How to Unscrew a Stripped Screw

What causes a stripped screw?

There are a few ways that screws can become stripped:

  • Using low-quality tools
  • Using the wrong-sized tools
  • Using the wrong tools in general
  • Working carelessly
  • Turning screws with screwdrivers into the material or object at an angle instead of parallel or in-line
  • Using a screwdriver that’s too large or too small
  • Over-tightening the screw
  • Using the screw gun on full power too long after the screw has stopped moving

Whether you’re moving or redecorating, when you come across a stripped screw, it can be a problem. So, how do you get a stripped screw out? Here are four hacks that you can try when you find yourself in that frustrating situation.

Source: The Family Handyman

If you have some rubber bands handy, try this useful trick from The Family Handyman to get a stripped screw out. Take your rubber band and place it between the screw that’s stuck and your hand-held screwdriver. The rubber band gives you extra grip and fills in the places that the screwdriver isn’t latching onto. This can give you extra torque and help you unstick the stripped screw.

2. Pick up your pliers

If there's a little extra room between the screw a

If there’s a little extra room between the screw and the object it’s fastened in, you may be able to use pliers to get the stripped screw out. Take the pliers or vise grips and latch it onto the screw. Then, firmly hold the pliers and start twisting the screw out. You may damage the wood from which you’re pulling the screw out, so keep that in mind before resorting to this tactic.

3. Hand over the hammer

Using a screwdriver and a hammer combo can be anot

Using a screwdriver and a hammer combo can be another way to get a stripped screw out. Use a hammer to tap the screwdriver into the screw and then try turning the screw. By using the hammer on the screwdriver, you’re firmly lodging the screwdriver into place, giving you additional grip in which to pull out the screw.

4. Depend on the drill

If you have a drill bit, you can try drilling a sm

If you have a drill bit, you can try drilling a small hole into the stripped screw. This will give you a little more room in the screw to take either a screwdriver or a screw extractor, latch it on and try turning it to remove the screw. But, when using power tools, make sure you do it slowly and don’t turn the drill bit to full power. Otherwise, you could cause more damage.

6. Try different screwdrivers

Perez says to try a manual screwdriver if the drill driver isn’t working, drills sometimes have too much torque and can strip the screw even more. Using different-sized screwdrivers might give you the grip you need. Try one with a smaller or larger tip or blade. If you have a stripped Phillips-head screw, try using a small flat-head screwdriver to remove it. 

To be prepared, Perez suggests having a range of different sized and different types of screwdrivers in your toolbox. He also says to try using a brand new screwdriver as the problem may be with a worn tip or blade. 

Video

2. Using an impact driver

This manual tool is great for removing threaded screws but make sure you use a good quality bit. Choose the correct screwdriver bit, ie Phillips or flathead and then insert it and tighten it. Next ensure the screw head is clear of any loose dirt and debris and ensure the bit is in the correct direction as you don’t want to tighten it up! Make sure you’re wearing your safety glasses and place the impact driver bit snugly into the screw head. Strike the handle end of the impact driver several times with a hammer. The bit will set firmly into the screw head and the impact driver head will rotate, loosening the screw. You should now be able to remove the screw by using either a drill or screwdriver.

The Different Methods for Removing Stripped Allen Screws

There are different ways to extract a stripped Allen screw from a piece of furniture or any other kind of surface. However, you cannot use all of the available methods in all situations.

Sometimes, the condition of the Allen screw will determine which tools and techniques you can use. You may also end up having to purchase a new tool in some cases.

Method 1: Turn to Your Trusty Pair of Pliers

If the hex screw you’re looking to remove has a fully exposed head, removing it will be relatively easy. You’ll just need the pliers in your toolbox.

With pliers in hand, grab the head of the hex screw firmly. Make sure that the jaws are locked tightly over the screw head. You can tell the grip of the pliers is tight if the head is compressed a bit.

Now that the jaws of the pliers have secured the screw head, start twisting the screw out. Be careful with how much force you apply to prevent the screw head from breaking off. You can pull out the last bit of the screw by hand to prevent it from breaking. If you encounter resistance, return to the pliers to extract the screw even more.

5. Using left handed drill bits

This isn’t a joke, they really to exist! Left handed drill bits are designed to be used in reverse. Choose a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the head on the screw, then put the bit in the drill and tighten. Make sure the drill is in reverse and apply firm pressure to the screw head and start the drill. Once it bites there’s a good chance that it will remove the screw.

Dremel a Slit in the Head

A Dremel has tons of uses, but for our current predicament, it can be used to make a flat slit in the head of a screw.

You use a Dremel to cut a slit in the screw and then use a flathead screwdriver to take it out. Here’s a video showing the method:

This typically only works if the head is sticking out a little. You must also practice extreme caution.

Glue a Bit to the Stripped Screw

Another idea others have used successfully is glue. If you glue your bit to the stripped screw, you won’t need to actually grip the screw to get it out.

