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anyone ever make a rail bolt wrench for stairs?

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Forum topic by SMP posted 07-22-2021 03:22 AM 837 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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SMP

4437 posts in 1064 days


07-22-2021 03:22 AM

i am working on some stairs and getting these rail bolt nuts are a real pain. i can order one on Amazon for $20-30 but will take a week or so to arrive. looks fairly simple to make something that would work. i only need to get like 6 on. any ideas? don’t want these stairs apart for another week. see page 4
https://www.stairsupplies.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/How_to_install_Rail_Bolts.pdf


22 replies so far

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Rich

7092 posts in 1748 days


#1 posted 07-22-2021 04:45 AM

Looks like an ordinary hanger bolt to me. They add their fancy wrench, which from what I can tell is just a convenience, not something you can’t do the job without. You might have to drill a larger hole for a regular wrench.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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SMP

4437 posts in 1064 days


#2 posted 07-22-2021 05:21 AM


Looks like an ordinary hanger bolt to me. They add their fancy wrench, which from what I can tell is just a convenience, not something you can t do the job without. You might have to drill a larger hole for a regular wrench.

- Rich

sorry, maybe i am not explaining the problem right. the holes are there, the hanger bolts are in, and I have wrenches that fit into the holes, and i can tighten and loosen the nuts. what is darn near impossible is getting the nut started onto the hanger bolts through the hole in the wood. there is basically just enough room to balance the nut on the tip of your finger, get it into the hole, then you have to with one finger tip try to get it straight and the threads started. if you look on page 4 of that link, step 11. and it’s supposed to end up like step 14 on page 5.

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Rich

7092 posts in 1748 days


#3 posted 07-22-2021 05:34 AM


sorry, maybe i am not explaining the problem right.

- SMP

Got it. I thought you were starting from scratch. Is it possible to enlarge the hole for the nut to give you more room to maneuver? Is there any way to use hot melt glue or even double-sided tape to hold the nut while you start it?

I’m probably not helping much. Maybe a photo would help you get some better advice.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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SMP

4437 posts in 1064 days


#4 posted 07-22-2021 05:41 AM


sorry, maybe i am not explaining the problem right.

- SMP

Got it. I thought you were starting from scratch. Is it possible to enlarge the hole for the nut to give you more room to maneuver? Is there any way to use hot melt glue or even double-sided tape to hold the nut while you start it?

I m probably not helping much. Maybe a photo would help you get some better advice.

- Rich

you know, a popsicle stick with double sided tape just might work. i’ll try that.

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Axis39

518 posts in 755 days


#5 posted 07-22-2021 05:52 AM

Maybe use some blue tape to hold the nut into one of your wrenches and use it to put the nut in place and get started?

Although, you may not get a lot of rotation…. But, can you get enough?

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

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Rich

7092 posts in 1748 days


#6 posted 07-22-2021 06:06 AM


you know, a popsicle stick with double sided tape just might work. i’ll try that.

- SMP

All you need to do is get it started, right? Can you tighten it with a regular wrench after that?

I can really see the advantage of that wrench they sell though.

Edit: Axis39’s idea might hold the nut more securely. Instead of double-sided, wrap it to the stick with tape and puncture it so the bolt threads in.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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Tony_S

1529 posts in 4241 days


#7 posted 07-22-2021 09:51 AM

The rail wrenches work well, but it isn’t something that most installers buy or use. They all have their own techniques. Some don’t use anything…small fingers. Some use the rail wrench, some make their own. The only really useful thing about the wrench is the part you’re struggling with…the rubber band part is more of a gimmick than anything. Sometimes works, most often doesn’t. Lose or break the rubber band and you’ll never find another one the right size.
The guys that make the nut holder just epoxy a small rare earth magnet(that fits inside the nut) to a thin narrow piece of metal. You can use wood, but you won’t get as much magnetic contact on the nut.
Swearing like a drunken sailor helps a lot as well…

-- “Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” – Plato

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controlfreak

2487 posts in 760 days


#8 posted 07-22-2021 09:55 AM

What works for me is to use plastic film that you would stretch over a food bowl. Place the nut on your finger and push your finger with nut though the film till it breaks through. This creates a little fingertip glove that will hold the nut and is thin enough to allow the threads to run through it.

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Rich

7092 posts in 1748 days


#9 posted 07-22-2021 12:17 PM


The rail wrenches work well, but it isn t something that most installers buy or use.

- Tony_S

I was hoping you’d comment here. If anyone knows stairs…

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View Sylvain's profile

Sylvain

1307 posts in 3658 days


#10 posted 07-22-2021 12:55 PM

could you hold the nut and turn the other part with the bolt?

Would it help to:
- put the bolt on the screw before assembly;
- file the end of the bolt to make a little chamfer around the end;
- unscrew the bolt (that would eliminate any burr from the filing);
then proceed as above.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

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HokieKen

18417 posts in 2297 days


#11 posted 07-22-2021 01:12 PM

I have a pair of needle-noses that have long, very thin arms. They generally work great for holding nuts in awkward spots to get the threads started. They won’t be any help tightening it but they’ll get you going.

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

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SMP

4437 posts in 1064 days


#12 posted 07-22-2021 02:31 PM



Swearing like a drunken sailor helps a lot as well…

- Tony_S

oh trust me, there has been plenty of that. i even tried to roll the rail upside down to let gravity “help” me engage the threads, but instead gravity just made the nut fall behind the bolt where i couldn’t reach.

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Madmark2

2958 posts in 1747 days


#13 posted 07-22-2021 08:30 PM

Put some grease or a magnet on the closed end of a combo wrench to hold the nut in place as you turn the threaded piece.

You could always use a small sanding drum on your drill to enlarge the hole in the direction of the screw. Sounds like the nut hole (sound dirty, doesn’t it?) is just a bit far from where it needs to be. The nut hole position shouldn’t be critical or visible.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

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bandit571

29083 posts in 3842 days


#14 posted 07-22-2021 08:57 PM

Maybe use a Gearwrench Box type of wrench…..And…a thinbladed knife to help out. Use the knife to press the nut onto the threads…then, once the gearwrench starts the nut on it’s way, you can then remove the knife….Once nut is tight, the Gearwrench can be withdrawn the same way it went in…

Nut won’t stay in the box wrench? Use a strip of clear tape…just to cover the “outside” edge of the wrench and the nut….when the bolts comes through the nut, it will remove the tape.

( Tape? Those handy little rolls one uses to wrap presents with)

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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489tad

4020 posts in 4170 days


#15 posted 07-22-2021 09:37 PM

I finished my stairs a while back and was able to use the rubber band on a couple locations. The rest I cut a 3/8 channel from the drilled hole to the end of the rail. Nut and washer in place I just dropped the rail over and tightened. I new spindles were square and fit in the channel. The filler pieces covered the 3/8 channel.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

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