Sooner or later you’ll need to install a hex nut in a place where it is impossible to hold the nut with two fingers. Sometimes the nut can be positioned at the end of the bolt with tweezers. Another approach is to use rubber cement to temporarily attach the nut to your index or middle finger. You can also try putting a piece of masking tape over one side of a box-end wrench to hold the nut in place. Or you can use an open-end wrench with a piece of masking tape wedged between the nut and wrench jaws to position the nut at the bolt’s end.
In all my visits to stores that sell tools, I have never seen a tool that was dedicated to holding a nut remote from the mechanic; thus the following gizmo was developed. It consists of a hollow brass tube through which a 15-inch nylon tie-wrap is threaded into and out of the tube. At the far end, a loop is formed, and by pulling on the near end of the nylon tie-wrap, the nut is held in place.
A round or square brass tube will function as the tool handle. A square tube is preferable since the tie-wrap is less likely to twist. The brass tube outside dimensions are x x 5 inches. A rubber grommet with a -inch hole is stretched over the tube to hold the loose end of the tie-wrap in place when the tool is used.
For nuts in a more remote location, the square-tubing handle may be cut to 6 inches, and an 18-inch nylon tie-wrap may be used.
A 15-inch nylon tie-wrap threaded through a 5-inch long brass tube makes it easy to install hex nuts in remote places. (Photo: Dena Selby)
Square Tube: 0.25-inch O.D. x 0.032-inch thick x 12 inches long, OnLineMetals.com; or K&S Precision Metals #8155 sold by McMaster-Carr, #8859K46.
Rubber Grommet: 0.25-inch I.D. x 0.5-inch O.D., Anchor Marine Grade Products, #760375, sold by West Marine.
Nylon Tie-Wrap: 0.05-inch thick x 0.184-inch wide x 15 inches long, sold in packages of 100, Harbor Freight Tools.