The Fastener Starter is a creative solution to prevent the loss of small fasteners during their installation. This is the only currently available tool that can firmly grip and hold a single screw, bolt, nut, washer, spacer, or any combination of these parts. Other commercially available fastener starters are unable to accommodate a variety of parts simultaneously. The Fastener Starter is a more capable and easier tool to use than prior tools. Its compact size allows it to be used effectively in cramped, difficult-to-see locations. Its design also allows it to be used with or without handles and extenders in other difficult-to-reach locations. It provides better protection against cross threading and loss of fasteners and associated parts. The Fastener Starter is non-magnetic and does not off-gas, thus meeting flight hardware requirements.

The Fastener Starter incorporates a combination of features of several commercially available tools, providing an improved means of installing small fasteners. The Fastener Starter includes a custom molded insert that can be removed easily and replaced with a conventional tool bit (e.g., a screwdriver or hex-driver bit). When used with the insert, the Fastener Starter prevents cross threading and damage to internal threaded holes. This is achieved by allowing the fastener to slip within the tool insert when used without a conventional tool bit. Alternatively, without the insert and with a tool bit, the Fastener Starter can torque a fastener. The Fastener Starter has a square recess hole that accepts a conventional square drive handle or extension to accommodate a variety of applications by providing flexibility in handle style and length.

In a typical operation sequence, the user opens the tool, places a screw, screw/washer combination, nut, or nut/washer combination against and within the insert (or tool bit), and closes the tool, which firmly grasps the hardware. The user then guides the fastener to its destination and turns the tool to attach the fastener. Once the fastener is attached, the user simply pulls back on the tool to open it and release the fastener.

In tests that involved the installation of more than 300 screws and washers, in several orientations and at different distances from the users, the tool did not drop any parts. In addition, most of the users participating in the tests expressed their preference to use this tool rather than only their hands to start a fastener installation.

This work was done by Faith Chandler, Harry Garton, Bill Valentino, and Mike Amett of The Boeing Company for Kennedy Space Center.

Title to this invention, covered by U.S. Patent No. 6,606,924, has been waived under the provisions of the National Aeronautics and Space Act {42 U.S.C. 2457(f)}, to The Boeing Company. Inquiries concerning licenses for its commercial development should be addressed to:

Terrance Mason, Boeing Patent Licensing
Boeing Management Co.
Mail Stop 1650-7002
15460 Laguna Canyon Road
Irvine, CA 92618
Phone No.: (949) 790-1331
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Refer to KSC-12224, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the May, 2005 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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