I’m trying to remove light switch plate below but it seems to be securely attached around the pole switches. There are 2 dots on each of the rings around the pole switch, leading me to think they might be acting as screws. Anyone seen one like this before? And would you know what tool to use to remove these?

light switch

  • those look like holes, not dots ... you could make a tool from a piece of wood and two appropriately sized nails
    – jsotola
    Mar 14, 2020 at 18:12
  • As far as I can see (eg Soho Lighting) the 'fixing rings' around each toggle are cosmetic. The flat plate should lever off from the edge, leaving the toggles and 'fixing rings' in place. Original switches of this style did use fixing rings round each toggle to hold the plate in place.
    – Owain
    Mar 15, 2020 at 21:17

3 Answers 3


What you want is called a "pin spanner wrench". I've never seen that on a switchplate but they are commonly used in autos and motorcycles.

This type of wrench comes in many styles. For reference here is one that is adjustable and comes with inserts to accommodate various pin hole sizes.

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Picture Source


What you're going to need is a spanner wrench similar to the one shown below. You might be able to get one at an electrical supply store or high end lighting store. enter image description here

You could also use a pair of pliers and gently grasp the round nut and turn it counter clockwise.


Neither answer here gives you the name of the proper type of tool to remove the type of retainer nut showing in your picture. However for a one shot instance it may not be particularly feasible to acquire the tool that you need.

If you have a pair of needle nose pliers that have tips that fit into the holes on the retainer you can sometimes use that in a DIY way to loosen or tighten this type of retainer. Just open the needle nose pliers and insert the jaws into the holes and then twist on the handles of the pliers.

Note that you would not want to use an expensive, precision or treasured tool in this manner as it can actually damage the tool due to the sideways twisting of the jaws. In the past I actually took a cheap fairly heavy duty pair of needle nose pliers and ground down the tips a smaller size so I could use them as an impromptu spanner wrench.

I also have a small pair of bent nose pliers similar to the ones pictured here that have on occasion been used to remove small spanner type nuts on switches.

enter image description here

Picture Source

Comment Regarding Switch Panel

It may be possible to remove the switch panel by removing the three spanner nuts however it is more than likely that the spanner nuts are simply holding the switches onto the panel and that the panel is retained by another means. I can see several methods that would secure the panel:

  1. The panel may have been glued to the mating surface. Not so forward looking as that is less serviceable.
  2. The back side of the panel may have some type of spring clips that slide into a box or clip to the sides of the opening in the adjacent surface.
  3. It may be necessary to access the panel from the back side of the adjacent surface. It could be retained via stud fasteners where the screw/bolt part is spot welded to the rear side of the panel.
  4. This panel may even have a whole box type structure built on the back side that slides into a mating box that is built into the surrounding surface.

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