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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I did this review a few months back at the old hangout, but with the way things are going lately I wanted to post it here too, "just in case". ;)

EZ-Lok Threaded Inserts

This product is a great alternative to using tee nuts to secure your rail or racetrack playing surface insert to your table base. EZ-lok has 3 similar “knife thread inserts” products that are useful in securing your rail – one flush insert designed for hardwoods:

http://www.ezlok.com/InsertsWood/hardWood.html

And two inserts designed for softwoods, one flush and one flanged:

http://www.ezlok.com/InsertsWood/softWood.html

You can order free samples directly from ez-lok – I got samples of each insert, so here’s my comparison:

Softwood flush (left), hardwood flush (middle), softwood flanged(right)


The difference in price between the hardwood and softwood inserts is pretty significant (hardwood is 4x as much), and unless you’re building a table with something other than plywood (maybe mdf), I don’t see much of a benefit in getting the hardwood inserts. They’re sharper and sturdier than the softwood inserts, but the softwood inserts provided just as much pull out capacity in plywood and were easier to install IMHO. If you do decide on using the hardwood inserts, you'll need a flat head screwdriver with a very wide head (I ended up using a 1" scraper to screw it in), or you can thread a nutted bolt into the thread, tighten down the nut to the insert, and use the bolt to install the insert.

The two softwood inserts are basically identical except that one has a flange to limit the embedment depth of the insert. You can see from the website that both insert types come in numerous sizes – i used products 901420-13 and 801420-13, which use ¼” – 20 internal threads and are roughly ½” long.

Both are installed by drilling a 9mm hole (per manufacturer) and then using a m6 hex drive to screw the insert into place. As always, try installing the inserts in a scrap piece first to make sure the hole you've drilled isn't too big, otherwise the anchors may pull out (I used a 5/16” drill bit in acx ply, but different woods may give you different results). I chose to install the inserts on the underside of the rail so that there were no holes on the top surface of the rail like you have with the tee nut setup.











The inserts are completely hollow and a fastener can be threaded from either direction, so you could just as easily install them on the top of the rail like you would a tee nut:



Between the flush and flanged types of inserts, I tried both and would recommend the flanged. The flange limits how far you can embed the insert (so you can’t drill it in too deep), it makes for a nice clean finished hole so it’s easier to thread the connector bolt, and it will help to straighten an insert if you install it on a slight angle. Threading the connector bolt with these inserts was ten times easier than trying to do so with a tee nut, as it can be difficult to hammer the tee nut in perfectly straight.

A quick note regarding screwing in the insert – it requires a m6 (metric) hex head. a ¼” hex will be too big, and a 3/16” will be just big enough to catch the threads, but just small enough to strip out the metal and render the insert useless. Same result with trying to screw it in with a flat head screwdriver or star bit – anything other than a m6 hex head will strip out the insert. The bottom line is installing these inserts is really fast and easy, but you need to use the right tools.

I found that the pullout capacity of these inserts was very good – in the sample piece of ¾” ac plywood i tested out, it took 15-20 full shots with a 5lb sledge hammer to rip the insert out – and it looked like it came out more because the wood started to crack versus the anchor slipping out. Just make sure the hole you drill for the insert isn't too big.

The biggest downfall of these inserts is their price & availability. Tee nuts are readily available at any home depot or hardware store for 10 cents a piece, and you can buy them individually or in very small packs. While I did find these types of inserts at home depot (in the “hard to find hardware” section by the connector bolts), they were a little over 60 cents a piece (pack of 4). Alternatively, you can get them cheaper online (i bought 50 for $9 shipped from the Reid supply company), but unless you order a decent amount, you’ll spend $5 to ship $1 worth of inserts. Fastenal stores also carry the ez-lok inserts, but only in bags of 100 for $15. So you either get a whole bunch for around 15 cents a piece, or just a few for 50 cents a piece, ymmv.

Overall, I think these inserts are worth the extra pennies in the time and aggravation they save over tee nuts, especially for those who build lots of tables and can afford to buy these inserts in bulk. I used them to secure the rail on my latest 48” round table, and it took all of about 5 minutes to install them. It was also the first time that I was able to easily thread all of my connector bolts without having to fiddle around with finding the connection shank of the tee nut.
 

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Irish,

Thanks for the review and explanation. I've been looking for anything that would serve as a valid/logical substitute for t-nuts.

Tp
 

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nicely done. I wish more of us would move old threads over...I am worried that we will lose a great deal of information should "he who shall remain nameless" shut down the site.
 

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Yup, I've moved to using only EZ-Lok knife threads for hard wood.
- For the rail bolts I was able to find a flat head bit that was plenty wide and spanned the diameter of the insert.
- For the ped mounting plate bolts I sprung for the EZ-Lok Drive Tool:

Makes things easier and faster but hold onto your checkbook when they tell you the price :eek:

Regarding transitioned threads:
I think Quads has been transferring content, hasn't he?

I know I'd like to have the 'Achieving a seamless level playing surface' thread as well as the 'for those who need help covering rails..'
rail covering guide by Zerolux
here permanently.

This guide guide about the threaded inserts is excellent btw: kudos to Irish
 

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Bizarre ordering system. Ordered a pack of 100 last night and online it kept saying "Applicable shipping charges and tax will be added."

Pushing through the cart and billing process, blah blah blah, suddenly I have an order confirmation with all the details, still says "Applicable shipping charges and tax will be added."

I called this morning, it's already shipped out and should arrive this afternoon. $5 shipping will be added to my invoice.

Grr. Torn between "holy shit that's fast" and "how the hell can you authorize shipping charges without giving me choices, let alone approval?"

Also of note - turns out they have a local warehouse I can pick up from in the future.

Edit: When I say last night I mean 2am this morning.

Edit 2: Inserts just arrived (before I even received an invoice). Turns out they're E-Z LOK brand too!
 

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Good deal but I also would not want the surprise shipping rate that you didn't even get the chance to 'OK' or cancel out on.

You've got it made in the shade though if you can pick them up locally.

And definitely stay with that brand: it's solid stuff made with quality metals.
 

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I've had that same issue on McMaster, and same complaint.
However, with their *very fair* shipping charges, and almost immediate delivery of product, it's been water under the bridge.
 

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How can you complain about $5.00 shipping? McMaster Carr is the best supplier out there. We sometimes order in the morning and have our stuff delivered in the afternoon.
 

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How can I complain? Maybe because it was 36% of the list price of the item I ordered?

Again, the point is that you are charged without consultation. If somewhere on the website or by phone I had been asked "do you want to pay $5 and have this by the end of the day?" I would not have any problem.

Despite this, I STILL would recommend McMaster to anyone. I'll just recommend calling before finalizing orders too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I ran into the same issue with the shipping, but I've ordered from the previously without incident. I have trouble finding stuff on their website, but they do have a lot of good hardware and decent prices.
 
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