _MementoMori_

    _MementoMori_ Tele-Afflicted

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    I tried to attach a pic, but I guess I'm too dumb to do that. Google "mushroom head bolt" and you'll see why I'm having a problem. There's literally nowhere to grab it from.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Urshurak776

    Urshurak776 Tele-Afflicted

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    Drill out and shoulder with a chisel.
     
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  15. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    .....
     
  16. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    I think I dont understand, but can't you just put a star washer under the nut or under the bolt head? Whichever you cant hold...
     
  17. Alamo

    Alamo Doctor of Teleocity

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    1-IMG_20210304_170309.jpg
     
  18. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    If the bolts have the little square shank under the head like a carriage bolt, do the following:

    Measure the diameter of the hole the bolt is in. Get a hardwood dowel that matches or is just a wee bit larger than the diameter.

    Cut a 1/2" length off the dowel and use a file to add a small chamfer to one end (this helps it go in), like this:

    [​IMG]


    Use a Qtip to run a drop or two of wood glue around the inside of the hole. Place the little dowel plug in the hole, chamfer-end down, and tap it in so the plug is flush with the surface.

    Allow the glue to set up for about 30 minutes, and then drill a hole through the center of the plug so the threaded portion of the bolt just barely slips through. The hole you drill will be too small for the square shank to slip in, but when you install the washer and nut at the other end, tightening the nut will draw the square shank into the plug, preventing the bolt from rotating.

    If the bolts are just long enough to accept the nut but the square shank prevents the threads from protruding and you can't start the nut on the bolt, you can use (1) a mallet or (2) a block of wood on the bolt head and a hammer to tap the head of the bolt to seat it so the square shank forms a matching recess in the plug.

    This repair will be completely invisible.

    If the nuts go onto the threads with a lot of effort, you can "chase" the threads on the bolt with the appropriate (diameter and TPI) thread-cutting die to restore them for smooth assembly.
     
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  19. Telekarster

    Telekarster Tele-Afflicted

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    Not sure if this would work or not but, how about a shoe lace pulled tightly around the space between the bolt head and the wood, holding the bolt with enough pressure to keep it from spinning? Then you can crank it down, perhaps, and squish the shoe lace (or leather strip?), and cut off the excess with a razor or knife once it's tight? Just throwing out an idea in my head. Good luck!
     
  20. PhoenixBill

    PhoenixBill Tele-Meister

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    Are any of the threads exposed beyond (outside) the nut? Enough to get a pair of Vise-Grips in them? Not optimum, it would mess up the exposed threads, but hey...

    Or could you shoot a whole bunch of superglue around the carriage bolt head (don’t let it get close to the nut or you’re going to be totally stuck) and thus glue it to the wood, enough to let you tighten the nut until the clamping force holds the bolt to the wood. Caution though: have some acetone (also found in some fingernail polish remover) handy in case you glue your fingers to the bolt or table.

    Lastly, can you unscrew the nut? Then clean off the threads to the bolt, and maybe get a new nut if necessary, to be able to run the nut all the way down. Also make sure the nut hasn’t run out of threads and is up against the shank of the bolt (adding a washer or two could help).
     
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