I’ve also heard of people actually try to solder an old bit onto the screw. I’d say you should only go this route if you’re really desperate though.

Switch to a Manual Screwdriver

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

If you’ve been trying to remove the stripped screw with your drill, often switching to a manual screwdriver for the same screw type is enough to extract the screw. A manual screwdriver gives you more control over the torque than with a drill—which can sometimes run away from you.

2. Drill a New Slot

Photo: shutterstock.com

Photo: shutterstock.com

Sometimes drilling a small hole into a stripped screw can allow your screwdriver to reach deeper into—and achieve a better grip on—the stuck fastener. If you’re going to try this approach, make certain to use a drill bit designed for use on metal, not wood. And don’t drill too far down; the screw head could pop off!

4. Use a rubber band

You may be able to use a rubber band to remove a stripped screw. Get a rubber band that’s as wide as the screw head and place it over the head, then use a screwdriver or drill driver on top of it. The rubber may fill in voids and give the tool more grip. 

Perez says a similar handyman trick is to use steel wool in the same way. Since everyone has a rubber band or steel wool, this can be the easiest solution for a stripped screw. 

5. Enhance Your Screwdrivers Grip with a Hammer

Photo: shutterstock.com

Photo: shutterstock.com

If the screw is made of soft metal—which is the kind most likely to become stripped in the first place—grab your hammer.

  1. Use the hammer to tap the screwdriver down into the screw head.
  2. Lodge the screwdriver as firmly as you can into the screw head.

Doing so may provide the extra grip you need to twist the fastener.

Why does it happen?

The most typical reason behind a stripped screw is the use of incorrect tools. If you use an inferior quality screw or screwdriver, that also can result in a stripped screw. 

Cut a Slot For a Flat-Head Screwdriver

The Spruce

Use a rotary cutting tool or a multi-tool fitted with a metal blade to cut a slot on the screw. Cut the slot straight across to create a groove for the blade of a flat-head screwdriver.

Things You’ll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Screw extractor, screw extractor bit, or screw extractor kit. ($1-$20 in your local hardware store)
  • Socket wrench
  • Power drill
  • Metal-drilling drill bit
  • Eye protection
  • Work gloves
  • Hammer or mallet
  • Impact wrench
  • Screw extractor
  • Locking pliers
  • Duct tape, rubber band, steel wool, or abrasive pad

How Can You Prevent Screws from Getting Stripped?

Preventing stripped screws is important given how often you use them in the kitchen, bathroom, and other places throughout your home. The good news is that you don’t have to do much to limit the occurrence of stripped screws.

Start by checking if you’re using the right tools. Take a moment to check if your screwdrivers and drills pair correctly with the screws you’re inserting or extracting.

You should also avoid using worn down tools as much as possible. Tools that are in rough shape can only offer suboptimal performance. Their suboptimal performance can cause damage to items they come in contact with such as screws.

Working carefully is also a good idea in general and especially recommended when it comes to screws. When you’re more mindful of what you’re doing and able to concentrate better, you’re less likely to damage the screw heads.

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How to Fix a Stripped Screw

There isn’t much you can do with a stripped screw once you remove it. But you have options to use the hole of the stripped screw still. 

  • Glue an anchor in the hole.
  • Use a larger screw.
  • Fill the hole and add another screw.
  • Get a screw repair kit.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can You Use An Impact Driver To Remove Screws?

Yes, you can remove a screw with an impact driver. Using an impact driver is like using a power drill to drive or extract screws. You can also remove screws with a drill in reverse. One big difference between these two power tools is the bit attached to the tool’s chuck. Impact driver bits come with a hex shank that attaches with the chuck collar perfectly, and you don’t have to tighten it. But with a drill, you have to tighten the chuck. Impact drivers are the best tool to drive or remove a screw. You can even remove a stripped or rusted screw with an impact driver. 

2. Why Does My Impact Drivers Strip Screws?

The problem is not with the driver; the problem is with the selection of your tools. The reason behind your impact driver strip screws can be: 

  • Wrong impact driver
  • Worn screwdriver bits
  • Poor quality screws
  • Poor quality screwdriver bit
  • Over-tightening the screw
  • Lack of pressure
  • No pilot hole
  • No screw lubricant

3. How Do You Remove A Screw That Has Been Stripped?

You can use an impact driver to remove a stripped screw. There are other ways to remove a stripped screw, such as you can use a rubber band and a regular screwdriver to remove a stripped screw. If the screw is too tight and can’t remove in any way, you can use a rotary tool to remove the stripes screw. 

4. How Do You Remove A Stripped Hex Screw?

The best way to remove a stripped hex screw is to spray it with a rust remover product. The following best method is to remove a stripped hex screw is to bit it with a hammer. A rotary tool is also an excellent way to remove a stripped hex screw or a rusted screw. You must wear eye protection glass when you do the operation. 

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