The goal of this ible is to show you how to use threaded inserts in different types of wood. I will also show you how to do so without buying the specialized insertion driver. Although the special driver is inexpensive, I find that the soft brass often shears when trying to use the insert driver in hard wood, and sometimes in soft wood as well.
Step 1: Material
Normally when you buy insert nuts, the instructions would tell you that you need
What I recommend
Step 2: What Is Normally Recommended: the Problems
After drilling a straight 3/8ths hole (there are tools of varying degrees of fanciness to help make sure it is a perpendicular cut), you then insert the nut. It will sometimes go in a bit crooked, and sometimes that will rectify on its own, but generally you have to push it up a bit. This works very poorly with the insert-driver.
Furthermore, although in very soft wood the insert driver generally works, the nuts sometime strip and create sharp edges. In hard wood, the nuts almost always strip.
Step 3: My Way: the Fixes
Instead of using a 3/8ths, make the hole 1/32th bigger with a 13/32ths bit, especially in hard wood. In soft wood you can get away with the 3/8ths most of the time, especially when you use the bolt technique (see below).
Once the hole is drilled, put the nut on a bolt, and drive the bolt. It is much harder than the brass, and can take the strain much better than that flimsy notch for the insert driver. If you weren't doing a through-the-piece hole, this is where getting a short bolt is important. Not only that, but since the bolt runs through the nut, you have much more control over how it is being inserted, and you can rectify minor deviations caused by wood grain.
If you use the bolt technique in a 3/8ths hole in hard wood, the brass will sometimes compress and flare, and the bolt will be mechanically bonded to the nut. There is no way around using a 13/32ths bit for hard wood.
Step 4: Profit!