When you encounter a stripped screw, it can be an enormously frustrating thing to deal with – no matter whether you are a professional or DIY enthusiast. In case you aren’t in the know, a stripped screw is one where the head has become extremely damaged and bored out to the point that you cannot get a grip on it with a screwdriver. There are several different techniques to remove these stubborn screws which we are going to discuss in more detail below.
Stripped Screw Removal Tips
1. Use A Pair Of Pliers
Your first option for the screw removal tool is a pair of pliers. These are useful if the screw isn’t flush to the surface and you have a bit of room to grab on and pull. You can simply use them to grip the screw head in a firm manner and twist it until you manage to prize it free.
2. Try A Manual Screwdriver
If you have screwdriver sets, you still may be able to remove the stripped screw manually with one of the tools in your box. All you need is a hammer to tap the screw down. This should lodge the screwdriver into the screw head firmly. If your screw has a Phillps head, a flat-head screwdriver that is narrow enough to fit within the hole can do the job. Another option may be to try an electric screwdriver. Check out our handy guide to the best screwdriver sets here.
3. A Rubber Band Or Steel Wool
Another possibility that you could attempt is using a rubber band or steel wool. Essentially, this gives you a bit of extra grip on the stripped screw head in order to complete the extraction. Start by putting the rubber band over the top of the stripped screw. You can then insert the screwdriver firmly into the screw head. Extracting the screw can be done with some slow yet firm pressure. You are going to need to exercise some patience when you are attempting this particular technique. If you try to take it too quickly, you will only end up shredding the rubber band to pieces. An alternative to a rubber band is some steel wool, which can also provide the grip that you are looking for.
4. Use A Screw Extractor Kit
Some of the more stubborn screws can be loosened up with a screw extractor kit. As it says in the name, these are tools that are specifically made to deal with problems such as this one. There are several different sizes of screw extractors, so you need to pick the one that is best able to fit the screw head that you are dealing with. You need to ensure that you set the drill into reverse and continue drilling until the stuck screw is gradually loosened out. Another option along these lines is to use a left-handed drill bit, which is automatically designed to go in reverse. You will need to apply some firm pressure before you attempt to remove the stripped screw. Once you feel the bite, there is every chance that you will be able to get the screw out without too much trouble.
5. Use A Rotary Tool
If you are struggling with the other techniques, another option is to use a rotary tool such as a cordless drill. You will need to securely attach a thin cutting disk onto it – with a depth enough to fit a flathead screwdriver. You then need to make a cut large enough to fit the screwdriver inside. However, this is a delicate operation. If you go too far, your screwdriver will not catch and the whole endeavor will have been for nothing. You should also make sure that you wear the proper personal protective equipment including safety goggles as the loose metal shavings can end up flying all over the place.
6. Try An Impact Driver
Another potential option that you have to work with is a manual tool known as an impact driver. You will need to ensure the bit is good enough quality to remove the threaded screws easily. You should double-check to make sure that the screw head doesn’t have any loose dirt or debris that is preventing you from getting a good grip on it. You can then insert the impact driver and start banging it with a hammer. You should then get to the point that the bit settles in firmly, which will allow you to rotate and loosen up the screw. You should then be able to get it out using either a drill or a screwdriver depending on your own personal preferences.
7. Apply Some Liquid Friction
There are now some specialized products out there that are designed specifically for the purpose of removing stripped screws. Essentially, these are a liquid that you put onto the stripped screw, which helps to give an increased sense of friction between it and the screwdriver. In essence, it does a similar job to the rubber band option that we discussed above. However, this is not as effective a solution as some of the others that we discussed above, and it tends to work better with screws that are not as far stripped.
Removing a stripped screw can be a bit of a pain, but as you have seen with all the methods above, you have plenty of different options to complete this job effectively. If one doesn’t work as well as you had hoped, you can simply move onto the next. For a visual guide, check out this Youtube video from the Ultimate Handyman: