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    Particle Board and Threaded Inserts

    Jeff recommended I post here. I hope this is the right place... sorry, I'm new here.

    I have a wooden plaque that I want to sink some threaded inserts into for a project of mine. It's actually for what is primarily an electronics project, so I won't go into too much detail about it unless asked (I don't want to run afoul of a topic cop). Suffice to say that the inserts, which are brass, are holding in place a set of nickel-brass standoffs. (It occurred to me that putting the standoffs into bare wood would likely be a bad idea.) My inserts look like this (direct small-image link).

    The problem I have is that the plaque I have for this project is paper veneer over molded particle board... or as my grandfather would call it, "horse[beep] and sawdust". I hate that stuff, it's nasty -- but it's what I can pay for, you know?

    Anyways, in the last iteration of this project, using a similar plaque, when I put in the inserts, they 'tented' the wood -- it pulled up and the veneer cracked, making a little volcano-shaped hill around each insert. I neither have nor can afford the fancy insert-inserting tool (I used a big flat-head screwdriver) so that may be part of it. I don't know. What I do know is, I really really really want to avoid that 'tenting' happening again. It looks positively horrible and I don't like it.

    How can I avoid the 'tenting' effect, when putting in the inserts this time?

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    Re: Particle Board and Threaded Inserts

    Over the years I've used a lot of brass inserts. For quite a while, installing them drove me crazy. I stumbled across a video by Ron Walters that solved my problems, and I think will solve yours as well. You don't need a fancy inserting tool - just a small bolt and a couple of nuts. You definitely don't need a screw driver as using one in the slot guarantees that you're putting the insert in upside down. Check out the video. Also, try it out on some scrap to determine the right size pilot hole. In hardwood, a slightly larger hole makes insertion much easier without compromising the hold of the insert. I've never tried inserting inserts into particle board, but I'm sure you'll find a pilot hole dimension that will work.

    Hope this helps.
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    Re: Particle Board and Threaded Inserts

    That's GREAT! I really like that technique. I don't have a drill press but I have a cordless hand drill (actually a cobbled-together scrap job, but it works...) and I should be able to use the hand-drill method with it.

    Thank you so much

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    Re: Particle Board and Threaded Inserts

    In making a jig that required placing 2 inserts in hardwood and one in plywood I sawed head off a 2", 1/4 20 hex bolt. Screw bolt fully into insert and tighten against two nuts, and then chuck in a drill press. You turn the chuck by one hand as you apply downward pressure with the other. Make sure insert is flush with top of wood before extracting bolt. Works pretty good.Trying to flush top of insert with wood after extracting bolt is difficult even using a big screw driver. Woodsmith tip. I had made a 13/32 pilot hole.

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    Re: Particle Board and Threaded Inserts

    Just watched the video. Great video! Ron did a good job of showing the right way of doing it as I had done it wrong by inserting the wrong end of the inserts.

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    Re: Particle Board and Threaded Inserts

    Thanks for the further info!

    These are for 6-32 thread... I know I have some half-inch such screws and I think I have some longer ones in an assortment box. I'm pretty sure the pilot hole for these should be a quarter inch but I don't remember and I don't have the bag (bought 'em on eBay, lol... heck, I don't even remember if these came with a bag...).

    Again, no press*, but I do have that hand-drill. I put it together from a mid-1990s 6v Craftsman job where the NiCad batteries blew up all over the inside... took out the motor-gearbox-chuck assembly and wired it to a lantern battery and a Radio Shack switch. It's a little limited, since there's only one (quite slow) speed and no reverse -- not to mention that it demands the nice $5 alkaline lantern batteries, the zinc chloride "heavy duty" ones I can get for half that price simply can't cope -- but it works remarkably well, especially considering what it is. I've used it as a Dremel, too... funny enough, it turns at the exactly right speed for cutting plastic with a for-plastics Dremel cutoff wheel... I"d say it's a coupla hundred RPM at the most. I hold it by the barrel of the gearbox, since I don't have a better grip for it... that lets me know when it's getting hot and needs a rest anyways. (For clarity -- the motor does have a fan in it, but it doesn't seem to do much.) I can post a pic of the thing if you guys want... it's quite a contraption.

