I've just had a 'trap door' replaced in a floor boarded floor.

The previous trap door just had a couple of finger holes in it to lift it out, however:

  • This was not particularly neat
  • The trap door is a bit too heavy for this to be an easy task.

Now I have the new trap door in place (the floor itself has actually been replaced, hence the new trap door) I'd like to install a better way of lifting the hatch out.

The trap door itself is made of the same floor joists as the surrounding floor and has been floor boarded with the same floor boards as the surrounding floor.

I have looked at marine flush lifting handles, but my concern is that they would need a recess cut into the floor boards to fit them flush (I don't have a router, so it would be a hammer and chisel job!) and they would need to be installed directly over the joists that make up the trap door frame to give a solid enough fixing to lift the weight of the trap door.

I've also considered eye bolts that could be screwed in whenever I need access under the trap door (not very often). I'd need to find some kind of flush mounting nut or something that I could install under the trap door for the eye bolts to screw into, though, and I can't find anything suitable.

Finally I also thought about using manhole lifting keys or similar, and putting some kind of slot in the trap door. The problem then is making it something neat rather than just drilling a hole the correct shape for the keys to slot into.

I'm sure I must be missing something and there must be a better way of doing this.

  • If it is not a walk-in closet, the lifting handles or rings do not absolutely need to fit into recesses. You could save money and time if you would allow it to project up from the floor. Jan 24 '17 at 12:17
  • It's in a corridor, unfortunately, so being raised would be a trip hazard.
    – Fat Monk
    Jan 24 '17 at 12:36
  • 1
    The problem with the suggestion of T nuts is that they can work loose and fall out quite easily. If the wood is thick enough a keeper screw (probably countersunk) would stop it falling out most of the time, but IME they work loose on their own time but only fall out when you try to insert a bolt.
    – Chris H
    Jan 24 '17 at 12:56
  • 1
    Cutting a shallow rectangular pocket for a flush handle is one of the easiest jobs you can do with a chisel, on a par with fitting door hinges. Don't dismiss it out of hand
    – Chris H
    Jan 24 '17 at 12:58
  • @ChrisH I just don't want to make a mess of the new floor boards! I agree, though, it should be an easy job.
    – Fat Monk
    Jan 24 '17 at 13:05

As you've allowed for the option of using eyebolts, the receiving portion of that system is called a T-nut, and would require only an appropriately sized hole in the floor board, with the t-nut tapped in from below.

I would also suggest to recess the upper portion of the hole to enable you to place a binder bolt or similarly-headed bolt in the opening when not in use. This would prevent debris from entering the hole and clogging the threads. A slot-head type is going to provide the best option for later removal. Hex head and slotted head bolts can collect the same debris, reducing the value of such a fastener. You can use a forstner bit for a bolt with a flat underside or use an ordinary bit if the fill-bolt has a countersunk head.

I think you're on the right track.

enter image description here

  • This might work if you were to epoxy the nut in place, or secure it with small screws lapped over the flange. Over time it's likely to drop out otherwise.
    – isherwood
    Jan 25 '17 at 14:08
  • I've installed these with the "teeth" and later had to hammer them out, as once tightened with sufficient force, the wood provided sufficient grip over time. If the installation is in a dry location where the wood may dry out, the epoxy idea is a good one. My area is the opposite, the wood absorbs humidity.
    – fred_dot_u
    Jan 25 '17 at 14:21

You are looking for t-nuts

enter image description here

These would work with your removable eye-bolts

Personally I would use the marine flush lifting handles, but they are more work to fit.

  • That's exactly what I was looking for for the eye bolts solution, yes. Funny how they didn't turn up in any of my eye bolt search results.
    – Fat Monk
    Jan 24 '17 at 10:54
  • Answer accepted as these are what I was originally looking for, although I have now actually gone for marine flush fitting handles :-/
    – Fat Monk
    Oct 25 '17 at 12:15

Flush handles don't necessarily require a recess. You can cut a full-depth hole through the floorboards (but not the joist, obviously) using basic drill bits and a jigsaw. The escutcheon plates cover the hole edges for a nicely trimmed look, and you'll have the best functionality. No router or chisel needed. I'd use them.


this is all too much thinking. go here:


buy one of the circular ones.

drill pilot hole to accomodate pull rear swelling diameter, then counterbore (at the diameter of the flange) the hole from above to the depth of the flange. drop in the unit and screw in place. if your wood is weak or a poor species for resisting screw pull out, just put some backers behind the unit on the underside of the door for the screws to bit into.

if you do your holes with forstner bits, no further work required, if with holesaws, you will have to clean the shoulder down with a chisel.


Get a long carriage bolt.

carriage bolt

Drill a hole.

Maybe chisel a tiny square so the head can sit nearly flush. (Skip this step if you're lazy or don't have fingernails to pick at the head of the bolt when it's flush.)

Drop the bolt through and put a nut on the end.

Have an adult beverage.

Edit: since you added the part about being in a hallway, I'd now suggest you look into Magswitch products. A magnet underneath and the one of the magswitches on top should do it. (Sadly, it'll be an experiment to find out which model you need.)

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