Repairing a Cast-Iron Christmas Tree Stand

I don’t expect the specifics of this project to apply to many, if any, readers. But I do hope you’ll stick around and see the problem I faced and how I fixed it. I have owned a wonderful enamel-coated cast-iron Christmas tree stand for many, may years. This year, we had a little uh-oh when placing the tree. The retaining bolts weren’t tightened enough, the tree fell over, and bent those bolts in the process:

The aftermath: a stand with bent bits

I hobbled along with tightening them just right this year to get the tree to stay, but as you can see in the above picture, the bolts in the top and bottom of the image are seriously tweaked. The one on the left is missing the retaining nut on the end. It’s been missing for a few years.

The fix was surprisingly quick and easy, but required me to be mindful about going to Home Depot with the right comparison parts in hand. I took out the good eye-bolt and retaining nut, took them in, used them to find the right replacement parts — or at least, as close to right as I could get.

The replacements

The closest match I could find was a hook (right), rather than an eye, (left) but with a little direct pressure from a vice, I could tighten down the hook (center).

Squishing the hook in a vice

The retaining nuts, which push into the tree without piercing it too hard, were a little more tricky. They look like a combo of nut and washer, and prevent the bolt from going all the way through:

The nut, from two angles.

For this, I roughed up the surface a little with a rotary tool, then used 2-part epoxy on a nut and washer.

The next step was to crank the bent bolts all the way in, and use a metal-cutting rotary tool disc to slice through them at a point before the bend, so that I could completely unscrew and replace them.

And finally, I inserted the replacement not-quite-eye bolts and the replacement nut.

The final result

And there you go. A trip to Home Depot and a rotary tool — about two hours in total, but something I’d been postponing for weeks, if not months.

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Brian Enigma

Brian Enigma is a Portlander, manipulator of atoms & bits, minor-league blogger, and all-around great guy. He typically writes about the interesting “maker” projects he's working on, but sometimes veers off into puzzles, software, games, local news, and current events.

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