Anyone who’s spent time installing servers or other electronics in standard 19″ (or 24″) racks has run into this problem. In these racks, the holes are square, and most equipment has brackets that require screws to attach. So you install a cage nut, which is a square-shaped nut surrounded by a razor-sharp piece of metal that’s designed to both hold the nut in the equipment rack and to cut the fingers of anyone who tries to insert the nut manually:
So most rack and equipment manufacturers take a measured amount of pity on the poor installers, and included a bent piece of metal (seen in the illustration above) that they call a “cage nut insertion tool”, which is a) cheap and b) still a pain to use. Oh and did I mention it’s cheap? And they don’t work well at all for when you need to remove the nut later on.
A long time ago, I discovered a gentleman in Australia (whose web site I now can’t find) making these beautifully simple tools to insert and remove cage nuts. It’s a small machined piece of aluminum with a lever that’s shaped to carefully clamp and squeeze the cage nut, so that the razor sharp edges of the nut will pass through the square opening. Once the cage nut is seated, release the tool, and the razor sharp edges hold the nut in place.
Removal is equally as good. Instead of the traditional method — insert a screwdriver on one side of the nut so that the nut springs out and shoots across the room — simply apply the tool, squeeze, and remove.
It’s a simple, brilliant piece of technology, and anyone who’s got more than one equipment rack to deal with should have one in their tool chest. You’ll throw out every bent piece of metal that comes with cage nut kits as soon as you find them.
Available from Cables Plus USA or Rackmount Solutions. Disclaimer: I haven’t dealt with either of these businesses, so do your due diligence first. Disclaimer II: Not getting paid or anything, I just really like this tool.