Picture of How to remove a stuborn nut/bolt
There are MANY ways to remove stuck and stubborn nuts/bolts. I will inform you of a few of the ways I've learned in my experience to get those SOBS (Read as nuts and bolts) free. These methods assume that you do not have access to such luxuries as oxy acetylene and air impact wrenches. Some of the methods can cause damage to your parts or injure you if you do not take proper safety precaution (Read as Don’t be stupid). I am not responsible for any damage or injuries occurring from the use of this information as it is at your own risk. With that aside, I will now refer to our stuck nut/bolt as a bolt from here on out. With that said, let’s begin.

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Step 1: Use Some Muscle

Picture of Use Some Muscle
Step 1. Attempt to use a 6 Point wrench or socket on your seized nut/bolt. Try to rock the bolt by tightening and loosing. This may be all you need to break through the rust. If you can help it, Avoid 12 point wrenches and sockets as they have less grip and are more likely to slip and strip the bolt we are working on. If that fails, Move to step 2.

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Excuse the fact that it is a 12 point =)
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The Oops! happens when the bolt extractor breaks off in the bolt and you now have a piece of hardened steel bolt extractor to drill through.

that is extremely unfortunate :c

surf1div13 months ago

One that will help tons of folks that I don't believe most are aware of and that is EDM. I would use that prior to drilling/tapping and it's VERY economical and even most machine shops aren't aware of (I know- I called around to ask if they had it and they had no clue as what I was talking about)

In addition, one place that I found very reasonable to doing the work in the Los Angleles, CA area ( I have no relationship to this company- just good experience on the three times I've taken them work) is here:

Again, thanks for your suggestions.

David974 months ago

You can grind a nut until it is very thin, but not damaging the thread. And then hit it with a chisel. It will make a dent in the nut, therefor expanding it and allowing it to be undone.

Kris Jacobs4 months ago

Great article, I need to buy a nut splitter.

Two words: Kano Kroil.

It always beats PB Blaster for me!

Razorhelge4 months ago

Thank you for an excellent 'ible.

Personally, I've found out that having an uncle with BOTH oxy acetylene and air impact wrenches, which can be used in tandem obviously, has great effect. Talk to your aunts about this.

BTW I've sometimes found this neat trick to be handy, too, to increase leverage and usefulness of your own force: The "two-wrench trick". Google it.

If it seems like your wrenches are about to break (or if they actually break), well then you know muscle power isn't going to cut it. Kind of a lakmus test, really.

eXraycer4 months ago

I wouldn't recommend using a socket wrench with a lot of force. Especially not a 1/4 or 3/8 drive. The ratchet mechanism really isn't designed to be doing muscle work. Always 'crack it' as they say with a good quality ring spanner then if it comes loose put your socket over it to do the repetitive work. If the ring spanner makes your hand hurt or simply won't budge the bolt or nut then carry on with suggestions made here. Overall this is a very good post. I never heard of a nut splitter before. Looks legit!

ehyofranky5 months ago

I searched for busting a nut, not quite what I was looking for but great write up all the same!

Wezard2 years ago
Nice list and very helpful.

I can only think of one thing that's missing and that is the impact driver. Manual ones aren't expensive and can free up many stuck nuts, bolts and screws. They are particularly useful in places where there is only limited access. I would probably use one after cautiously trying a breaker bar or cheater handle but before the heat treatment.

Compared to a breaker bar they are less likely to mangle heads or break bolts but if the bolt is rusted along it's length then you may also need a breaker bar once the impact driver has started things going and overcome the initial "rust seal"

Powered ones are also available which could be used to spin the nut right off.
pfred2 Wezard1 year ago
Heat cycling is pretty effective for breaking frozen hardware free. Heat the hardware up then rapidly cool it with some more penetrating oil. If the hardware is that rusted odds are I'm going to have to change it anyways. But sometimes I still clean it up, and it is OK. Rust itself is harder and more brittle than parent metal so I try to keep that characteristic in mind as I work on rusted items. My basic method is to shatter the rust. Because I know that once the rust is shattered to dust things should start going more smoothly for me.
trf (author)  Wezard2 years ago
Ive seen those before. Ive never been able to find one unfortunately! Would you happen to know where to find one? They are a nice tool to have! Thank you for the idea!
Any good auto parts store.
Wezard trf2 years ago
In the UK, they are easily available from Halfords among other places, in the US I am not so sure.

I would imagine that somewhere like Sears would stock one, but hopefully a friendly US instructables user will take up the challenge and recommend a local auto store with a helpful owner near you?

There's always Amazon as well if you have time to wait for delivery, just search for manual impact driver.
Abeytj1 year ago
A great way to remove a screw broke below the surface is to keep a nut on top of the broken screw, weld with a thin guage welding rod inserted through the hole of the nut. Now you can turn it out with a wrench. I have used this method frequently with success, especially in cases of stubborn screws made of allow steel. With some practice we learn how to weld the nut to the screw avoiding parent block
pfred22 years ago
You missed my favorite method. I prefer impacts to free up frozen hardware. Either using a pneumatic impact driver, or just hitting a wrench with a hammer repeatedly. Just torque usually leads to shearing hardware off but tapping it can free stuck parts from each other. The most important thing is to have patience. Stuff didn't get stuck overnight so you can hardly expect it to move again right away either. I've actually worked some really stubborn hardware for months before freeing it up. Stuff usually sees things my way eventually though.
I prefer the complete destruction method. That happens when you get so angry that you completely destroy your piece in a fit of rage.
PS1182 years ago
I recently heard that (providing you have one) you can hold an electric engraver tool against the bolt for a few seconds and it will work the surfaces against eachother and it will come right off.

I haven't had a chance to confirm this, but it could be one more option in your bag of tricks.
pfred2 PS1182 years ago
I have an engraver I'll have to give it a try someday. Although I doubt it will work. The engraver hardly shakes the whole world when it runs. I've a fairly decent one too I think. It is a Burgess Vibrocrafter.
Those are nice! I have the VibroMarker. The tip is the hardest material known to man. (well, this man anyway)
trf (author)  PS1182 years ago
That is a very interesting idea! I have never heard of that myself to be honest! I Would love to hear how that works out if you or anyone else gets a chance to try this!
Thanks for the bag of tricks you added to my bag of tricks.
Ongytenes2 years ago
You can always use a nut splitter too. They come as manual and hydraulic versions. The manual version has a bolt you tighten that forces a chisel point into the side of the nut till it splts. Just google nut splitter and you will see images of it.
rimar20002 years ago
Very useful! Thanks for sharing.
derte842 years ago
Nice list!