Introduction: How to Remove a Stuck Nut (without Stripping Threading)

Picture of How to Remove a Stuck Nut (without Stripping Threading)

If you saw my Instructable on How to make a wooden 6" bench-vise, you'd know that I recently stumbled across a pretty big collection of threaded rods. The only problem was that some of them had hex-nuts that were stuck, and I wasn't able to un-screw them.

Now of course I could grab one end with my locking pliers, and twist the hex-nut off, but that would result in ruined threads...

This "Quickie Instructable" will show the method that I came up with. It's really simple, doesn't require any fancy tools like propane torches and impact drivers, works for all types of nuts, bolts, screws, threaded rods, and more...

You'll need 2 more hex-nuts, 2 locking pliers, a spray lubricant, a vise, and less than 5 minutes to do this.

Let's get started!

EDIT: I've made a video! You can watch by clicking on "How to Remove a Stuck Nut (without Stripping Threading)" if you're on mobile.

Step 1: Lubricate the Hex-nut

Picture of Lubricate the Hex-nut

The nut is probably stuck because of rust, so spraying it with some kind of lubricant would help release it. I recommend either WD-40 or PTFE, but grease or vaseline might also work.

Step 2: Add 2 More Hex-nuts, & Tighten

Picture of Add 2 More Hex-nuts, & Tighten

I screwed on two hex-nuts on the other side of the threaded rod, and tightened them together with pliers. This needs to be tight, but there is no need to overtighten. See the pictures for more information.

Step 3: Clamp the Hex-nuts in a Vise, & Remove the Nut

Picture of Clamp the Hex-nuts in a Vise, & Remove the Nut

I clamped both hex-nuts in my vise, as shown in picture 1. Now, guess what? I clamped my big locking pliers onto the nut, and turned. The more force you apply, the stronger the force which stops the hex-nuts that are clamped in the vise from moving. I used a vise, but you can also use locking pliers, which work just a well

Tadaa! You've removed the hex-nut. But wait... Almost done!

Step 4: Unscrew Both Hex-nuts

Picture of Unscrew Both Hex-nuts

All you have to do now, is to unscrew the two hex-nuts that were screwed on in step 2. You can see the second picture to see how that's done.

Hooray! You've now got yourself a free threaded rod! All I have to do now is remove the rust, and build myself another wooden vise ;)

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I read and reply ALL comments, so make sure to leave your suggestions, upgrades and improvements, and any other ideas in the comments below!


Yonatan24 (author)2016-09-01

I'm trying to make this title have the best, and most accurate title... HELP!

"How to Unscrew a Nut that's Stuck on a Bolt (without ruining threads)" is a bit long. I'd like to shorten it, and make it better

If you were repairing something in your house, and failed at releasing a nut that's stuck on a bolt, what words would you type in Google's search bar if you wanted to find an answer? I would really appreciate it if you reply to this comment with those words. (Ex: "How to release a stuck nut", "How to remove bolt from screw")

CPUDOCTHE1. (author)Yonatan242016-09-13

This has a lot more to do with how to hold a threaded rod without destroying the threads than it has to do with removing a stuck nut. This is only ONE instance of a stuck nut. I found this instruct-able and was severely disappointed. A more responsible title would be "Securely holding a threaded rod". The only decent rust penetrating "oil" is Kroil. Also, when you clamp the locked nuts in the vice, ONLY clamp the one towards the nut you are trying to remove. If you notice in your picture, the flats on the two nuts are not aligned. When you clamp both, you can either loosen or overtighten the locking nuts. By holding the inside nut, it self tightens itself against the other nut.

Yonatan24 (author)CPUDOCTHE1.2016-09-14

I'm sorry to hear this isn't what you were looking for and you were disappointed, but what I did here is what the title/thumbnail says.

I've never heard of Kroil, but when I Google it, I see that it's also known as penetrating fluid/very low-viscosity oil. I'm pretty sure that that isn't the only one...

