Lining Up Screw Holes

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2015 • all rights reserved

Mounting deck hardware on your boat? Once you slather on the sealant, it can be hard to line up the mounting holes again. Two DIY tips to make it a lot easier!

If you’ve ever rebedded deck hardware or installed something new, you know what a pain it can be to get the bolt/screw holes lined up.

The typical scenario is that you dry mount the item, drill any new holes necessary, tape around the hardware, remove the hardware, clean the area with solvent, slather on the sealant, put the item back in place . . . and then try to get it lined up exactly as it was before and find the bolt holes to actually mount it.

You want to get it mounted and the tape — with the excess sealant — off as quickly as possible so that you get a  nice clean tape line and nothing sticking where it shouldn’t. And since you know time is of the essence, it’s impossible to get everything lined up quickly. It’s even worse when you have a circular mount, such as that in the photo, where there’s no obvious “this way up.”

We’ve discovered two things to make the process easier. First, when we dry mount the item, we use a Sharpie (permanent marker) to make some guide marks on the tape far enough away from the mounting area that the sealant isn’t likely to ooze and cover them up.

Mounting deck hardware on your boat? Once you slather on the sealant, it can be hard to line up the mounting holes again. Two DIY tips to make it a lot easier!

We mark all the holes and anything else that might help us get things lined up quickly again.

Mounting deck hardware on your boat? Once you slather on the sealant, it can be hard to line up the mounting holes again. Two DIY tips to make it a lot easier!

And then when we’re getting things lined up after the sealant has been applied, we use an ice pick to find the holes. Long, thin and pointed, it’s much easier than just trying to put the bolt in and wiggle it around until its exactly lined up. We’ll do one of two things depending on which seems to work best in a given situation:

  • Put the ice pick in one hole and get it perfectly lined up, then carefully remove it and put the bolt in the hole we just lined up; or
  • Leave the ice pick in place and put one of the other bolts in.

Mounting deck hardware on your boat? Once you slather on the sealant, it can be hard to line up the mounting holes again. Two DIY tips to make it a lot easier!

Sometimes one technique works best, sometimes the other. By the way, we use an ice pick on lots of other “screw” projects to line holes up. It’s one of the great tools on the boat!

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Comments

  1. Excellent!

  2. Jonathan says:

    wow, taping, total waste of time, solvent cleans the excess up in a jiffy.

  3. I just put in wooden toothpicks. Drop the hardware over the pick and then pull the toothpicks one at a time as I put in the screws. Easy Peezy.

  4. Tape makes it easier to remove excess. Nice post.

  5. I often use either toothpicks in the holes or a small drill bit

  6. Steve Burke says:

    I’ve switched over to butyl tape…no “goop” to deal with.

  7. Alex Tarlecky says:

    Why not just use butyl rubber? Much cleaner and it stays flexible/grippy forever.

  8. Oh dear.
    I put the Sealant on the fitting. Just a bit more then required. Not over the holes, but around them. Then I can hold the fitting off the deck until the bolts are through. This may be a two man job. Lower the job onto the deck, wait for the sealant to go off before tightening fully.
    Am I doing it wrong? Seems to work.

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