Automatic Nut Sorter For A Tidy Workspace

We all have that one drawer or box full of random hardware. You don’t want to get rid of anything because as soon as you do, that’s the one thing you’ll need. But, honestly, you’ll be lucky to find what you need in there, anyway. Enter  [Mr. Innovative’s] nut sorting machine. As you can see in the video below, it will make order out of the chaos, at least for nuts.

You might think the device would need optical recognition software or some other high-tech mechanism. But, in fact, it is nothing more than a motor with a speed controller. The sorting is done by a plastic piece built like stairs. When a nut is too tall to fit under the next step, it slides out into the output hopper. You could probably turn the whole thing with a crank and no electricity at all if you wanted to.

Drilling out the shaft required a bit of machine tool usage, so this might not be a great weekend project without a lathe. Like many of the commenters on the video mentioned, we probably wouldn’t have used a rod holder as a rotating bearing, either, but for as little as something like this would probably operate, it is likely to last a fair amount of time. It would be easy to replace it or even affix a shaft to the motor with a coupler, sidestepping several issues.

Apparently, the device isn’t perfect. You do get some missorts. We imagine that’s from a larger nut pushing a smaller nut on the way to the hopper. The Thingiverse files seem to be missing, but this is something you’d probably adapt to your own design, anyway.

It isn’t as automated, but we’ve seen a gadget that can help sort drill bits, too. Sometimes you want to sort little parts by color, too.

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DIY Insulating Nuts And Bolts

[Rudi Schoenmackers] has devised a clever set of custom 3D-printed jigs that makes it easy to build your own wooden hex nuts and bolts. Well, easy if you have access to a woodworking shop with a router, bandsaw and belt sander.

You won’t be using these to mount your PCBs, however. They are pretty big — UNC 1½-6 threads (the closest metric thread would probably be M36-4). [Rudi] points out that these jigs can be readily adapted to generate different sizes and pitches of threads, even left-handed ones, but we suspect making a #4-40 or M3-0.5 is out of the question. There are commercial jigs for making threads, but as [Rudi] points out, those are quite expensive. The price of [Rudi]’s jigs is quite low, assuming you have a 3D printer.

We’re not sure how to best take advantage of these nuts and bolts in ordinary hacking projects, but [Rudi] enjoys giving them away as cool toys or making large clamps and vises out of them. Let us know if you have any applications where wooden threaded fasteners could come in handy. If wooden threads interest you, then check out this project we covered a few years ago on making simple taps.

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Locking Up Lock Washers

We’ll admit most of us are more comfortable with solder and software than mechanical things. However, between robots, 3D printers, and various other mechanical devices, we sometimes have to dig into springs, belleville washers, and linear actuators. Unless you are a mechanical engineer, you might not realize there’s a lot of nuances to something even as simple as a nut and bolt. How many threads do you need to engage? Do lock washers work? [Engineer Dog] has a post that answers these and many other questions.

The top ten list starts off with something controversial: split ring lock washers don’t work. The original post cites a paper that claims they don’t except in very special circumstances. However, he updated the post later to say that some people disagree with his cited study. In the end, you’ll have to decide, but given there are other options, maybe we’ll start using those more often.

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Nuts And Bolts: Keeping It Tight

It’s not much of a stretch to say that without nuts and bolts, the world would fall apart. Bolted connections are everywhere, from the frame of your DIY 3D printer to the lug nuts holding the wheels on your car. Though the penalty for failure is certainly higher in the latter than in the former, self-loosening of nuts and bolts is rarely a good thing. Engineers have come up with dozens of ways to make sure the world doesn’t fall apart, and some work better than others. Let’s explore a few of these methods and find out what works, what doesn’t work, and in the process maybe we’ll learn a little about how these fascinating fasteners work.

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