I'm not sure why you're saying that they aren't aligned. If you don't use a washer (as someone suggested), they need to be slightly not aligned. However... However... I do agree with what you said, by clamping the inside nut. Agreed!

Can you please tell me from what you were disappointed?

I think you might like this Instructable (not mine):

traebramlett (author)Yonatan242016-09-12

Easy way to remove stuck nut.

craneman (author)Yonatan242016-09-12

Best title: Rusted Nuts

Mark 42 (author)Yonatan242016-09-12

How to get your nuts unstuck.

Or just "Deez Nuts!"

Yonatan24 (author)Yonatan242016-09-12


Thank you so much to everyone that helped! I've changed it to "How to Remove a Stuck Nut (without stripping threading)" instead of "How to Unscrew a Nut that's Stuck on a Bolt (without ruining threads)"

uneektalent (author)Yonatan242016-09-11

"Remove A Stuck Nut" will put you at or near the top of the search results.

Yonatan24 (author)uneektalent2016-09-12

Thanks! I'l see what everyione else wrote, and see if this is better :)

GaryW47 (author)Yonatan242016-09-11

How to release your nuts when screwing.

GaryW47 (author)GaryW472016-09-11

Use penetration oil

f5mando (author)GaryW472016-09-11

LMAO! Cheers, GaryW47!

Yonatan24 (author)Yonatan242016-09-01

You know what? This makes no sense. I should change the title to threaded rod...

Captain Kay (author)Yonatan242016-09-11

uneektalent has a good title, as this process could be used on bolts and rods and so forth.

I have used that technique for more than 25 years, is excellent...

But good that you are showing to the people to learn this way to remove a stuck nut... Great!!!

Dwargh (author)2017-01-05

a short video of how to do that would be very nice! :)

Yonatan24 (author)Dwargh2017-01-05

I made this I'ble before opening my YouTube channel... I might make a video in the future though!

Yonatan24 (author)Yonatan242017-03-12

The video is still on my list, but here is a video that might help:

See what John did at 3:53

Joedproctor (author)2017-02-08

Great Instructable! I've never thought of doing it this way. I
usually strip the thread, curse a bunch, then curse a bit more. My father is a
mechanic at a power plant and has told me if you take a can of canned air (the
stuff you clean your keyboard with), turn it upside down and blast it, the nut
will slightly increase...just enough to get that stubborn son of a, nut

Keep doing great

Yonatan24 (author)Joedproctor2017-02-08


I guess that if you heat it up, and then cool it down a few times, it might help if it gets really stuck. I believe the opposite can also be done to bearings too...

Rseery (author)2017-01-19

Buy a can of Kano Silikroil and you will never waste time on another rusty fastener.

russ_hensel (author)2016-09-01

Just in time to be added to the collection: Difficult Dis-assembly: Taking Things Apart for Repair


There are a lot of things that are hard to take apart and lot of methods.

Yonatan24 (author)russ_hensel2016-09-01

Thank you, I hope more people find it useful this way :)

dfpotter (author)Yonatan242016-09-11

WOW what a group of mechanical brain surgeons we all are here. May I suggest we quit playing with ourselves, I mean it's a few cents worth of threaded rod. I would dare say If you each gave the nut removal project to a 8 year old kid it would be completed in good order and a usable condition. Now go use that Vaseline for what god intended it to be used for. LMFAO I sure this passes the nice policy, It's only a joke just like the thread.

PattyP17 (author)dfpotter2016-09-16

Please don't be so dismissive of another person's attempt to help others so lightly. If it doesn't apply to you, just move on. For purposes of taking pictures for the instructable, he used theraded rod not attached to anything. There are many situations where one is on a farm, out away from a convenient place or just in an attic, under a trailer, or some other difficult situation where the rod is part of a larger structure or device and the nut must come off. It's not about saving a few cents to keep a rod for future use, although that can work for recycle-smart people too. It's far more about how to service or repair something larger that needs to be handled. There are many structures or devices that get nuts rusted in place. My husband just had to remove the deck on the old riding lawnmower and it was none too easy. Sometimes, getting a nut off is the only way to start a repair that must get done and it can be a challenge. If ones has the info under one's belt beforehand, it is easier to quickly handle a problem when it does come along. It means mowing the yard today, not next week.

