Crossnut-Heading
Cross Nut: we don’t like drilling holes in our van. You shouldn’t either!

 

It could
  1. attract rust on bare edges
  2. spread metal chips all over (almost impossible to remove and will attract rust)
  3. interfere with your van electronics (!) (follow your manual’s no-drill zones, such as the Ford Transit BEMM)

 


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Buying through our product links is the best way to say thanks if we were of any help for your conversion! Thanks for supporting us and for keeping this website alive 🙂

 

Alternatively, you can visit our Say Thanks! page.


 

 

There is a way to avoid drilling holes:
Cross Nut, Pre-Bulbed

Cross Nut, Pre-Bulbed. Buy on Amazon.

What is a Cross Nut?

It is an insert that you install permanently in an existing hole. Once installed, a bolt can be fastened (and removed) into it. Voilà!

 

 

How does it hold into the van panel? This way:

crossnut-simulation

 

How does it look when installed in a van:

cross nut

Cross Nut:
  1. will not create galvanic corrosion (if your van panels are also made of steel, most likely they are…)
  2. have impressive pullout strength: 1215lbs (for .030″ thick steel)
  3. covers a wide grip range (grip = van panel thickness) (for example, the 1/4-20 Cross Nut grip range is .020″ to .280″)
  4. are quite easy to install with specific tool or DIY tools
  5. blind installation (no need to have access to both sides of the panel)
  6. can be installed in plastic or wood as well

 




 

 

How to install a Cross Nut

Method A

Use a tool such as this one:

cross nut-tool

Buy from Amazon.

Method DIY

After installing 80+ Cross Nuts using the DIY method, we wish we bought the tool above… we probably spent as mush in bolts & K-Nuts than the cost of the tool itself! Unless you’re almost done with your conversion, make yourself a favor and get the tool!

Tools required:

  1. Carriage bolt (same type as your Cross Nut. 1/4-20 Cross Nut = 1/4-20 bolt. Buy from Amazon)
  2. K-Nut (it’s a nut with an attached, free spinning washer. Buy from Amazon). We found this type of nut will last MUCH longer than a regular nut (a regular nut will last for 1-2 uses only as opposed to 10-15 uses for the K-Nut)
  3. Box Wrench (or any drilled plate would do. This is just to prevent the Cross Nut from rotating when upsetting)
  4. Vise Grip (Buy from Amazon)
  5. Wrench (for turning the K-Nut)

 

Procedure:

cross nut-demo-step-1

1- Insert the Cross Nut in the hole

cross nut-demo-step-2

 

3- Insert the box wrench, k-nut, carriage bolt and secure the vise-grip to the carriage bolt.

cross nut stackup

 

4- Upset

cross nut-upset

 

5- Remove the box wrench, k-nut and carriage bolt. That’s it!

cross nut-front-view

 

6- Fasten your bolt!

cross nut-example

These 4 bolts are fastened into Cross Nut!



 

What type of Cross Nut do I need? Where can I buy them?

Well, it depends on the “Grip Range” (panel thickness) and “Hole Size” (diameter). Use the table below to find the correct type and follow the “Amazon Link” to buy:

Thread Size Grip Range Hole Size  Amazon Link
Min. Max.
10-32 0.020-0.175 0.312 0.317 BUY
10-32 0.175-0.320 0.312 0.317 BUY
1/4-20* 0.020-0.280 0.386 0.391 BUY
1/4-20 0.280-0.500 0.386 0.391 BUY
5/16-18 0.020-0.280 0.484 0.489 BUY
5/16-18 0.280-0.500 0.484 0.489 BUY
3/8-16 0.020-0.280 0.562 0.569 BUY

*For the Ford Transit, you want the 1/4-20, 0.020″-0.280″ grip range. They fit perfectly in the existing holes!

