Introduction: Cutting Bolts Without Damaging the Threads
Every once in a while, whatever project you're working on requires a machine screw or bolt that is in between the sizes you have, meaning that you have to cut it to length. Ugh! If you clamp it in a vise, you can damage the threads. If you use a bolt cutter, you leave a double angle end that is difficult to thread into something, and sharp! Well, I came up with a simple way to cut your machine screw or bolt to the right length without damaging the threads. Just follow the steps below.
Step 1: Determine the Correct Length
For the project I was working on, the original machine screw was too short. My choices were a 3/4" or a 1 1/2", but I needed one that was 1" long. What to do?
Step 2: Tools Needed
To cut my machine screw to the right length, I'm going to use some scrap wood and some simple tools. You'll need a saw (hand or power) to cut the scrap wood, a hack saw to cut the machine screw, a drill/driver (corded or battery), pliers and a vise or clamps to hold the wood. Let's get started!
Step 3: Prepping the Wood
I know the length of the machine screw needs to be 1" long, so I measure my piece of scrap wood and cut it at 1". To secure the machine screw, I drill a hole in the face of the wood (NOT the 1" side) using a drill bit that is one size smaller than the machine screw. Time to cut!
Step 4: Get Cuttin'
Mount the wood piece into a vise (or, use clamps if you don't have a vise). Using the drill/driver, slowly drive the machine screw through the drilled hole until the head of the machine screw comes flush with the wood face. Be careful not to drive it deeper, or you'll shorten your cut length.
Step 5: Cut and Done
Using the hack saw (which has a blade meant for cutting metal), hold it flush against the wood and carefully move the saw back and forth, cutting the machine screw. As the metal gets hot from friction, and I want to make a "clean" cut, I hold the screw end with pliers. There you have it! Your machine screw or bolt is now cut to the exact size you need, and the threads are neat and clean!
Alex in NZ made it!
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Maybe I'm just backwards, but I clamp the piece being cut off, where possible, so the thread damage is on the discarded piece :)
And I also spin a nut or two on first to act as a die, to recut the thread after being mauled with a saw.
I have used 2 appropriate sized nuts on the screw that is too long. I tighten them down to stabilize the screw better and put the nuts in a vise and cut off the desired amount. I often will need to dress the cut end of the screw slightly and will use a delicate file or a belt sander depending on the size of the screw/bolt.
Great idea! Often when I have to cut a bolt I will screw on a nut before I cut. When the nut is removed it helps clean up any damage to the threads.