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Tips for Removing a Stripped Screw

Tips for Removing a Stripped Screw

A stripped screw can make the simplest of jobs a real pain in the neck. To help avoid a lot of frustration (and maybe spare those around you from learning some colorful new words), we’ve put together some tips on getting that pesky screw out of your way:

Avoid power
You’ll need to avoid power tools, but still add power. Confusing? Think about it this way -- just putting a good old screwdriver in your hands will probably provide you with more torque and versatility than simply expecting the power tool to do it all for you. If things still aren’t working for you, try using a bigger screwdriver than the screw is meant for. This can give you a little extra leverage -- hopefully enough to help you get it out. Before giving up this method, try tapping the handle of the screwdriver with a hammer, to seat it as best as possible.

If the screw you are trying to remove is badly stripped, you may have to go with a more extreme option. Here are some other ideas in case that happens:

Stuff it

Try placing a rubber band over the screw head and pressing it in with the screwdriver tip. The rubber will fill the gaps and provide a little extra traction. You could also try a small wad of steel wool for this.

Screw extractor
A popular first option for removing a stripped screw is using a screw extractor. Although it is much like a regular screwdriver, the major difference is that the extractor has gripping metal threads on the tip to help grab onto what remains of the head. Press down hard and move it slowly, giving the tip a chance to bite. If done properly, you should have the screw off in no time.

Drill it
If just putting an extractor on the head has failed, your next option would be to drill deeper so the extractor can get a good bite. Using a drill bit with a diameter smaller than that of the screw, drill directly down into the middle of the stripped head. Drill slowly and don’t go very far, or the screw head may come completely off; leaving you with a worse problem than before. While drilling, remember that metal can fly up at any time, so be sure to wear eye protection. When your hole is complete, try using the screw extractor again. This time you should have positive results.