Removing Stripped Screws in 3 Easy Steps

Switch to a Flat-Head Screwdriver

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

If you’re trying to remove a Phillips head screw, switch to a manual flat-head screwdriver. By pressing hard, it’s often possible to dig into the stripped head by angling the screwdriver.

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3. Pull with Pliers

Photo: shutterstock.com

Photo: shutterstock.com

Inspect the screw head closely. If there’s any daylight between the screw head and the surface to which it’s fastened…

  1. See if you can get hold of the screw with a pair of locking pliers (also known as vise grips).
  2. If you can get the tool to grab firm hold of the screw, you should be able to turn the pliers until the screw loosens and pulls away.

This isn’t the least labor-intensive option, but under the right circumstances, it works like a charm.

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6. Cut In with an Oscillating Tool

Photo: shutterstock.com

Photo: shutterstock.com

If there’s an oscillating tool in your workshop, such as a Dremel (and if you’re a committed DIYer, you probably should own one of these tools)—affix the metal-cutting disc and create a new, deeper slot in the screw head. Follow up with a flathead screwdriver, pressing it firmly into the indentation and twisting it slowly.

Step 3: Gluing

This is pretty much a universal way to remove a pesky little screw. Fill the stripped head of the screw with a glue (such as epoxy, but hot-melt glue is quick and works very well) and stick the screwdriver in. Wait for the glue to dry or cool, and then apply even pressure as you rotate the screw.

Rubber Glove

Of course, this might be a little cumbersome – holding the rubber band over the end of your screwdriver might be a little fiddly, and if you have issues with dexterity, it could well prove to be a non-starter.

In this case, you might be able to accomplish the same thing simply by putting the screwdriver inside a rubber kitchen glove instead! You can simply put the head of the screwdriver inside one of the fingers of the glove, using that to get additional purchase in the same way as using a rubber band on the tip.

You could also try different thicknesses of glove, if you have them – just be careful to not poke holes through any gloves that you’re hoping to clean any messes up with later on!

Epoxy/Superglue

Finally, you could use epoxy or super glue to affix something to the stripped screw head. Epoxy is probably going to give you a stronger connection, but usually takes quite a bit longer to set.

Depending on the circumstance, you could try gluing another screw on top of the stripped screw, to have something extra to grip onto – or even affix a screwdriver directly into the stripped screw head.

After all, you can’t get much more grip than chemically bonding the pieces together!

This could well, of course, result in the sacrifice of the screwdriver, so be prepared to throw it away after use if you can’t cleanly remove the screw and glue/epoxy afterwards – but that could well be a very small price to pay compared to not being able to repair your laptop!

Step 1: Rubber Band

In this approach, grab a thick rubber band and, using a screwdriver a size bigger than the screw, push the screwdriver on top of the rubber band, on top of the screw. Apply firm pressure and turn gently. Remember, righty-tighty, lefty-loosey!

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.

Warnings

  • Be careful when using power tools on a stuck screw, since they can cause damage to the screw and anything around it. Wield them with caution and keep your fingers clear.

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Use Rubber Bands for Grip

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Wide rubber bands work well for providing the driver bit with enough traction on the stripped screw. Cut the rubber band with scissors, then lay it across the screw head. Place the driver bit on the rubber band and press hard while turning the screw counter-clockwise.

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