By Cory Doctorow at 11:10 am Sun, Jun 13, 2010
How To Remove a Stripped Screw Without an Extractor
(via Making Light)
The easiest way to remove a stripped screw is with a blowtorch and a nail gun. Heat the screw until the metal softens, then drive a nail into it. Once it cools, you should be able to yank it out with a claw hammer.
On my homeworld, by the time you’ve heated a screw up enough to soften the metal, the wood surrounding it has already charred to ashes.
I wonder if BP has considered a very large, stripped screw. They’re obviously hard to dislodge.
Also, dipping the tip of your bit in engine valve grinding compound will produce good results.
I was going to post another comment, but on second thought…aaah, screw it!
That’s so obvious, yet I’ve never thought of it. Genius!
Really? You’re all going to leave it to me to point out the veritable cornucopia of innuendo buried in Catram’s comment?
You guys are losing your touch. What is it, Sunday?
Every time I try and figure out how to work my tiny bit into this mix, I find I’m hard up for ideas?
Too many little nubbins there to play with, and I just don’t have the capacity to satisfy them all?
I’m restraining myself until the follow-up piece about filling the damaged screw hole with a bit of caulk.
Also drilling out the screw and using an Easy Out. Duh.
Hmm – I’ve never found that any of these tips work that well to be honest. Using a decent screwdriver, maybe giving it a tap with a hammer to seat it, and then apply good pressure nearly always works.
In the attached picture, you’d be much better putting mole grips on the exposed head and removing it that way.
The rubber bND WORKED. tHANKS 4 THE INFO
A hammer impact driver for $10 works wonders – pulled out a stripped screw near the brakes on a 20 year old car that had completely rusted together. A few whacks with a hammer and it was twisting free, could not *believe* it.
Or switching to “Robertson”-type screws will solve most stripped screw problems.
I tried this trick once and it didn’t work at all. The screwdriver just tore up the rubber band.
Same. Just tore up the rubber band.
Same here. My name is also Brian, though, so perhaps it just doesn’t work for Our Kind.
Stripper ?? Screw ??? Rubber band !!!!!!!
To remove a stripped screw, you could try using either a socket wrench, as this will give you an extra few inches as leverage. Or alternatively use a screw extractor which is just like a screwdriver, just with a hard wearing and rough thread on the top which will dig into the screw head, once again giving more leverage.
Socket Wrench – http://www.orbitalfasteners.co.uk/product_detail.php?id=4569
Screw Extractors – http://www.orbitalfasteners.co.uk/search.php?keywords=Screw+Extractor&x=0&y=0
Hmmm, I wonder if coating the screwdriver tip with liquid rubber tape would work better. Would actually coat the surfaces that contact the screw.
You have obviously never had to try and remove stripped decking screws. They only come away with copious foul language and a crow bar.
Y’know, I found that out, too. They don’t put that technique in the how-to books.
One way to remove a rusted deck screw is to remove all the other screws in that plank and then rotate the plank counterclockwise until the guilty screw is removed. Voila!
Um, nice thought, but wouldn’t the other deck planks get in the way?
Also: A phillips head stripped out during insertion usually has enough slot profile left in place that it can be backed out carefully. Strip out a Robertson and it’s circular: it won’t be backing out under power any time soon.
This is true, the Robertson does strip out round. What a lot of people may not realise is that that nice perfect hole is the right size to gently tap in the next-size bit. The corners will bite outside of the circle and you should get some purchase backing the screw out with LOW speed. I have never had trouble using this technique unless they were brass screws.
Thank you, Kaden, for your polite tolerance of a clinically insane idea.
Vise grips #1. Dremel slot #2.
For all the folks who didn’t actually read the link’s text:
“Placing a wide rubber band in between the stripped screw and the screw driver can sometimes help give enough grip to remove a slightly stripped screw head.
Vice-Grips work great! Sometimes filing the edges of the the screw will help give you more grip.
Odd, I seem to find myself aroused.
Get the Craftsman screw extractors – the ones that look like a countersink bit. It’s worked on frozen car screws, stripped wood screws, rusted deck screws, etc – and never failed me. Also, two other tips – try the easy-out spray that uses cold temp or try using a portable torch (if the workpiece wouldn’t be damaged by open flame) – heat differentials are your friend in the fight against frozen/rusted/stripped screws.