Yonatan24 (author)PattyP172016-09-17


Yonatan24 (author)dfpotter2016-09-12


I found it for free, but that threaded rod is worth to me about $15. I can make 2-3 wooden bar-clamps with it.

jayb1 (author)Yonatan242016-09-16

Best place to find Threaded Rod. In the Dumpster outside of a newly constructed house. Lot's of other goodies there too. Electrical bits. PVC Pipe, Timber, Particle Board, Bricks & leftover Paint. Ask first & they'll say go for it.

Yonatan24 (author)jayb12016-09-17

I didn't know that. Thanks!

Do you know what they do they use the threaded rod?

UncleEd (author)dfpotter2016-09-11

I used to think the way you are in the first few sentences. If you're right next to the store that sells the threaded rod, you can do it. Problems come (1) when the store that has the rod is miles away or the size you need is not available that day and time is an issue or (2) when the threaded rod/bolt/whatever is a part of something valuable that you can't replace in quickly or cheaply.

If you get ten mechanics over 40 years old, you can probably get thirty ideas about the best penetrating oil. The "best" only counts when you're at the store buying it. Otherwise, the best is what you have or can find on short notice. When the can is missing or empty, 10 weight oil mixed with kerosene works pretty well. Or oil mixed with diesel fuel. Or mixed with gasoline, if sparks and fires are not nearby. Or kerosene or diesel fuel alone, if there isn't any oil handy.

And you can get a few drops of oil from wiping off the dipstick with your finger. Depends on how desperate you are.


PattyP17 (author)UncleEd2016-09-16

@ UncleEd - exactly!

Yonatan24 (author)UncleEd2016-09-12

For me, best is free, what I have, or very cheap :)

NitroRustlerDriver (author)2016-09-11

Machinist's Workshop did a penetrating oil comparison and found that a 50/50 mix of acetone and ATF work WAY better than any other off the shelf product. Check it out.

What's ATF? I looked it up and got "Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms." That ain't it, right?

gerflash (author)gerflash2016-09-11

OK: Automatic transmission fluid.

jayb1 (author)gerflash2016-09-11

Oh, you mean "Canola oil." Same, same, but different. Canola Oil used to be Auto trans Oil before the Synthetics took over. It used to be marked "Not for human consumption" too. ;-)

PattyP17 (author)jayb12016-09-16

Don't get me started on canola oil, sigh! Biggest lie in the health food industry. The name is shortened from "Canada oil". It comes from a plant named "rapeseed". The seeds boiled in water and drunk as a tea aborts unwanted babies, according the back woods herbalists of the past. The plant grows profusely and wild all over Canada, and someone figured out a way to create a lie about how healthy it was so it could be harvested and sold for big money. Before I even knew where it came from, I'd gag each time I ate anything containing it and couldn't figure out why. I think it probably makes great engine oil. Not so much for the body. But I digress form the main topic.

That's GREAT info! I've un-seized a stuck piston with AFT, but never thought of mixing in acetone. Thanks!

I've read this elsewhere as well. Though that's the only quantified study I've seen.

Heat still works better, assuming that's an option. Nothing beats an oxy-acetylene torch, propane works as well.

what is ATF?

Automatic transmission fluid.

Joe-Y (author)2016-09-15

Done it this many times myself, but using thinner fluids works better. Tranny oil or liquid wrench. Let it soak in it for a while. Heating the nut works too along with this.

