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Removing seriously rusted bolts? Answered

I picked up this old and weather worn but nice bench at Goodwill.  Made of REAL materials, metal and wood.  No plastic!   The first link below shows the whole bench. 

The slats are deteriorated and if I can't rehab them I will look for a hardwood pallet to repurpose. 

The problem I'm facing is that the 1/4" steel bolts attaching the slats have rusted.  I will replace these with stainless steel bolts, but I first need to remove the rusted bolts, without damaging the frame or further damaging the wood.  The other two links show the two sides of the bolts.  I think these are beyond loosening with WD-40. 

The best I can think of is to grasp the back end of the bolt with a locking plier and drill through the head with a 1/4" bit.  If you know of a better method, I'd like to hear.  

Another question is, once I have this bench rehabed, it will be sitting where it gets exposure to the sun for most of the day. What is the best clear coating that I can apply to preserve the wood under this circumstance?

Screw (front)
Nut (back)


I run into this all the time in repairing old typewriters. For a severely rusted fastener, I soak the bolt it with penetrating oil for sometimes as long as a week, reapplying the penetrating oil each day. Some of the bolts I find rusted in place have not been removed in 70-100 years and are severely rusted. Using penetrating oil over a week's period of time works almost 100% of the time. Don't try to rush the process.


5 years ago

Thanks for the answers everyone. I ordered a nut splitter from Amazon. The nut splitter seems like a nice, very direct method.

I second Burf's answer. Cut off bolt head and bore it out.

hacksaw the bolt & nut out,
apply some wood stain of your choice & several coat's of varnish for further protection


5 years ago

I would use a mechanic's nut cracker but otherwise, to protect the wood from being marred, from the underside cut the bolt off flush with the nut then drill the remaining piece out with a slightly larger, 5/16" or 3/8" drill bit.
Use a good exterior brush-on, UV blocking polyurethane sealer/varnish. Give it several coats according the the manufacturer's recommendations.

+1 but first you can try the old ways:

1. Soak in a propriety penetrating oil for at least 24 hours

2. Try soaking in vinegar

3. Cut the nut with a cutting disc in a dremmel

4. hacksaw the bolt/nut off.

5. Buy the right tool for the job as above.