I tried this yesterday. It gave a little, but not a full rotation, and then the rubber band tore apart.
@ #7, right you are sir or madam! but what did i do with that thing, AND what does it look like again?
I agree that most of this stuff never works. What I have to to is grab my Dremel and my trusty cutoff wheel and saw a new deeper flat-head slot into the screw. Then just use a flat-head to take it out. If it’s too stripped for that, I cut the screw-head off, remove the wood (or object that it’s securing) and use some vice-grips to twist it by the shank. So-far, nothing’s stopped this method. (Knock on wood.)
Yah right, and I bet club soda removes stains too.
vice grips, yes
I second that– vice grips work fine, especially when the head is far enough above the surface that you can get a grip on it and twist it out (of course you may end up snapping off the head, in which case there’s nothing left to do but drill it out.)
Learned something new. Apparently vice is a British English spelling for what is commonly spelled as vise in American English. In any case, the US brand of locking pliers is spelled Vise-Grip.
File a nice straight groove.
Use a standard bit.
If a (rather heavy duty) soldering iron or gun is handy, try heating the screw with it.
Otherwise, yeah, the turn-it-into-a-flathead-screw-with-the-Dremel trick works well if you don’t mind inevitably gouging the neighboring surface.
Anyone who suggests one of those EZ Out style extractors is nuts. You are playing with fire there. When one finally snaps on you, you’ll be REALLY screwed. You can grab them with pliers because they’re very brittle, but you can’t drill them out with normal bits because they’re so hard. Your only option is a carbide cutter of some sort or attempting to break the EZ Out up with a punch.
ITS A TRAP!
Anymore, I reach straight for the drill, remove the fastener and tap a new hole if that’s the material I’m working in..
Personally, I have found cursing and getting grumpy to work very well. It makes me walk away, and I come back half an hour later with a solution. Doesn’t matter what the solution is, my subconscious figures it out for me!
Vice-grips, heating the screw (in the case of wood), and cutting a slot can all be excellent was to remove a stuck screw.
If the fastener is counter sunk and/or you can’t risk damaging the surrounding material into which your smeared screw is inserted try JB Weld. Basically the idea is you put a *tiny* blob of JB Weld into the depression of the faster (remember it will bond permanently with just about anything), and then insert a Philips bit into the goo. Then take a piece of masking or duct tape, and tape the bit in place for the 15 hour cure time. After that you can use the driver of your choice to gently remove the screw.
Personally, I have never seen the rubber band trick work for much of anything harder than pre-drilled holes in soft-woods.
I service equipment that uses Phillips screw for a living.
Using a brand-new right-sized screwdriver tip, when it’s a Phillips screw, usually will allow you to drive the screw out – given the proper technique: firm downward pressure and keeping the screwdriver perfectly vertical while turning.
(Please add my voice to all those folks saying “this won’t work”.
I’ve never tried either, but it looks cool!
I stumbled across this site trying to find a solution to my problem, and while reading some great ideas (and the not so great) I came up with one of my own that no one has suggested on this or any other site that I’ve crawled through so far. This solution is for the 1 screw or nut you just can’t get out, only because the end result is the loss of whatever bit you choose to use completely. I haven’t tried it yet but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work, it might cost you some out of pocket unless you’ve got it laying around and about 6 hours to perform….but I’m almost certain it’ll remove whatever pain in the ass screw/nut you’re having issues with.
The infamous JB Weld, this combination of epoxies can be purchased at almost any automotive or hardware store. Combine the 2 resins/epoxies (only use as much as you’ll need) use an old business card or thin cardboard and cover the top of the screw. Now this is where your patience will be put to test, wait about 20-30 minutes until it’s viscosity is thick enough to support the weight of whatever bit it is you’re going to use. Make sure the bit is in the screw far enough to provide enough torque to remove the screw once JB has dried. You might have to hold the bit in place for a couple minutes if you attempted to put it in place before JB weld has become firm enough to hold the bit. Once bit is in place allow JB Weld to fully dry and solidify (approx 6 hours, RELAX! Grab a beer and unwind for a bit). When JB dries its extremely solid and can withstand some serious abuse….so now it’s time to remove your pain in the ass screw. Attach your driver to your bit and torque SLOWLY, don’t rush it. If you’ve done this right, your end result should be success minus a bit. You can attempt to remove the bit from the screw, but I doubt this will happen so good luck in doing so.