PattyP17 (author)2016-09-11

"Loosen a Rusted Nut"

"Remove a Stuck Nut"

"Stuck Nut"

Longish advice on Google searches:
Anyone who works with nuts, bolts, etc. knows that a nut goes on a threaded item, so no need to include that in the title. The main thing they want to is to get the nut loosened so it can then be removed or adjusted. I have better success using Google than anyone I personally know simply because I'm great at figuring out the best search words for even quite obscure subjects. The shortest and most simple words, yet specific to the subject, give the most possible results, and look for the very heart of what the searcher wants. I think "Stuck Nut" or "Stuck Bolt" in a Google search would work better rather than anything longer. The more words added to a search means less results, the less chance a person will find your particular instructions. Google ignores "and", "the", "a", etc. - simple short words that are commonly used. Most people search for either the name of the problem, or the name of the solution.

Google searches find not only titles but text anywhere on a page, so it doesn't necessarily need to be in the title, but a short title with the name of the problem or solution will help a searcher recognize quickly they have found the right page for help. If I Googled "stuck nut" and kept getting pictures/articles of a squirrel with nuts stuck in his jaw, or how to get the last of some peanut butter out of a jar (not real scenarios, just an example of how searches go awry), I would just add the word "lubricant" or some other word for something specific to the subject, like "bolt" or thread". Yes, maybe "threaded" describes the item better, but leaving off the "-ed" gives more results. You have to think with the moist common words other people would use for the problem, using the least number of words.

Good luck!

Yonatan24 (author)PattyP172016-09-12

Interesting... So are you saying that less keywords is better?

That's exactly what I do - I try thinking what other words people would use for searching for something: American/British/Australian English...

For example, I put "clamp" as one of the keywords in my homemade vise Instructable, since it's pretty similar.

I know that the shorter that title, the better, but are less keywords also better?

PattyP17 (author)Yonatan242016-09-13

I guess I meant search words when one is searching on Google. Keywords (my understanding at least) are words that search engines find can be hidden in a page, not necessarily even showing up as text on a screen). If you just mean a good title that will show up on your physical page when a person searches, you want it to make sense to a reader at first glance, and you want Google to recognize the main words included.

I am approaching this from the viewpoint of a person searching on Google, which is something I do often every day. If I am looking to identify a flowering "vine" to ID a plant on the site iNaturalist for another user, the fact that people create short videos named "vines" means I have to adjust my search words, by using terms (like "plant") that won't result in getting the wrong results. So it's a balance between short and specific. Sometimes it takes an intuitive leap to find the right search terms. Google does tend to ignore some of one's search words from time to time if it decides there are too many. If I want to find a picture of a "freshwater pumpkin-breasted sunfish in the southern United States", I would choose to use only "pumpkin sunfish" or I might end up with a bunch of pictures of pumpkins (I didn't in this particular search). "Pumpkin fish" will give you a lot of pictures of pumpkins carved into fish shapes. So Google pays attention well to two words, and ever so often hardly pays attention to six, but it's unpredictable. It varies

As far as searching, the rule of thumb, is be specific as you want to be with search words and test them to see what you get. Eliminate those that cause strange results.

But as far as titles (if that's what you mean) for Google to find, a short clear title will work better than one with ten to twelve words for Google to find.

I sew and the titles "Elastic Tutorial" or "How to Sew Elastic on Anything" works better than "How to Sew elastic in Swimsuits, Underwear, Pajamas, Dresses, Sheets, Shower Caps, and Everything Else You Can Imagine". Google will likely show me pajamas with an elastic waist, and other household items with elastic in them, plus elastic for using in those items, rather than the tutorial I am looking for.

I hope that all makes sense. It's a balance.

Yonatan24 (author)PattyP172016-09-14

I see... That's also what I explained to the author of this Instructable:

sbellis (author)Yonatan242016-09-12

How sbout using the words, "Loosen a nut" as a keyword phrase?

rbeech1 (author)2016-09-12

Don't use WD-40. WD stands for water displacement and that is about all it is good for. Use PB-Blaster. Can be found in most auto parts stores. It was developed for the potassium mining industry here in Florida.

About This Instructable




Bio: 15 year old, sick with a deadly disease called DIY-itis!
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