Answers to Your Hardware Questions Answers to Your Hardware Questions

Q. I recently purchased two urethane corbels that I want to use to support a mantel. The corbels have no holes or anything on the back to attach them to the wall. What would be the best way to go about attaching these to the wall securely enough to support a mantel?

A. The corbels should not be used to support a mantel, only to trim it out. Your mantel should be firmly attached to the wall prior to adding the corbels. Construction adhesive is sometimes used for attaching urethane accents.

Q. I need to hang my son's dartboard cabinet in the basement, which is finished out but was done using steel studs instead of wood. This dartboard cabinet is surprisingly heavy - about 25 pounds or 30 pounds. It has two holes 16 inches apart, which would be perfect if I was going into wood. But what about going into steel studs? I have mounted other things and it felt like you could not tighten things up without stripping the screw in the steel. What sort of screw or fastener would be used to mount heavy things into steel studs? And will they hold it up OK?

A. Depending on the gauge of the stud, you have a couple of options. One is to use a self-drilling screw into the stud itself. Load values for a #6 or #8 screw going into 18 to 22-gauge stud will be well above the 25 or 30 lbs. you need. The other option is using a toggle bolt in a 3/16 inch or 1/4 inch diameter and again, load values will be well more than you need.

Q. How do you remove a Phillips screw when it is stripped on top?

A. You can usually grab the side of the screw with a pair of pliers. If it is recessed into whatever it is holding, then drill the head off so you can remove what it is holding, then get the pliers on it.

Q. I have a Murphy bed in my small studio apartment. As you can imagine it is a must to fold it back into the wall every morning if I want any space at all. The problem is that it is very heavy and awkward and it is a chore to push it up into its closet everyday. Does anyone have any ideas on a pulley and rope type system that I could install that would make it easier for me to do alone?

A. If you are fairly handy, you can construct a pulley or counterweight system to aid you. You may have to use trial and error a few times to get the right weight. You may want to add a light spring between the rope and counterweight to make it smoother.

Q. I am trying to change a toilet seat in my new home. It is not a new home, it is 30 years old, but it is new to me. The previous owner was there for seven years and it looks like the toilet seat has been there for seven years. The seat has metal screws and they are rusted. One of them will not turn; the other one turns but does not unscrew, it keeps turning in place. Also, the heads are getting stripped. Are there any tricks or techniques to remove these screws?

A. Start with a good penetrating oil. Let the penetrating oil soak overnight. Possibly the best you can hope for is to get the nuts on the bolts unscrewed far enough to use a hack saw to cut through the bolts, between the nut and the bottom of the toilet. For the bolt that turns, use vise grips or pliers to hold the bolt below the nut, then unscrew the nut. This will mess up the threads, and necessitate cutting the bolt. Another possibility for cutting the bolt is a Dremel with a cutting disk if you have one; be sure to wear safety glasses. When you replace the toilet seat, go with either plastic or brass hardware.

Q. I'm about to put in an attic folding ladder this weekend and need to buy the fasteners. Directions for the ladder say to use either nails or lag screws. I will use screws, but the directions don't say what size. The nail sizes are either 16d or 8d depending on location. Why not use regular wood screws? I was wondering if galvanized makes any difference - I thought I would buy galvanized screws so I can use the left over for outside. Finally, the directions say do not use drywall screws (I get that part) or deck screws (I don't get that part).

A. The smallest lag screws are 1/4 inch diameter, which is larger than 16d and obviously 8d nails, so don't think you need to get or even can get lag screws that are equivalent to the nails in size. Lag screws provide a more secure installation. You could use larger than 1/4" if you want but, 1/4 should work provided you use a reasonable amount and put them in good solid wood. Lengths and locations would be determined by the exact details of your situation. As for galvanized, as far as the ladder is concerned, it makes no difference really, so use them only if, as stated, you have other uses for them that make a difference, and for example, you can buy them by the box cheaper.

Two points about using lags versus wood screws: You can put lags in with a socket wrench and not deal with stripped heads, and obviously wood screws are not as heavy therefore not as strong. With that said, Phillips head screws could be put in with a drill, but I'd certainly use more of them. Drywall and deck screws are thin so I'm thinking that's why they aren't recommended. Whatever you use, make sure you drill pilot holes to prevent snapping heads off, as most screws of almost all types, including lags, are imported and of suspect quality.

Q. I was wondering what the glossy black coating is on drywall screws. Is it paint or an anti-corrosive coating?

A. Drywall screws - or "hold anything" screws - are covered with a plating called black oxide, and then dipped in a rust inhibitor called rust veto. When metal corrodes, what you see is oxide rust is red oxide. Black oxide can be created with a chemical process, or by a steam process. This gives the surface of the metal a layer of oxide, and since the surface of the metal already has an oxide layer which helps to slow the start of the more common Red Oxide, it will not halt further corrosion, but it will stop red oxide in the short term.

Q. I'm trying to put together a stationary bike, and I have a question. How do you actually lock a locking pin?

A. By definition, locking pins are cylinder-shaped mechanisms that are designed to provide secure retention against accidental disassembly; and it is generally accepted by the fastener industry that locking pins are divided into three main categories: 1) heavy-duty cotter pins, 2) single-acting pins, and 3) double-acting pins.

1) Heavy-duty cotter pins, (not to be confused with the simple conventional split-cotter pins, or push/pull split-cotter pins) are long cylinder shaped pins with locking action provided by a ring mounted on the head of the pin. The snap ring in the unlocked position will be in direct line with the cylinder. It must be in this unlocked position before inserting it into the holes. Once inserted into the holes, the snap ring must moved to at least a 90 degree angle to the cylinder to allow locking engagement. This type is usually the least expensive and is most found in use where there are limited or non-critical load stresses without notable time-motion factors. These can be found in use for exercise equipment such as the type you have described.

2) Single-acting pins have locking action controlled by a plunger-actuated locking mechanism. In the locked position, the locking element projects beyond the surface of the pin shank to provide a positive lock. When the plunger is moved by means of a button or lever assembly at one end of the pin, the locking element retracts. A number of head styles and release mechanisms have been developed for these pins. These are usually more expensive, but they will withstand greater load stresses and are ideal for critical time-motion connections found in exercise equipment.

3) Double-acting pins are a modification of single-action types, and have a bi-directional, spring-located plunger. Movement of the plunger in either direction releases the locking balls within the cylinder.

With that said, your equipment will very likely have one or more of the three basic types I have described above; so look to see how your locking pins react to moving the snap ring or engagement buttons. Look for the plunger to move - extend or retract. Try to insert the locking pins into their proper holes. If they do not fit, they are probably in the locked position and must be unlocked by moving the snap ring or button. Once inserted, move the locking ring or button into position to lock. Once they are locked, they should provide secure retention against movement or accidental disassembly.

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