T-Nuts in Zinc Plated Steel
T nuts, commonly called tee nuts and blind nuts, are used in wood, composite, particle or other soft materials. Made from an internal threaded barrel and flange, t nuts have small prongs (usually 3 or 4) that dig into the soft installation surface. They can sometimes be serrated to provide a better grip. The prongs of a tee nut act as hooks to hold the nut to the surface leaving a flush face on the nut side, as long as the bolt is the right length.
Installing a T Nut
Installing a T nut is a simple process. First, a drill bit that is just wider than the diameter of the barrel of the blind nut is used to drill a hole in the soft material. Next, the nut can be either pushed or lightly tapped with a hammer, so the prongs begin to dig into the material. Then, feed the bolt through the other side and thread it into the t nut. Finally, tighten the bolt. As the bolt is being tightened, the nut will be pulled into the soft material until flush against the material surface.
Benefits of T Nuts
A tee nut and bolt will provide better retention in wood over time then wood screws will. Due to the nature of the prongs, they are unlikely to vibrate loose. Although the bolt may loosen over time due to vibrations, simply revisiting and tightening the bolt will retighten the nut anyway. Since the small prongs are what digs into the material, the material is less likely to split or crack.
While t nuts are available in many varieties the most common come with three or four prongs. Four prongs are excellent for soft materials while the three prongs are preferred in harder woods. If a screw fails and is removed but the threading is destroyed, a t-nut with the right barrel diameter and the matching bolt and use the same hole instead of drilling a larger hole or moving the screw location. These nuts are commonly used on furniture both for their ability to sit flush and for uninstalling and reinstalling pieces.
Zinc Plated Steel
Zinc is by far the most common and economical type of plating for fasteners. The zinc plating adds a protective "sacrificial" top layer against corrosion while also adding a shiny finish to the fastener. Zinc plating is ideal for indoor use where it won't be constantly exposed to harsh elements.
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Do you hammer T nuts?
You don't need to hammer t-nuts. You can hold the t-nut in place until the threaded bolt you're fastening into the hole catches the threading of the t-nut. Once that happens, fastening the bolt down will pull the t-nut into the wood and secure it.
How do you install T nuts?
First, drill the hole for the bolt you want to fasten down. Then press the t-nut against one end of the hole while fastening the bolt down until it catches the t-nut's threading. Once the bolt catches the threading of the t-nut, continue to fasten the bolt down to pull the t-nut into the wood. After the t-nut is all the way in, you can freely remove the bolt and re-insert the bolt as needed, and the t-nut will stay installed into the wood.
How do you use T nuts?
T-nuts are used primarily for wood with machine threaded bolts. You use them by attaching the t-nut to one end of a predrilled hole and then fastening a bolt through the hole and nut. Fastening the bolt down causes the t-nut to bite into the wood and become flush with the wood's surface once fully installed. Once the t-nut is in place, this gives you the ability to use the t-nut to fasten machine threaded fasteners to the wood.
How do you remove T nuts?
T-nuts were not designed to be removed once installed. If they absolutely must be removed, you would need to pry them off. Be warned that this may damage the wood.
What is zinc plated steel?
Zinc plated steel is steel that goes through the process of adding a layer or coating of zinc to protect the steel from corrosion. The added layer of zinc sacrifices itself to keep the steel from rusting, even if the plating is damaged.
Is zinc plated steel rust proof?
No. Zinc plating adds a layer of corrosion resistance for rust protection. Still, it's a thin plating, and it's not as rust resistant as hot-dip galvanizing, which also uses a zinc top layer. While not the most corrosive resistant of materials, zinc plating is easily the most economical and commonly used.
Can zinc plated steel be used outside?
Zinc plating is not a good form of corrosive protection for outdoor use, especially near saltwater or in marine environments. For those applications, stainless steel or potentially hot-dip galvanized steel would work better. Zinc-plated steel is better for indoor use.