Do you have stuck nuts, screws or bolts around the house that are driving you crazy? Check out these great tips for ways to finally (and easily!) loosen those stubborn stuck fasteners.
Heat, oil and tapping will unstick most
nuts and bolts in metal. Apply only
enough heat to cause expansion in the
entire bolt—about a minute or so for the average-size bolt.
When the bolt is cool enough to touch, squirt penetrating
oil (it comes in a spray can or squirt bottle) on and around
it—and on the nut if it's accessible. Be careful, that stuff is flammable.
Tap the end of the bolt a half-dozen times with a hammer
to help loosen the threads and allow the oil to penetrate. Wait
another minute or so for the oil to work, and then use your wrench.
An adjustable wrench isn't the ideal tool for loosening stuck fasteners
because it can round over the head, making matters worse.
But if an adjustable wrench is your only option, here's your best
shot at preserving the shoulders on the nut or bolt head: Slide on
the wrench all the way, so there's full contact at the back of the
jaws. Then tighten the wrench thumbscrew so there's no play at
all in the jaws. Always turn the wrench handle toward the lower
jaw, never away from it.
Be a cheater by slipping a short length of pipe—a cheater bar—over the end of your tool handle. The extra length gives you much
better leverage. Be careful, though, not to use so much force that
you break the tool (voiding the tool warranty) or
break the head off the
shank of the bolt. And remember to wear eye protection.
You'll find that six point
sockets get a
better grip on hex
nuts and bolts than
which are designed to
fit both hex and
If the slot of a roundhead screw or bolt is chewed up beyond hope
of gripping it with a screwdriver, file two flat edges on it. Then turn
the head with an adjustable wrench.
Use a hacksaw to cut a new slot at a right angle to the old one. For
big screws, put two blades in your hacksaw, right next to each
other, and cut a wider slot so you can use a big screwdriver. This
is also a great way to get a grip on the head of a stuck carriage
bolt, which has no slot or flats.
When there's no other solution—when
heat, penetrating oil and wrenches have all
failed—cut off bolt heads or nuts with a
hacksaw, reciprocating saw or a cold
chisel. Some smaller fasteners, especially
rivets and flathead bolts, may be easier to
drill out than to cut.
When a bolt head has become so rounded
that a wrench won't get a bite, use locking
pliers. Get a tight grip: You may have only
two or three chances before the head gets
so rounded that even this won't work. Use
penetrating oil, heat and tapping if it slips
after your first try.
A wrench on a screwdriver blade will help
beat that big screw that won't budge. First
select the largest screwdriver that'll fit, and
tap the butt of the screwdriver handle with a
hammer to loosen the thread bond. Lean your
weight onto the screwdriver to keep it in the slot
as you turn it with the wrench. Careful—too
much torque will bend the screwdriver tip.
A screw extractor could save your day. It will grab just about any
threaded fastener and remove it—even if the head has snapped
off. It usually comes with a hardened drill bit to drill a hole in the
center of your stubborn screw or bolt. Then you turn the extractor
counterclockwise into the hole. Because of its tapered shape and
lefthand thread, the extractor will jam in the hole and then begin
to turn out the screw. Cost: $6 at hardware stores and home centers.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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