 

 

Tip #1

How to locate accurately the holes to be drilled in the cabinet (or else) to get a perfect fit with the Cross Nut pattern?

this-cabinet-must-be-fastened-to-the-van-wall

 

1- We used hanger bolts (same thread type as the Cross Nut):
hanger-bolt

Buy it on Amazon.com

2- We installed a hanger bolt in each Cross Nut, sharp end pointing out

hanger-bolts-installed

 

3- Then we pressed the cabinet’s panel against the hanger bolts sharp end; this transferred the Cross Nut pattern into the cabinet.

 

4- The cabinet was drill using the transferred pattern from step 3 (it is O.K. to slightly oversize the holes).

 

5- The bolts were fastened into the Cross Nut. Voilà!

cabinet-cross nut

 

Conclusion

Cross Nut are easy to get, easy to install, are very strong and will help protect the van in the long run. We highly recommend them for a van conversion!

 

 

WANT MORE?

Check out our Build Journal, learn everything about The Van, read our VanLife Guides, or if you’re new to this start by reading The Prologue.

 

 

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ABOUT US

Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017 we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers and moved into our self built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!

 

 

CHEERS!

 

 

53 comments

  1. Comment by Rozalyn Allan

    Rozalyn Allan Reply September 23, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    Thanks for all the info. But I’m a bit confused about using the plusnuts. If the walls/ribs are covered with insulation and EZCool, how do you know where the holes or plusnuts are? Do you cut holes in the EZCool as you go along, to expose the plusnuts? Or do you install the plusnuts after you put up the EZCool? I also assumed the wall paneling would go up behind the cupboards, but that would also cover up the plusnuts. Do you just try to mark where the plusnuts are, so you can find them later when you mount the cupboards? Thanks for the help!

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply September 25, 2018 at 3:31 pm

      The Cross Nuts are installed first. When it’s time to add the insulation, we installed hanger bolts into the plusnut and we poked through the insulation, so you know where the Cross Nuts are (you can use a red sharpie to make it even more obvious, before removing the hanger bolts).

      Our wood paneling does not go behind the cupboards, but you could use the hanger bolts method if that’s what you want.

      Hope that make sense!

  2. Comment by Duane

    Duane Reply June 29, 2018 at 11:40 am

    Re: PlusNuts

    If you live in Canada, it’s very hard to find the prebulbed PlusNuts (or very costly), and the ones on your Amazon.com won’t deliver to Canada. Since it is 840km return to nowhere Montana, I ordered many 1/4-20 rivnuts at Amazon.ca ahead of my van delivery. Just before starting on the bed frame, I tried inserting one, and much to my chagrin, it did not fit!

    Using a digital measuring device, I found that the hole size was 0.367″. Therefore, the PlusNuts shown in your chart would not fit either. Perhaps Ford has changed the hole size in the 2018 models. I ordered new rivnuts that are 0.348″, and they fit. Just wanted to make people aware to measure first, and order carefully.
    Not a big $$ deal – just a hassle.

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply June 30, 2018 at 9:37 am

      Hi,
      Unfortunately I can’t confirm if the hole size have changed since 2016 🙁
      Have you read this thread here: FordTransitUSA Thread
      It’s about someone that has the same issue as you, then finally: “Yep, found I could ‘persuade’ the plusnuts into the (majority) slightly smaller holes. Just tapped them with a mallet or even my hand. Don’t believe the paint is damaged in these scenarios.”

      Have you try to “persuade” them with a hammer?

  3. Comment by John Nava

    John Nava Reply May 19, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    Thanks for all the tips, tricks, and how-tos! I’ve used several. I did modify your plusnut install just a bit. I find the vice grips slip quite often and ultimately destroy the bolt.

    I simply use a 1/4 inch drive ratchet and whatever socket you need to hold the bolt as I turn the nut. Using the smaller ratchet, you can hold it and the slip wrench in one hand while you turn the nut with the other.

    Hope all is well!

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply May 19, 2018 at 6:28 pm

      Sweet, thanks for the tip!
      🙂

  4. Comment by Duane

    Duane Reply March 7, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    Hi Antoine

    Great site! Would like to buy items via your webpage, but links to plusnuts, the plusnut tool, and other items are not working for me. Any suggestions? I’m in Canada, so that could be it.

