Switch Wrench

There’s not a lot of room behind most toggle switches to get a store-bought wrench in there. The little wrench fits in tight spots and will do the job! Reshape the custom wrench as required.

A lot of people don’t know that the proper way to tight the nuts on a toggle switch is install the front nut (or knurled ring) to a visually pleasing spot, then tighten the rear nut to cinch the switch up tight. But even those who know the “proper” technique don’t always use it because it can be a royal pain to get any sort of a wrench onto the rear nut—there’s never enough room to get any sort of a manufactured open-end wrench back there.

A little wrench made out of scrap .040” aluminum will tighten the nuts as much as they need (and will fail if you try to apply “gorilla torque”).

Scrap to the rescue! Find a piece of .040” aluminum (hint: it’s under the workbench) and mark it for a 9/16” wide slot. You can use thicker if you want to apply more torque, but honestly, it’s not needed. Use your bandsaw to carefully carve it out—keep those edges parallel. Cut the outside however you want, but make a bend to give you a “handle” far enough out to clear the switch body, but keep it close. Voilà! You have a switch wrench to be proud of and show your friends! Oh…. and it will tighten those switches perfectly.

The trick to nice looking toggle switches is to have the front nuts almost flush to the threaded front of the switch.
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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.


  1. More and more, I find myself making custom tools, and I find I actually enjoy it. We’ve all gotten so used to buying tools, and we forget it’s not that difficult to fabricate simple tools ourselves. And with today’s prototype shops, it’s getting super easy to make even more complex tools as well.


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