Thumb Nuts For Not A Lot

Sometimes it’s the most straightforward of hacks which are also the most satisfying, and so it is that we’d like to draw your attention to [mikeandmertle]’s PVC thumb nuts. They provide a cheap an easy to make way to create thumb-tightenable nuts for your projects.

Starting with a PVC sheet, a series of discs can be cut from it with a hole saw. The hole in the centre of the disc is chosen such that it’s a bit smaller than the required nut, so that it can be pressed into the space with a bolt and a washer. Then a second PVC disc is glued over one side of the first before being sanded to a regular shape, resulting in a captive nut at the centre of a finger-sized and easily turnable handle.

We like this project, and we think that quite a few of you will too. We wonder how much torque it will take, but we’re guessing that a threaded insert could easily be substituted for the nut in more demanding applications. And of course, for more demanding applications you could always try knurling.

11 thoughts on “Thumb Nuts For Not A Lot

  1. “They provide a cheap an easy to make way to create thumb-tightenable nuts for your projects”
    Too much work. Get a crown cork, “drill” with hammer and nail and tap the hole (a self-tapping screw will do). Or just use a wing nut.

  2. Instamorph is really perfect for this use case. Takes a few seconds and super cheap. Requires no power tools or glue or sanding. Just heat some water, drop some pellets, remove and form around nut. Let cool.

  3. I have used this in aluminum too. Drill the hole so small that the corners of the nut are pressed into the aluminum. You can use the drillpress itself to press the nut into the aluminum, or you can use a bolt from the other side to pull the nut in.

  4. I guess you could heat up a suitable file or rasp with a blowtorch, then roll the PVC disc over it to get a knurled edge. If you match the pitch of the file to the disc circumference you might even get it seamless.

  5. Plastic game chips (bingo, poker, etc. ) drill 2 chips for the nut, 2 for the outer caps, sandwich the nut using super glue, done. 160 chips in 4 colors for $10. 35 cents all up.

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