The Nut Cracker... Sweet!

I think sometimes us gearheads get so impressed with ourselves and our tool collections, that we become closed minded to some of the old school options that exist.  The tool below is a perfect example of what I'm talking about.

In case you don't recognize this thing, it's called a nut splitter. 

The first time I ever saw one of these was when I was reading a book about tools, way back when I was a kid.  I remember thinking that these must be for old guys that were too cheap to buy an acetylene torch, and I kept thinking that for about another 35 years.

An acetylene torch is a great thing.  There are few things more satisfying than hearing the sound a red hot nut makes as you twist it off of a rusty bolt.  I think the greatest thing about it is the fact that you know you're going to win the battle before you even begin.  

Almost every time I use the hot wrench, I think back to the days before I had one.  The struggle, the agony, the defeat, and the disappointment that always went along with dealing with rusted fasteners and bolts broken off flush in blind hole.  It makes me appreciate the luxury of having a torch.  Success, every time.  Well just about every time.  There have been occasions where I have gotten a little overzealous and accidentally melted something.  Like I said before, the main disadvantage of having an acetylene torch is that it can make you blind to other (sometimes, better) alternatives that are out there.

That's the reason I never had a nut splitter, until last fall when I was repainting my Pro Wings attachment for my snowplow.  See those black things on the edges of that snowplow below?  That's what I'm talking about.  Someday, I might write a post about them.  In my opinion, they are the best accessory you can buy for a snowplow, followed closely by a rubber snow deflector like the one on the top of the plow in the picture below.

You may or may not be able to see in this picture, but the Pro Wings have a heavy rubber (about one inch thick) cutting edge that is held in place with two 1/2" X 2" carriage bolts.  Well, I needed to remove those cutting edges to paint the wings.  Of course the nuts were rusted to the bolts, and the bolts just spun around with the nuts when I tried to remove them.  None of this surprised me.  Those bolts had been getting a salt bath for years, and there was no way that rubber is strong enough to hold the bolt from spinning.  How the hell was I going to get the nuts off?

Automatically, my first thought was, "Get the torch", but I didn't want to melt that rubber cutting edge.  That's when I remembered the nut splitter that I read about so many years ago.  I went to Auto Zone and picked one up for about fifteen bucks, and did it ever work sweet!  I couldn't believe how fast and easy it was!  

I would recommend one of these nut splitters to anyone who does any amount of mechanical work at all.   They're inexpensive enough that the price wouldn't be an issue to even the cheapest car guy.  It will cut right through a 1/2" nut (a 1/2" nut takes a 3/4" wrench, so they're relatively large) with no problem at all.  Even if it's tightened right down on a steel plate.

It solved my dilemma with my Pro Wings.  I think it would also be great for removing nuts from a carriage bolt that you can't get off because the bolt is spinning in the square hole.  It could also be useful when you don't want to mess around with setting up and adjusting your torch in a situation where you only need to free one rusted nut and  it could be a life saver in the event of being out of acetylene or oxygen.

One last piece of advice.  I found it useful to use a socket and long extension for a handle to rock the nut splitter back and forth, after I split through the nut.  It widened up the nut just enough to make removal from the bolt quite easy.

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