How to Deal With Stuck Bolts and Nuts

If you think it’s just a tad rusty, you are probably right.
rusty bolts

We received quite a number of responses from our recent Spanner Size Chart (Metric-Imperial Equivalents) article.  

We thought one of them – from Andrew M, a qualified tradesman -- is so useful that we’ll share his feedback here for everyone to consider. 


Is the bolt or nut still too tight? 

"Is the bolt still too tight, even when you’re using the right spanner size? The threads might be too rusty.” 

If dealing with either bolt or nut, consider the following: 

  • When undoing tight threads, sockets are superior to spanners and are far less likely to cause damage to the nut or head of the bolt. 
  • Is the thread possibly left-hand? 
  • Try applying WD-40 and leave to soak in. 
  • Use an impact wrench. 

If dealing with a nut, you can also try these: 

  • Heat the nut but not the bolt/shaft. 
  • Remove the nut by carefully splitting the nut using a drill / cold chisel 

If dealing with a bolt: 

  • Heat the bolt and then leave it to cool (before trying to loosen it again) 
  • Just remember that the use of excessive force may damage the threads or cause the bolt material to shear off. Therefore, it may be worth considering calling in a bolt removal specialist before breaking the bolt. 
  • Bolts that resist all non-destructive efforts to free them can be removed destructively by using drilling, EDM or chemical removal techniques. 

Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us, Andrew! 

That leaves us with something to think about the next time we try to loosen a stubborn bolt or nut. 

By the way, if you have something useful to share, please don’t hesitate to let us know -- best to email

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