Technique: Wooden Nuts & Bolts





Introduction: Technique: Wooden Nuts & Bolts

About: I'm an inventor / maker / designer based in the Bay Area. My background is in residential architecture, film set design, animatronics, media arts, exhibit design, and electronics. I use digital design and fa...

Thought nuts and bolts were strictly made of metal? Nope! Make your own and you're well on your way to fastener-free furniture.

Step 1: Tools & Materials

Step 2: Tap the Nuts

I cut out donut shapes to make the nuts. They are 4" Ø with a centered 1 1/4" hole. The size of the hole is important- 1 1/4" gives you a tight fit for the threads while giving you enough space to fit the tapping tool.

The constancy of the hole is also very important, so I recommend using a forstner bit instead of a paddle bit. A drill press is also essential for getting straight holes.

Here's where the linseed oil comes in: put some on a rag and apply generously to the inside of the hole. This lubricates the tap- you will find it's really hard to get through the hole without the linseed oil.

When you start tapping, it's really important that you make sure the tap tool is flush, otherwise you'll get slanted threading.

There's no need to back in and out the way you would with metal. There are grooves built into the tool that channel out the wood chips.

WARNING: A user in the comment thread below pointed out that a linseed oil-soaked rag can spontaneously combust due to oxidation! Remember to always properly dispose of oily rags, let's not have anyone burning their house down.

Step 3: Die the Bolts

Clamp up the dowel and start the die tool so that it's flush with the top of the dowel. This likewise gives you straight threading which will keep you from getting a slanted table leg, or whatever you plan to use the nuts and bolts for.

It helps to sand a slight chamfer on the end of the dowel you're going to thread- this will make it easier to make a flush thread.

This tool is practically effortless- no need for linseed oil on this one, and no need to back it in and out.

Step 4: Put Stuff Together

I'm playing around with these and thinking of a lot of different applications. The first use is going to be a coffee table.

These things are INCREDIBLY STURDY when you combine them like they're shown in the photo. I also love the fact that a finished piece of furniture made this way can be taken apart and moved, or the parts re-used for something else.

The die cutter component is interchangeable for different sizes (I've seen a range from 1/2" Ø to 2" Ø), so you could really make some cool stuff with a more fleshed out kit.

The red oak is very sturdy (and you can buy them at any hardware store, they're used as clothes hanging racks and hand rails), but the wood's not hard enough to keep the softer veins from breaking out. I'd like to try it with some other wood species and see how well it holds up. I suspect poplar would be much less likely to break out like that.



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    Just what i needed :P

    Jolly Badger, I would use a bigger hole saw if I were you. A band saw works fine, but there's a lot of belt sander clean up after you cut out the rough shape.

    This is really cool! What did you use to cut the 4" nuts? Wondering if I should get a bigger hole saw or just use my jigsaw. Thanks.

    Having just used a thread box to create a large number of threads may I point out that dowel selection is highly important in avoiding tear out. Additionally it is my experience that soaking the timber to be threaded in linseed oil prior to cutting the threads improves the quality of the thread.

    Could you use those smaller sets for metal on wood? My dad bought a set for me for Christmas and I was thinking if I could use those.

    Small price to pay for a tool that opens up endless possibilities!

    Yes they look really nice but it's still wood. what do you use them for?

    This, for example...

    Exactly! It's just begging to be a reconfigurable bookshelf/desk/dresser system.

    I don't think so- it would only crack if the tap were forcing the wood apart, which would only happen if your pilot hole were too small. In any case, there was no cracking whatsoever on the Ash or the Red Oak parts I used.

    sweet. If I hadnt already spent £250 on ikea furniture I'd definaitally be making my own now :D

    Spontaneous combustion!

    This instructable can burn down your house unless you treat a linseed-oil soaked rag as a time bomb - it won't explode, but it can burn all by itself in a few minutes or a few hours (after you're asleep).

    Please edit the instructable to include this warning.

    1 reply

    The danger is the heat produced when the oil is oxidizing(what most would call drying) but after the linseed oil has gone through the chemical process of oxidizing it is safe. This is covered in the linked page but not what to do to avoid the hazard...

    To lessen the risk of starting a fire, spread the linseed oil soaked rag out flat on a fireproof material, like a slab of stone, tiles, etc and let it oxidize - this will keep the temperature down to levels where the rag will not self ignite and the tiles or whatever is not sensitive to the heat induced.

    When the rag is dry to the touch it can be disposed of.

    Very cool! I modular play set made with this would be really awesome, can't wait to see what else you come up with.

    Eucalyptus works for threads, especially the crotch branch part. So does walnut. Probably bec. the grain is so wild. Burl wood might work too. Or maybe purple heart.

    If you cut the hole bigger and the dowel thinner, maybe there will be less wood to cut and less tearing of the threads.

    they used to use fruit woods for bearing blocks and lignum vitae is a *very* hard wood. not just hard, but long and tight grains.

    I agree with dr123, maple is a better choice for wooden threads. Good job on the how to

    Thanks for doing this Instructable. I actually have the same tool set you have. Now you have motivated me to use it again.

    The issue you are having with the Red Oak is the length of its grain. These long strands are very strong in one direction and actually quite weak in another. When you cut across them they catch and grab very easily since that is their strong direction. As they catch on the cutter they are pulled away from their neighbor strands which they have a weaker connection to. This causes chipping and irregular results with the threads.

    Try switching to a Maple or other tight grained hardwood. Your results should be pretty good.

    The linseed oil suggestion sounds pretty good. I will have to try that.