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Finding a very special screw Answered

This cross stood on our wedding cake 50 years ago. The cross has three parts: the cross itself, the domed base, and the anchor rod that goes down into the cake. A threaded end on the anchor rod passes through the domed base and into the bottom of the cross. My wife gave me the task of finding a screw to attach the base without the anchor rod so she can stand it on a tabletop.

I suspected that the threads are metric because the cross and its parts were made in Germany. Screws at hardware and fastener stores in our good-sized municipality are as small as 4mm, but this is smaller, probably a 3mm screw. I could order half of a dozen on eBay, but they would arrive only days before our guests come for our celebration. If anything did not work, I would be stuck. From photos by eBay vendors I guessed the screw I need is size M3 x 0.5. I poked around on the Internet and learned that M3 x 0.5 screws are frequently used in laptop computers. My laptop has some of those for holding the case together. I borrowed one of them for a couple of weeks until after our guests have gone home. My laptop will not miss the screw for a short time. Keep this in mind if you ever need a screw not available locally. Something you already have may be a suitable short term donor.

Discussions

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Orngrimm

16 days ago

Thats why i have a mason jar FULL of all those screws i have from old Printers (Perfect for a TON of screws as well as many nice motors btw), Laptops, Gadgets, Toys and failed project.
It saved my a$$ many times.

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Phil BOrngrimm

Reply 16 days ago

You are a wise man. I do not have old items to strip of their screws and other useful parts. I did consider contacting places that do computer servicing, but it was easier to borrow a screw for the next couole of weeks.

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OrngrimmPhil B

Reply 13 days ago

I dont know your country, but in switzerland (And quite frankly i think in all europe?) you can bring back electronic devices for recycling for free at every location which sells electronics. If you ask, they often hand out a busted VCR or printer if it is beyond repair or they dont care. And a VCR is a VERY good source for medium- and small-sized screws. If you are after motors (DC and stepper) printer (Ink and laser) are a good source..
I just wanted to give input and motivate to take something defective apart for the sake of taking it apart. And in the same run, you get a ton of nice spare parts... Just save them. ;)

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Phil BOrngrimm

Reply 13 days ago

I am in the United States of America. We do have one large electronics seller with stores across the nation and it accepts old electronic items of all kinds for recycling, regardless of who originally sold the device. I stopped at one of their stores today and asked about screws. They were very helpful, but did not have any M3 x 0.5 screws stripped from anything. We do have the added problem that most screws we see are English sizes, even though many items for sale in our stores are imports from countries where metric sizes are the standard. Thank you for your comment.

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OrngrimmPhil B

Reply 13 days ago

Ah yes. America and its UNC, UNF, Size whatever #turns per inch screws...
Been there, done that, hatet it immediately :)
See, i am a close to professional archer as one can be in switzerland and Bows still have some screws which are imperial sized... After a long search i found out that i need a
#10-24 UNC-screw
Or a Rack screw
Or a 0.19"/24 screw
Or a Tap sized 9-screw
... all seem to be the same... What a mess... WE truly are blessed with the metric system of screws... :)

But nonetheless: Look for items produced in USA to scavenge. I am sure there are plenty of items with imperial screws...

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Phil BOrngrimm

Reply 13 days ago

I can remember a time before our hardware stores had screws in metric. Of course, there were very few items using metric screws at that time, too. There have been faint attempts to shift to metric standards, but a man who taught machine tool usage said it will never happen because there is not enough tool steel to make the switch. About 1980 US produced automobiles began including metric thread fasteners on the car. But, it is also not unusual to find some fasteners are metric and some are English on the same machine. We simply proceed with caution and do not force anything. About ten years ago a friend brought an old shotgun to me. He had just bought it, but the screw retaining the fore stock under the barrel was badly damaged and would not seat fully. A gunsmith had looked at it and told him the thread size was nothing he had ever seen. Finally, I gently turned it inward as far as it would go and tapped the head toward the center of the hole with a hammer. Then it turned inward freely another quarter of a turn. I kept doing that until it appeared undamaged and seated fully. I did do an Instructable about it.

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Yonatan24

15 days ago

Nice. As one with a full-time professional hoarder disease (PhD), I have a bunch of containers full of random bolts and screws. Aside from wood/metal screws and bolts:

Tiny screws and bolts

Random wood screws
Random metal screws

Self drilling screws

Conical head bolts.

Random normal bolts
Long bolts
Long threaded rods


Very useful if I need to find a one of a kind bolt for a specific situation.

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Phil BYonatan24

Reply 15 days ago

I have saved screws and such over the years, but mine are English sizes. I have not stripped screws from anything metric. Thank you.

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Jack A Lopez

16 days ago

Nice work finding that machine screw. Also I think some congratulations are appropriate, for the happy couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary!

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Phil BJack A Lopez

Reply 16 days ago

Thank you. 50 years goes more quickly than one expects. Thank you for looking and commenting. We have a store in town that specializes in only fasteners. When they had nothing in 3mm, I was not sure what I would do. A number 4-40 screw turned in 1.5 turns. That might have worked if no one even breathed on the cross and its base.