Home Repair

10 Ways to Remove a Stripped Screw

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Stripped screws are tough to deal with especially when using inefficient methods. If you’re looking to remove a stripped screw, there are some handy tricks out there that will finally help to get it out. DIY enthusiasts or anyone who tackled a repair job knows how frustrating it can be to struggle with a stripped screw. You might get lucky sometimes and only require a smaller or larger head size for the screwdriver but other times things won’t be that easy.

Stubborn stripped screws can be truly annoying but thankfully they’re not impossible to handle. You will probably be required to bust out some specialized tools for the removal job but it’s not a very challenging task in most cases. There’s a generous number of solutions relying on simple tools and common materials that are probably in your workshop already. Before considering more complex stripped screw methods, it’s worth trying out these practical tricks.

1. Drilling Extraction

It may sound strange but drilling a small hole inside the screw can be the right solution to get out the damaged screw. A deeper reach might be able to provide a superior grip for the fastener. This trick requires the use of a drill bit for metal and a lot of finesse. You should carefully drill the hole without reaching too much down because the head of the screw could be broken by accident.

2. Pliers

This method only works great if the screw isn’t fully screwed so there’s enough of a grip that can be used with the pliers. If you’ve managed to get a good grip on the stripped screw, then it’s simply a matter of twisting and turning until you get it out safely. You will need a solid pair of locking pliers that will hold the damaged screw in a vise grip. Here’s a versatile tool from Amazon that offers reliable performance.

3. Rubber Band

One great trick to consider for the removal of a stripped screw will require a piece of rubberband or steel wool. The idea is to get that bit of extra grip to manage the extraction process. Put the rubber band on the screw and then carefully bring your screwdriver tip to unscrew the fastener. Make sure you’re paying close attention to the applied pressure to avoid chewing up the rubber band.

4. Flat-head Screwdriver

It may seem quite obvious once you hear about this solution but many people can overlook this simple trick to extract the stripped screw. A manual flat-head screwdriver can be surprisingly helpful to handle a stuck Phillips head screw. Depending on the severity of the issue, this method could be a little labor-intensive. You will need to press hard to get a proper grip while correctly angling the screwdriver for satisfying extraction results.

5. Hammer Tap

If you have a hammer close at hand, consider using it to tap on a screwdriver positioned against the stripped screw. There’s no need to use a lot of force, just enough to reseat the manual screwdriver and deliver sufficient grip to let you get the screw out. In most cases, this method will work nicely but consider bringing in a rubber band against the head of the screw to enhance the gripping level.

6. Abrasive Powder

Struggling to remove a stripped screw is usually due to a lack of sufficient friction. This is where this trick comes in to help. A bit of abrasive cleaning powder can make wonders in terms of preventing bit slipping. Try adding some powder to the stripped screw and see if you can take it out now.

7. Left Handed Drill Bit

With the help of left handed drill bits, you might get enough gripping power to extract the pesky screw effortlessly. These drill bits are intended for reverse operation. The trick is to use one that’s smaller than the head of the stripped screw. The reversal process should work as long as you manage to obtain a tight fit inside the screw. You don’t need a lot of pressure for this method to provide great results.

8. Rotary Tool

Another interesting solution to remove a stripped screw, this one relies on having a rotary tool laying around the shop. Combined with a thin cutting disk, this tool might be able to create the necessary slit in the problematic screw so you can properly grip it using the screwdriver. Don’t be too hasty in making a large cut at once because you could make things worse. It’s important to take it slowly and make small cuts.

9. Glued Nut

This could be considered a last resort method so it’s not really recommended unless you’re very careful about the process. You will need to glue a nut on the screw so you can just simply use a wrench for the extraction. The problem is that you need to avoid gluing the nut to the wood. Alternatively, consider welding the nut to the screw’s head. This is only worth trying if you already have the specialized welding equipment required.

10. Screw Extractor Kit

When all else fails, it’s probably time to purchase a screw extractor kit that’s specifically designed for the purpose of stripped screw removal. We actually recommend having one in your workshop just as a precaution. You never know when it comes in handy as damaged screw accidents can happen occasionally. Here’s an affordable set from Amazon that’s compatible with any drill out there.

By Stefan Bucur

Stefan is the founder and owner of Rhythm of the Home. He has 6 years of experience in home improvement, interior design, cleaning and organizing.

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