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Over time, the hexagonal nuts in my bed frame have loosened. I'd like to tighten them, but the routed access is much too small for a socket head, crescent wrench or even needle-nosed pliers -- not that they would provide enough torque to actually turn the nut:

A tight fit for accessing the bolt shown

The opening is ~1-5/8" in both axes.

Has anyone found a good way to tighten nuts in such close quarters?

Note in particular that the bed came without washers as a stand-off, so these particular nuts tighten against the raw oak surface, which was routed with the curve shown.

The other end of the bolt seems to be sealed in the leg of the bed -- here's a photo showing the 1-5/8" bolt recess with what seems to be a decorative end cap glued in place:

View of the opposite side of the bolt

  • I should have mentioned that the bolt head is inaccessible here, it's inside the bed rails themselves and I can only assume that I'm not meant to access the head as there's no way to get inside without breaking glued-in pieces. – Kevin Cain Sep 27 '16 at 21:40
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    This probably is not the best idea but what about grabbing the screw with needle nose vice grips... There would not happen to be a small recess in the end of the screw that could be used would there? other than that are you sure the Plugs covering the bolt heads are glued in? they may be pressed in. I have not run into a piece of furniture that could not be tightened. – Ed Beal Sep 27 '16 at 23:09
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    +1 for @Ed Beal, maybe some "bent-nose" vice grips.. Or time for some modifications to the frame...drill a hole, cut out with jig saw a nice window...then cosmetic repair as needed.. – SqlACID Sep 28 '16 at 0:47
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    Any idea how the bed was assembled to begin with? – Carl Witthoft Sep 28 '16 at 14:31
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    That's not a standard nut, and the way it's set against a curved surface makes it very difficult to tighten even if there was good access. Those two things make me think that you're not supposed to tighten it from that end. I agree with @EdBeal - check the other end. – Mark Sep 29 '16 at 9:54
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I'd bet money they used a box wrench to tighten this; you can see where it damaged the wood ever so slightly to the left and right of the nut (and the scrape it made in the center while on its way onto it).

Try using a twelve point box wrench. You might also need a hammer ;) ... and you might have to disassemble the headboard to get it out of the way. It looks to me like that lightly colored piece of plywood is an add-on, and that's why you can't get in there.


That supposed piece of plywood was the bed, so there's your access.

It needs to be an offset box wrench, or you won't have room to turn it, and you may need to seat it with a hammer for the first few turns. And as the other answer suggests, grinding down the outer edge of the tool is an option.

enter image description here

(source)

  • I should have noted that the light-colored wood is part of the mattress frame, which I've lifted out to get to the bolts. – Kevin Cain Oct 1 '16 at 3:11
  • @KevinCain - Removing the bed gave you a few inches of access, yes? See edit. When you have limited space to turn, that's when you need 12 point tools. – Mazura Oct 1 '16 at 3:42
  • @KevinCain - If you could get a socket on there, then you can make (thus, the hammer ;) a box wrench go on there. The only fundamental difference between those two types of wrenches is that one of them makes a clickety noise ;p – Mazura Oct 1 '16 at 4:17
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    I tried a 1/2" offset box wrench (with a hammer) and was able to loosen the bolts. – Kevin Cain Oct 3 '16 at 19:20
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    I do intend to insert strong washers as per @User95050 suggested. – Kevin Cain Oct 3 '16 at 19:21
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If you can remove the nut once (needle nose vise grips was a good suggestion), just stack a bunch of washers to push the nut up to a more accessible position.

You might have to grind a bit off the shoulders of an open ended wrench to get in there and turn it, but I doubt it.

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It's hard to get a sense of scale from the photo but it looks like there might be enough room for a socket wrench if you put the socket on first and then the wrench.

Or you could try using a universal joint set, maybe with a socket extension?

Finally if all else fails you should be able to route out more of the wood to make room for whatever tool you do have. (Of course that requires a router and a bit).

  • A router is not needed. A sharp chisel and a hammer should do the job fine. – user48010 Sep 29 '16 at 4:06
  • Thanks Henry Jackson, I thought that it might be possible to get the socket on first, as you suggested, but alas even with a minimal socket wrench the space is just too tight. – Kevin Cain Sep 29 '16 at 17:44

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