The Season of Loose Nuts - Popular Woodworking Magazine

The Season of Loose Nuts

 In Chris Schwarz Blog, Sawing Techniques, Saws, Woodworking Blogs

You know that winter has arrived when every handsaw you pick up has loose sawnuts.

This week I’ve been doing a bit of sawing to prepare to talk to the Woodworkers of Central Ohio on Saturday. (If you’re in Columbus, Ohio, this weekend stop by the meeting. Sawmaker Andrew Lunn is going to be there.) And pretty much every saw above my bench has loose sawnuts because the handles have shrunk.

Loose nuts make me nuts. Especially the split nuts, which require a special split driver to tighten them. There are a couple commercial nut drivers available from Lie-Nielsen Toolworks and Tools for Working Wood, but those drivers are not universal. They work best on the saws sold by that company.

To fill in the gaps, I made my own nut driver, and it handles about 90 percent of the saws new and old. Here’s how I did it:

I bought a “Pin-Eez” tool from Ross Tools. This $12.95 device is used to remove hinge pins from doors. And while it works great for that, it can be modified slightly to be a superb nut driver.

The stock Pin-Eez is about 5/8″ wide, which is too wide for most sawnuts for joinery saws. So I took the Pin-Eez to the grinder and ground down the sides until the tip was 7/16″ wide. That’s it.

The Pin-Eez is otherwise perfect for the job of tightening up sawnuts. The tip is already ground to a thin profile, and the recess between the two forks is perfect for avoiding the center bolt. And the steel is excellent , very hard , and it never deforms.

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 8 comments
  • Mike

    In our kit instructions, we mention buying a hex-drive spade bit of the appropriate width. Grind the end flat, file a notch using the edge of a flat file or a small round file, grind the end a bit more tapered to fit into the desired split nut’s slot.

    If one wants to harden the driver after grinding, just heat it and water quench.

    Then using a ubiquitous hex-drive handle, tighten away. I buy spade bits for about $2.50 at Ace.

    Take care, Mike

  • Christopher Schwarz


    I don’t think the inventor of the Pin-Eez meant for the tool to be so well suited for this job, but it really is. The tips are dang tough and taper to almost nothing at the tips. The taper fits most of the split nuts very well without damaging them.

    Really, I found it to be $13 (plus shipping) that was well spent.


  • Alan

    FWIW, Mike Wenzloff will sell split-nuts, and Tools for Working Wood also has them. Johnny Kleso doesn’t make them anymore, AFAIK.

    FYI, I filed one of the driver bits from TFWW, to fit in the split-nuts that Johnny Kleso used to make (I have a few), and the tips will deform, so it is too thin for that steel.

    Your hinge pin tool looks to be a better solution.

  • Christopher Schwarz

    I believe that Lie-Nielsen will sell you some.

    Also, Paul Jordan makes them:

    And I believe Johnny Kleso does as well:

    Just some ideas….


  • CatX

    I’d settle for finding somebody that’s still making/selling split nuts, instead of trying to hack up my own…

  • Alessandro

    I can’t believe that in USA you are not able to find a slotted screwdriver whit the head 12 mm large.
    Do you say that the steel of a screwdriver is too soft?
    Do you want a tool to tight screw or one to break reinforced concrete? 😉

  • Christopher Schwarz


    I have found screwdrivers to be much softer than this tool. Especially the cheap ones. And the blade isn’t 7/16" wide — at least the ones I’ve found.


  • Alessandro

    Why spend $12.95 when you can do the same thing with the cheapest cinese flat screwdriver?
    Moreover it comes already handled…
    Alessandro (sorry in advance for my worst English)

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