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply March 7, 2018 at 9:44 pm

      Yeah it’s not available in Canada unfortunately… you can ship to the border using kinek.com ! That’s what we did!

  5. Comment by Nate

    Nate Reply February 28, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    Hey Antoine,

    The Amazon link to the plusnut seems to be a dead end… do you know of anywhere else I can order them?

    Thanks for the great posts!

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply February 28, 2018 at 9:04 pm

      Just checked, it’s working for me: http://amzn.to/2oGiU1b

      Which one do you need? Are you outside the USA?

  6. Comment by Mike

    Mike Reply February 6, 2018 at 11:34 pm

    Great site. Excellent explanation. I am about to buy a van and convert it and your page is among the more helpful. Thanks,

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply February 7, 2018 at 9:08 am

      Sweeeet, glad to hear that!

      Good luck in with your project 🙂

  7. Comment by elizabeth rayor

    elizabeth rayor Reply December 21, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    Thanks for your tips! Do i still need to use the k-lock-nuts if I plan to purchase the recommended tool for inserting plus nuts? We have a transit as well..but the passenger van. We dont want to drill any holes at all bc of the risk of hitting air bags and wiring.
    Thanks!

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply December 21, 2017 at 7:56 pm

      You don’t need the k-nut! It’s used just to install the Plusnut for the DIY way.

      Good day 🙂

  8. Comment by Christian

    Christian Reply November 6, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    I may be missing the obvious, but I’m not sure how to get the sharpened “screw” end of these hanger bolts to work. If I put the threaded end into the plusnut (sharp end out) the nut won’t screw neatly onto the sharpened end.

    If I place them the other way, the sharpened end won’t thread into the plus-nut.
    Am I missing something?

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply November 6, 2017 at 9:16 pm

      The sharpened end is only used to make a mark into the object to be attached. For example, if a cabinet is hold with 4 plusnut: insert the sharpen screw into the plusnut (pointing out), press the cabinet against the 4 sharpened screws to get the plusnut pattern. Drill the 4 holes into the cabinet (where you got the marks from the screws). Remove the 4 sharpened screws from the plusnut (not needed anymore). Install the cabinet using bolts (through the holes you just drilled and into the plusnut).

      Hope that make sense!
      antoine

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  10. Comment by Jared

    Jared Reply August 3, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Does anyone know if I drill a new hole for a plushnut, do I need to prime the hole to prevent rust?

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply August 3, 2017 at 8:10 pm

      Hi Jared,
      we primed + painted + clearcoated every hole and every trim on the van to prevent rust. It’s a new van and has many years in front of it! If you are converting an old van, it might not be necessary…

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  12. Comment by Robert Ryan

    Robert Ryan Reply March 8, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Great guide! Did you use the same plusnuts for your ceiling install?

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply March 8, 2017 at 2:18 pm

      Yes, same size. There is smaller holes all around the wall, I sometime wish we had smaller Plusnut as well, but we made it worked with only 1/4-20 size.

  13. Comment by Ron

    Ron Reply March 2, 2017 at 12:07 am

    oops…Correction second paragraph first line “clockwise” rotation should be “counter clockwise” rotation.

  14. Comment by Ron

    Ron Reply March 1, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    Thank you Antoine. The two stripped plusnuts happen to be located where there is no back access, a truly blind nut. One of them spins thereby eliminating the use of an oversized bit which should work on the first one. My solution for the second, spinning nut, is to use a Dremel with grinding bit that will fit inside the thread. Then carefully grind away the inside edge of the collar to separate it from the threaded portion. Hopefully, this will minimize any potential damage to the hole, i.e., paint and metal.

    As a note for future plusnut tool users, when setting the plusnut in place with the clockwise rotation of the wrench you’ll see the nut collar being drawn in against the sheet metal. Turn the nut until you have a snug tight fit. A snug tight fit does not require overwhelming force. The plusnut threads can easily be stripped or damaged with too much “brute” force. If you have trouble screwing into the plusnut, too much force was used to set it. The threads are probably distorted. This can be recovered by threading the matching screw initially with your fingers. Make sure the screw is correctly aligned and not cross threaded. Then slowly turn the screw all the way through the plusnut. There will be some initial resistance followed by a release as the screw moved through the nut. Consider using a stainless steel screw for this task. The treads are much stronger and more precise.