    Besides, if I have a need to chew through something that's actually tough... I have a nice old Rockwell corded job that's positively unstoppable... if a bit loud.

    *Full disclosure: I do technically have a drill press. I've nowhere to put it right now, though -- so it's still in its box from the store and might-as-well not exist, at least for our purposes here. That issue itself -- my need of a workspace -- is the subject of another, ongoing project of its own...

    EDIT: Forgot to mention, whoops. Yeah, I have scrap I can use to test. I still have the plaque from the last time 'round!

    EDIT2: These are my inserts. I found that link googling about for the pilot hole diameter. They say quarter inch... I'll try that in the old plaque, with the bolt trick and the 'screwdriver slot' down, to put in one. I'll let you folks know how it goes...
    Last edited by starhawk; 12-11-2016 at 04:04 PM. Reason: Updated information.

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    Re: Particle Board and Threaded Inserts

    ...aaaaaaaand we have an answer!

    A 19/64 drill bit makes a hole that won't tent. If I go to 5/16 (tried that first), it's too big a hole -- the insert won't hold.

    A 6-32 computer case screw makes a nice insertion tool, BTW... well, until you go to back it out! I just torqued the insert all the way through the old plaque, since I didn't care about it... but for The Real Thing, that's going to be an insertion-only method. Works for me.

    I think we're done here How do I close the thread or otherwise mark it solved?

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    Re: Particle Board and Threaded Inserts

    Welcome to NCWW, starhawk.

    In my mind, there are three different types of inserts corresponding to three different applications:

    1. Knife edge, often brass or stainless steel, for hardwood. Installed with special tool or combination screw-nut to precisely align.
    2. Hex drive, usually zinc alloy, for softwood. They have threads but with staggered gaps and are usually installed with a Allen/hex tool.
    3. Barbed, often zinc alloy, for engineered particle boards. The barbs are not threaded because these are designed to be inserted with a hammer. Very common with lower cost flat pack or knock down type furniture.


    It sounds like you're trying to use the knife edge type in particle board and the material is coming apart with the insertion of the hard, sharp insert threads. You might still be able to make it work with gentle pressure in a hole pre-drilled larger than you would typically use for this fastener and hardwood. Install with wood glue, cyanoacrylate, or epoxy to improve the integrity of the board if you do this.
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    Re: Particle Board and Threaded Inserts

    Ah

    Next time I'll get the hammer type ones, then... thanks!

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    Re: Particle Board and Threaded Inserts

    Quote Originally Posted by starhawk View Post
    Ah

    Next time I'll get the hammer type ones, then... thanks!

    I would use these from the backside
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Re: Particle Board and Threaded Inserts

    Not tall enough. The plaque is ~3/4" thick, and the standoffs have a quarter inch of thread... also, McMaster-Carr is incredibly expensive, especially with shipping. They'd likely charge me $15 to ship a half-dozen of those, even if the price of each one was reasonable (which is at least a little unlikely with them). I'm on more of an eBay budget

    I like the look of those, though. Maybe for the next one. For now, I'm stuck with what I have.

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    Re: Particle Board and Threaded Inserts

    they can be counterbored from the back to get them to the top surface..... you can buy these at Lowes... the drawing was only for a picture of what I was talking about

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    Re: Particle Board and Threaded Inserts

    <blush>

    Sorry for the assumption.

    As for counterboring... I've never really had a knack for that. It would work if I could do it, though. Presumably they also sell longer-stemmed ones...?

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    Re: Particle Board and Threaded Inserts

    Yes, Ive seen longer stemmed versions.

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    Re: Particle Board and Threaded Inserts

    OK, cool. I'll keep those in mind for next time

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