In Basics, Techniques

We may receive a commission when you use our affiliate links. However, this does not impact our recommendations.

AW81Aug00 Q&AQ:

I made a jig that needed threaded inserts but I had one heck of a time installing them by hand. They went in cockeyed and I trashed their slots.What am I doing wrong?


The most common kind of threaded insert is the straight brass barrel with thin outside threads and a single slot. A better one has wide threads, a hex wrench slot and is tapered to guide into the hole straighter. The most foolproof way to install both threaded inserts is to use an unplugged drill press and a bolt to support the insert. The drill press keeps the insert square to your board.

Here’s how to install them:

PWE141228_QA231. Drill a hole of the recommended size (see package) into your piece of wood.

2.Unplug your drill press.

3. Cut off the head of a bolt with the same thread as the insert and grip it in your chuck.

4. Spin a nut, washer and insert onto the bolt.Turn the insert and the nut together, as tight as you can, by hand.

5.Center the hole directly under the insert and clamp the piece down to the drill press table. Advance the insert into the hole until it just contacts.Turn the chuck slowly,by hand, to advance the insert into the wood. Keep turning the chuck until the insert is fully engaged.

6. Back off the nut using a wrench. Reverse the spin of the chuck.The bolt will spin right out.The top of the inset may be a bit proud of the face. You can drive it below with a hex wrench or use a fine file to level it off.

If you don’t have a drill press, don’t worry, you can turn the inserts in by hand. Getting them started is the hard part, so be sure to use the tapered style insert.Drive in the insert using a hex wrench.Check with a small square to make sure it’s going in straight.

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

Recent Posts
Showing 3 comments
  • WyattGuy


  • jigsawjohn

    If your project is to large to put up to your drill press. You can use a vee block standing on end, put two inserts and a nut on a long bolt, allow them to contact two inside surfaces of the vee block, and turn one of them in with your wrench. the reason for putting on two inserts is to gain more contact in the vee block.

  • amoscalie

    After trying to install threaded inserts by just drilling the pilot hole and using the useless screwdriver slot, I read about this technique a few years ago and it is the only way that I put in these inserts. For under 50 cents you can buy the bolt and nut(s) to make yourself a jig that really works. You can buy jigs for about $10, but you can make your own in 15 minutes or less. The only different thing I do is “double nut” the threads and I can generally just use my hand to turn the drill chuck,, but either way, this is still the absolutely best way to install threaded inserts.


Start typing and press Enter to search