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply March 2, 2017 at 7:22 am

      Thanks for the tips 🙂

    • Comment by Matt Lemke

      Matt Lemke Reply September 11, 2017 at 5:55 pm

      It is never a good idea to mix stainless steel nuts with steel bolts or vice versa. They will corrode and essentially wither away into dust after only a short time, especially if in a humid climate. Use either both stainless or both steel hardware.

  15. Comment by Ron

    Ron Reply February 28, 2017 at 12:16 am

    Wanted to thank you for the plus nut suggestion instead of drilling. Really appreciate your insight and “if we were to do it again” ideas, very helpful information.

    Wondering if you had any suggestions on how to remove a plus nut? Had a couple of Plus Nuts that stripped. The tool doesn’t thread all of the way into the nut. Have you used plus nuts for the smaller 5/16″ holes, and if so, what size plus nut would you suggest? And if I understand things correctly, this would also require another separate installation tool.

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply February 28, 2017 at 7:39 am

      Do you have access to the back of the stripped Plusnut? Maybe you could oversize-drill from the front, while preventing the plusnut rotating from the back? i have not tried this, though. I only used 1/4-20 Plusnut, using a smaller plusnut requires a different tool that matches the threads of the plusnut…
      For a 5/16 hole diameter (0.3125″), a 10-32 (grip length 0.020-0.175) plusnut should fit according to the table in this post.

      Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

  16. Comment by Brad

    Brad Reply February 27, 2017 at 11:11 pm

    Has anyone purchased plusnuts for the pre-drilled holes in the Mercedes Sprinter? If so, would love to hear if there was also a perfect-fit option out there. Thank you!

    • Comment by Em

      Em Reply April 19, 2018 at 12:11 am

      We’re going to try 10-32 in our 2008 sprinter because the 1/4 really only fits into like 4 holes in the van (they are too big)

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  20. Comment by JG

    JG Reply November 28, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Antoine,
    First off, your van looks great! I have been using your website and awesome instructions to work on my Transit.
    Second off, I ordered the pre bulbed plus nut from the link with the factory tool and noticed that they fit easily in some holes and in others they stick out some what. I’m guessing from the bulb. Did you drive them in with a hammer to get them seated flush with the van, or did you start fastening them with it slightly protruding out of the existing hole? Thanks in advance!

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply November 28, 2016 at 1:34 pm

      Hi!
      I’m glad the site is helping 🙂

      Some people drive them with a hammer, I just use the palm of my hand to push them in. In some cases, the Plusnut will not sit perfectly flush, but it’s no big deal as long as it feel solid. It depends on what you are attaching afterward i guess.

      Happy conversion!

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  22. Comment by Stan

    Stan Reply November 16, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Thanks so much for the quick reply. Yea they are the ones you recommended. turns out after some research this morning I should have ordered a rivet nut tool with longer threads. I think I will try a couple of things now (1. Get a longer bolt for the dyi method and (2. Compress the bulb just a little more in a vice first and then see if that will make things easier. Thanks again. I really like your build. Keep up the good work.

  23. Comment by Steven

    Steven Reply November 16, 2016 at 7:34 am

    Stan, I ordered the pre bulbed plus nuts from the link above and found that I needed to add a fender washer to them inorder to keep them from spinning in the thin sheet metal of the walls of my van. Maybe they sent me the wrong size but the package says .280, not sure if that is the top out number or starting number. Once I added the washer they worked great. Good luck

  24. Comment by Stan

    Stan Reply November 15, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    I ordered the plus nuts you recommended but I cannot get them to compress. First I tried the the DYI method then I ordered the rivnut tool. In neither case was I successful in getting the plus nut to spread out. I noticed in both methods that you explained and I tried, that the threads of the dyi or the rivnut tools bolt did not extend all the way into the plusnuts threads. Do you think getting a longer bolt would help or are the plus nuts just to sturdy for my puny ways?

