Removing carriage bolts from wood

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I built a picnic table several years ago. It took a hit from the snow plow this winter. It's worth repairing, but I can't undo the carriage bolts. The square part of the bolt head strips the wood when I put a socket on the nut. Next weekend I'll try pounding a screwdriver under the head parallel to the surface of the wood to engage a flat side of the square. What do you experts do? Liz
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Liz Megerle wrote:

I take that to mean the bolt is counter-sunk? If so, how did that happen? I mean whatever you used to counter-sink the bolt should be the same device used to remove it.
If it's a carriage bolt, it has a nut somewhere. Can you attack it from that direction?
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HeyBub wrote:

I believe that Liz is saying that when she turns the nut, the bolt turnes with it and the square under the bolt head reamed out the wood, possibly because the nuts are a bit corroded onto the bolts.
If the nuts are accessable, she could buy a nut cracker and split them so they'll slide off the threaded part of the bolts, then drive the bolts out enough to grab the head and pull. Then buy some new nuts to suit.
Sears sells nutcrackers, and so do most auto parts stores:
http://tinyurl.com/4vbtwt
Good Luck,
Jeff
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Jeffry Wisnia
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Jeff Wisnia wrote:

Since the carriage bolt heads are apparently above the surface given the comment about the screwdriver, the easiest thing to do is to use a hacksaw (or angle grinder with cutoff wheel) and make a slot in the bolt head for the screwdriver.
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Or just use said cutoff wheel to cut the nut end of the bolt off, then drive the stub through with a hammer and punch.
nate
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can you get a narrow enough wheel for an angle grinder? Perhaps a Dremel and cutoff wheel.
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Jim Yanik
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fdc.sbc.com:

cut bolts at nuts if you can, easiest to replace bolts and nuts.
use galvanized or stainless so they dont rust in the future
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.ffdc.sbc.com:
It isn't a 'rust problem'. Carriage bolts in wood that has been exposed to weather will almost invariablyi strip out the wood. The wood has less holding power than it takes to turn the nut. BTDT and got the t-shirt many times.
The 'nutcracker' is about the best and quickest solution.
Harry K
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Jim Yanik wrote:

The cutoff wheels I use in my angle grinder are about 1/16" thick.
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Did that just yesterday while dismantling an old tent trailer. I use a GIANT Dremel tool (Rotozip) with a 1 1/4" cutoff wheel to cut the slot
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I think they are called nut splitters.
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Jim Yanik wrote:

Probably depends upon whom you ask.
The link to the Sears one I posted calls it a "Craftsman Nut Cracker".
Jeff
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Liz,
Get vice-grips. Grab the bolt with the vice-grips and turn the nut off. Be careful not to damage the table but expect to replace the bolts.
Dave M.
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*carriage bolt* heads don't have anything to grab onto.
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Jim,

Sure they do. You can usually get the vice-grips to grab onto the edge of the bolt head. And of course, if there is a threaded end sticking out of the nut you can grab there.
Dave M.
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Every carriage bolt in wood I have seen have been set at least flush if not a bit counteersunk into the wood. There is nothing there to grab. Vice grips on the exposed thread is a possibility but will screw up the threads, might allow unscrewing enough to get the vicegrips onto the head and then force the nut over the screwed up thread portion.
Harry K
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Happens all the time.
Basically, you have to cut off the bolt at the "hex" end.
If a washer was used under the hex nut, you can try a hack saw or a powered version of the same (a "saws all").
The next step down is to drill out the volt from the "hex" end. When the nut gets loose, you drive out the bolt.
The "final answer" is to grind off the hex nut with whatever power grinder you can get in there.
"Sometimes" you can get a nut off with an impact wrench. Or you can "fix" the flush end with glue and after the glue sets try turning the nut again.
Carriage bolts just are not designed for most soft woods. When you torque down, you often bring the head below the surface of the wood. Folks also tend to drill a hole that a little oversized for starts and soft woods simply fail to hold the square all too often.
Where you NEED them because of the nearly flush surface they provide, you might give them a little help with a drop or two of glue.
If you don't NEED them, use regular bolts with good sized washers.
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Coincidentally: Just today took two, well rusted such bolts out in order to reuse a piece of wood. Couldn't shift the nuts; although one started turning around the whole bolt. The nuts, with washers were fortunately not recessed into the wood. The head ends of the coach bolts were virtually flush with the wood. Used a hacksaw to cut into the square nuts at an angle I could reach holding the pieces of wood firmly, until I could split the nuts apart and beat them off with a small cold chisel and hammer. If nuts had been recessed would probably have sharpened up a bigger cold chisel and split the nut with sharp blows of the hammer. One trick is to have something very firm and heavy below; so the force of the blows on the cold chisel cutting edge really impacts the nuts and cuts into them. Bolt threads are rusty as anything but despite the rough treatment breaking the nuts off, one of the two bolts, to our surprise, looks reusable.
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I'm in the Dremel/anglegrinder camp- cut/grind the nut off & drive out the bolt.
But if I was really reaching for a good excuse to buy a wire-feed mig welder [or knew someone with one] I might try tack welding a nut on top of the carriage bolt. Weld inside the nut - don't overheat.
Jim
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I like this idea, and we've got the welder. Nothing like an excuse to play with it. Otherwise, it's grinder time. Of course I countersunk the nuts too. Thanks everyone! Liz
Jim Elbrecht wrote:

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