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How to align bolt holes with a pry bar

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bolt holes, bolt hole, holes, bolt hole, In construction and engineering, misaligned bolt holes will need to be aligned using a pry bar with a pencil tip (or alternative tool).
misaligned bolt holes, unaligned bolt hole, bolt hole, bolt hole out of alignment, If bolt holes are not properly aligned, bolts may be fastened at an angle, loosening the connection between ‘mating’ objects. This can result in structural instability.

Which design is best?

pencil point bar, pry bar, aligning bar, Only two pry bars feature a pencil point, the tapered end required to align bolt holes. These are the aligning bar and the standard pry bar.
pencil point bar, pry bar, aligning bar, Though both bars are fit for the task, the aligning bar has been specifically designed for the purpose of aligning bolt holes. For this reason, it is longer than the standard pry bar (140-500mm) at 600mm, and tapers to a much finer point for penetrating small bolt holes where necessary.
weighing scales, weighing, However, its longer length renders the aligning bar heavier at 1.28kg (versus the standard pry bar at 85-520g), the heaviest of the pry bars. If weight is an issue, the standard pry bar may be preferable.
tape measure, tape, It is also worth noting that the standard pry bar comes in multiple lengths, whereas the aligning bar is available in only one size. Therefore, if you need a shorter bar for better control or alignment in tight spaces, the standard pry bar is the more sensible choice.
archimedes, law of the lever, If you will be levering heavy workpieces into place during alignment, a longer bar will grant better leverage.
money, spending, pound coins, If cost is a concern, the 600mm aligning bar is cheaper than the 400mm standard pry bar, with smaller standard pry bars costing less.

Wonkee’s hoof-by-hoof guide

To align misaligned bolt holes, just follow these simple steps:
insert bar into hole,

Step 1 – Insert pencil point into first hole

Push the pencil point of your bar into the first or top hole.

insert bar into second hole,

Step 2 – Insert pencil point into second hole

Now locate the second hole and push the pencil point of your bar through it.

levering, aligning bolt holes, how to align bolt holes,

Step 3 – Align holes

Using a gentle levering action, lever the mating workpieces around the pencil point of your bar until the two holes are properly aligned. In some cases, this may take a little time, so be patient!

remove bar from hole,

Step 4 – Withdraw bar

Now you can withdraw the bar from the holes. Simply slide it out, being careful not to push the holes out of alignment.

aligned bolt holes, bolt holes, aligning holes, how to align bolt holes,

Step 5 – Check alignment

Check that the holes are still in alignment. If not, repeat steps 1-4 until you are confident that the holes are aligned properly.

insert bolt, bolt head, head of bolt,

Step 6 – Insert bolt

Once the holes are properly aligned, you can fasten the two workpieces together using a bolt.

How to insert the bolt

To insert the bolt into your now-aligned holes, you will need:
bolt, insert bolt, A bolt of the appropriate size and type for your holes.
nut, A nut or washer of the appropriate size and type for your bolt.
wrench, a wrench, A wrench of the appropriate size for your bolt.
bolt, insert bolt,

Step 1 – Insert bolt

Insert the bolt from the front of the workpiece, so that the head is on the outside.

clockwise, turn clockwise, bolt clockwise, If the hole and bolt are threaded, turn the bolt clockwise to mate the threads.
nut attach,

Step 2 – Attach nut

When inserted through both holes so that the head is flush with the front of the workpiece, secure the bolt from behind the second hole with a nut.

nut attach, attach nut, clockwise, Hold the head of the bolt steady with your free hand. Place the nut on the end of the bolt and spin it clockwise while applying pressure toward the bolt.
secure bolt, bolt,

Step 3 – Secure bolt

Spin the nut on the end of the bolt until it is flush with the edges of the second hole, but do not tighten firmly until you are happy with the holes’ alignment.

wrench, wrench bolt, screw bolt, using wrench,

Step 4 – Tighten bolt

When you are happy that the mating holes are properly aligned, tighten the nut securely using a wrench.

To do this:

1. Slide the jaws of your wrench over the bolt. You should already have made sure that your wrench’s jaws correspond to the size of your bolt.

turn wrench, using wrench, clockwise,

2. Making sure that the jaws of the wrench are in complete contact with the bolt head, apply clockwise pressure to the wrench handle by pushing or pulling.

Wonkee Donkee says: Pulling is best, but pushing is ok if that’s what you’re comfortable doing.
fixed bolt, affixed bolt, fastened bolt, tight bolt, 3. Continue turning the wrench until the bolt is completely secure.
wrench nut, nut, nuts and bolts, wrench nut, tighten nut,

4. Repeat this process for the nut until completely secure.

donkee reads guidelines, Please note that this is only a basic guide to using nuts and bolts – for more in depth guidelines on using nuts and bolts, the different types of nuts and bolts, and the different sizes and types of wrench available, see our other guides.