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply November 16, 2016 at 7:27 am

      Did you ordered the PRE-BULBED ones? The compression has been slightly started at factory, it is therefore easier for the customer to compress the plusnut. If you ordered from the link I provided, you have the pre-bulbed. Yes, the bolt should extend all the way into the Plusnut; this reduces the chance of damaging the threads since there is more surface in contact.
      I’m surprise you could not make it work using the tool 🙁 It requires some torque, but not THAT much… maybe you could ask someone else to try?? Or watch some videos on youtube to make sure you do it properly? Good luck!

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  26. Comment by Steven

    Steven Reply October 11, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Is there a reason you chose plusnuts over Heavy Duty Rivnuts? Is holding power different? Thanks for all the work you put in documenting your build, it is much appreciated.

  27. Comment by Marc-Antoine Ricard

    Marc-Antoine Ricard Reply October 9, 2016 at 7:11 pm

    J’adore ton idée. As tu une idée où on peut trouver ça, à part sur internet?

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply October 10, 2016 at 9:59 am

      “Vis-Plus”, à St-Jérome, peut en commander mais elles ont l’air un peu cheap. Y’a peut-être des magasins spécialisés dans les vis aussi dans ton coin?

      • Comment by Pierre-Luc Lebrun

        Pierre-Luc Lebrun Reply May 12, 2017 at 10:19 am

        Tu peux commander directement de Bollhoff Canada (situé à Markham, ON).
        J’attends des prix pour 1/4-20″ en SS. je vous tiendrais au courant des coûts vs Amazon.

        • Comment by Antoine

          Antoine Reply May 12, 2017 at 10:21 am

          C’est bon à savoir! Même si c’est plus cher, ça vaut probablement la peine. J’attend de tes nouvelles!

          • Comment by Pierre-Luc Lebrun

            Pierre-Luc Lebrun May 12, 2017 at 10:47 am

            Pour ton information :

            J’ai récemment fait faire des simulations FEA d’un impact frontal et latéral de véhicule, avec un poids simulé de 55kg sur le toit, pour déterminer les efforts des ancrages et les specs nécessaires de la quincaillerie 1/4″-20 à utiliser, dans un contexte assez similaire.

            Résultats :
            – Wellnuts : ne répondaient pas aux efforts de l’impact. (Ultimate tensile strength autour de 360 lbf)
            – Jacknuts : ne répondaient pas aux efforts de l’impact. Quoique j’aimerais vraiment le tester personnellement. (Ultimate tensile strength 820 @ 1050 lbf)
            – Rivetnuts / Nutserts : Seules les versions métriques M6+ en acier semblaient répondre aux efforts de l’impact, et même là, c’était limite.
            – Hexsert : La version “Heavy-duty en acier de Advel répondait aux efforts sans problème. Disponible en métrique M6 à M12 seulement.
            – Plusnuts SS : La version SS répondait au besoin et pouvait pleintement résister aux efforts. J’essayerai d’obtenir l’information à savoir si la version en acier répondrait également aux efforts de cet impact.

            Donc, bon flair de ta part!

            La visserie suggérée : 1/4″20 en SS 18-8 faisait l’affaire, ça passait la simulation.
            Je me rendrai chez PMG au cours des prochaines semaines pour des “crash-tests” physiques.

        • Comment by Stéphane Lavergne

          Stéphane Lavergne Reply August 24, 2018 at 9:21 am

          Pierre-Luc: avez vous fait ces fameux crash tests finalement?

  28. Comment by Lisa

    Lisa Reply October 9, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Thank you so much for explaining this so well! I’ve been wondering how to mount anything to the existing holes in the van.

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply October 10, 2016 at 9:55 am

      🙂

  29. Comment by K Fran

    K Fran Reply October 9, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Great idea! Thank you for documenting so well! Please keep your remarkable posts coming!

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply October 10, 2016 at 9:54 am

      Thanks!
      There is more coming 🙂

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