It would seem that some commentators consider this to be a screwy idea.
For badly stripped screws I pull out a Dremel rotary cutter and cut a slice into the top of the screw, as deeply as possible. Presto, you’ve got a flat-head screw. This even works if the screw-head has completely broken off.
Maybe I just misunderstand, but is this technique -not- for stripped screws but rather for screws whose heads have been rounded off?
I’ve removed a lot of broken screws using the chuck of a cordless drill. Just clamp the screw in the chuck, tighten it in fwd, and then use reverse. Works great if there is at least 1/4″ exposed. Would work great with the pointy end too!
If you can get at the screw with a good pair of locking pliers (brand name omitted to avoid controversy) you can instead just use the chuck on your drill gun. take the bit out of the drill gun and open the chuck to accommodate the screw head, then tighten the chuck down on the screw as hard as possible. It will usually grip tight enough to turn the screw if you go slowly at first. Way faster than working the screw out with pliers, and you already have the proper tool right there
I was going to correct everyone for misspelling vise grip as vice grip, but with all the talk of screws, stripping, and rubbers… maybe not.
Quicker on the draw, and more succinct… kudos to you, sir.
My problem is a Robertson screw stuck in a hole slightly too large. I used the wrong Robertson screw in a bed frame and now the screw goes back and forth even with the right bit. I’ve tried to pull it, drill a side hole with an angle to push it out. Nothing work, I doubt that a rubber band could change it, but I’ll try. Any other idea? Thanks
Use a Dremel to cut a new slot. Or glue the tool into the stripped slot. Or even better, use the right size screwdriver the next time. If it slips at all when you’re working the screw, stop and try a different size.
Just a pedantic side question– is everyone referring to the tool “vice” grips (rather than the historically and etymologically correct) vise grips because of the sexy time theme of the comment thread?
Spelled as pronounced: as is “device”, versus “devise”.
The spelling here (IMO) reflects the pronunciation. Pass the “vice grips”…not, pass the “vise grips”.
Single most helpful thing I’ve read in awhile. Thanks!
“Vice” would be the British English spelling – hence the confusion of spellings, perhaps?
Also, Cory, I’m probably being really dumb here, but don’t you mean use a _smaller_ screwdriver, not a bigger screwdriver? Surely the rubber band is to fill the extra space between the worn head of the screw and the screwdriver bit?
Haven’t tried it, but I don’t buy the rubber band proposal. At least not with the screws I usually get stuck with removing.
Re the valve grinding compound: There’s actually a version of this sold in small bottles specifically for damaged-fastener-removal purposes.
Using square-head screws prevents most stripping from happening in the first place — but, alas, doesn’t help if someone else has already made the mistake.
Cutting a slot does often work.
If you don’t like the tapping-variety removers, you might want to think about the variety which drills out the column around the offending screw. Lift the board free, use pliers to remove the now-exposed screw. Fill the hole in the board by gluing in a suitable plug (preferably cut from the same kind of wood with matched grain — I think it’s possible to get these with matched plug-cutters) and reuse, or set it aside for an application where you can work around the hole and slap in a replacement.
If you are about to remove a screw that you think may be tricky, a good tip is to tighten the screw ever si slightly before trying to remove it. This will ‘unlock’ the screw from paint, rust etc and any damage to the head at this point will be on the opposite side of the screw.
Anyone know how to extract a screw with the POINT up (instead of the head as you have demonstrated here)? The head is inside wood so can’t access that. I’m trying to lasso it with fishing line and am unsuccessful. Thanks for any help!
Hmmm… You’ve probably already figured something out, but, if not, try this:
1. Place another piece of wood over the tip of the screw.
2. Drill a hole through the wood and into the screw shaft itself.
3. Remove the second piece of wood.
4. Insert another screw, slightly larger than the hole, and tighten until the first screw has backed out of the hole.
If you need to get the screw to come out point first, follow the first 3 steps, then use a hole saw to remove a plug with the screw in it.
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