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So you’ve tried everything you can think of and the damn nut is still frozen in place. Your next step: break the damn thing. Of course, it’d help if you could do so without jacking up the threads of whatever the hell it’s screwed to. That’s where nut splitters come in handy. You place ’em over the nut, then crank down slowly on the screw, applying mechanical advantage to drive an angled point into the nut, hopefully breaking it in half without mangling things up too bad.

I’ll be the first to admit that the only splitters like this I own are cheap-ass ones like the $12 models pictured above, available from Northern Tool. So maybe there’s some big advantage to owning a spend-tastic name-brand set. But damn if I can figure out what it’d be. They’re pretty clunky tools, and their purpose is simple enough that I suspect it’d take a lot of increased precision to make much functional difference in the tool. My recommendation — and please feel free to object in comments if you have some experience with these — is to pick up a cheap set, toss ’em in the toolbox, and be ready for the next time you don’t have any better option.

The pictured set claims to split nuts from 1/2″ to 7/8″. It also claims that it “won’t damage bolt threads,” which is a bit more iffy. (For what it’s worth, this isn’t a quality issue. They’re all a bit iffy.) Northern Tool also offers a 7/16″ to 3/4″ model, complete with a reverse-anvil setup where the screw drives a flat surface, pushing the nut into a splitter mounted on the other side of the bolt for around the same price.

2-Pc. Nut Splitter Set [Northern Tool]
Performance Tool Heavy Duty Nut Splitter, Model W88030 [Northern Tool]


16 Responses to Nut Splitter: It’s as Bad as it Sounds

  1. minh says:

    I’ve used the cheap ones a few times before and have never been a big fan of them. They work for what they are but usually the nuts that happens to be stuck are in some tight space when it wont work. They also only work on flat nuts, i had a few instances where i need to break a castle nut off (ball joint that kept spinning) and i needed up have to just sawzall the stud off and replace the ball joint.

  2. JR says:

    Amazon – $8.73 for the 7/16″-3/4″ and eligible for free shipping….I bought 3 (one for myself and two gifts got me into free shipping range)

  3. johnnyp says:

    I have had 1 of those for 30 years, Craftsman. It’s in mint condition. POS don’t waste your money , sawzall or grinder.

  4. Adam R says:

    Bought one to work on the suspension. The pin that keeps the splitting wedge from spinning broke off at the first sign of pressure. Couldn’t find anything to fit just right.

  5. Ian Random says:

    1. Penetrating oil
    2. Vise Grips
    3. Blow Torch

    Of course, just to be sure I’ll probably buy one of those myself. It is always the last nut that is the problem, never the first. Why???

  6. Phil says:

    Mixed success for me. In some cases, just “kinking” the nut instead of breaking it is enough to loosen it enough to spin off. It seems that the nuts I need to use this tool on are positioned such that I can’t fit the tool in place. My only tool broke ages ago, I have not replaced it.

    Miniductor to the rescue!

    • fred says:

      Have you used the Mini-Ductor or the Mini-DuctorII?
      We are often faced with trying to save antiquesin place and whre a torch is not a practical option. The $437 price tag has scared us off – since we’ve seen some mixed reviews

  7. Blair says:

    I bought a cheap one years ago to use on totaled truck shock bolts, it was the “last resort”, and did work, still in my kit in case I run into that situation again, but hasn’t seen much use since, still good to have though.

  8. Mac says:

    Never had the chance to use one, but would if nothing else worked.

    Often seems like I’m not able to easily get to the nut that is rustwelded in place.

    Usually repeated PB Blaster or Kroil and heat work. (Have heard others swear by 50/50 acetone and ATF, but always have a can of PB Blaster handy when working on something that might be stuck.)

    If not, break out the Dremel or better yet, the sawzall! 🙂

  9. Fong says:

    Never had a problem with a nut. It’s always been the bolt. As many have alluded to with grinders and dremels, preserving the threads on the bolt isn’t really a concern when a nut is rusted. On the other hand, trying to pull out a rusted bolt wihout jacking up the hole threads is.

  10. Rod says:

    They only work on very cheap cheese nuts, anything hard the threads of the nut splitter will fail, the tool will seize and money in the bin, trust me! They are all useless!! Ps. I never tried the hydraulic ones.

  11. Jeff says:

    When I tried to click the link left by fred, my Malwarebytes anti-malware blocked it. Be warned!

  12. Ron says:

    If the tool doesn’t have square threads it is a POS.

  13. Gregg says:

    I have a nut that’s cross threaded, and in a hard to reach spot. I wouldn’t be able to attack the nut from opposite sides, woild have to try for taing out a little more than a quarter. After reading these reviews sounds like i might bave better luck cutting it off with my Dremel multi tool.

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