The REAL cage nut tool

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:

Cage nut in rack rail

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.

Cage nut tool holding cage nut

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.

8 thoughts on “The REAL cage nut tool”

  1. This is awesome. I wish I knew about it about 5 years ago when I was installing hundreds of rack mount servers. I might have to get one just in case.

  2. Personally, I’ve used the fancy ones and I very much prefer the simple bent piece of metal. You pretty much just put the thing through the square hole, put a cage nut in place with one side in the hole and the other side by the bent piece of metal, and pull. Pop, in it goes.

    For removal, I’ve had good luck hooking the bent part over one shoulder of the cage nut, and then just pushing it through the square hole. Quick and easy.

    The sad part is that most places want to charge you $20 a piece for either the fancy or simple ones. I found one place that had the simple ones for $3.50 each, but they wanted $30 shipping.

  3. I agree, the simple tool is much better than the levered tool. The problem with the levered tool is thta you have to be behind the nut to install it, which is fine in a new rack. If you have equipment in a rack and your trying to put in nuts after the fact, there’s no way the levered tool is easily going to fit.

    I have seen the same problem as Sean. Nobody wants to sell the bent piece of metal for anything but $20 per, which is ridiculous.

  4. I’m going to make a cage nut tool from a PC case card slot cover and cover the ‘handle’ of my tool with duct tape.

  5. I came across a company in Sydney that sells the aluminum cage nut insertion / removal tool.
    There name is Rageem Fastener Co

  6. I came across your website googling around for this damn tool – I can’t believe how much they charge for these. What I did was use an extra PC card slot cover that I have from our HP servers. So next time you install a NIC card or video card, save that slot cover, it will come in handy..

    Michael

  7. I wish they had one that was a lever clamper on one end and the handle would have the hook for pulling them from the front. I would pay the double price I can’t get the lever in when there is equipment or another cage nut next to where I want and the slot cover just bends.

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