A lot of us pride ourselves on being handy with tools and adept at DIY home improvements. However, sometimes even the best of us are stumped by something as seemingly simple as removing a stripped screw. In this short read, we’re going to talk about what are the best tools to help in removing a stripped screw, and what you could do if you had no tools at all.

What is a stripped screw?

set fasteners screws box

When a screw gets screwed in and out very often, with time, the head of the screw wears out. What this means is that your screwdriver or drill’s driver bit has nothing to hold on to. This means the screw can no longer be easily removed. However, with the right tools, a stripped screw can still be easily removed.

Tips and tricks

A flat head screwdriver

Sometimes, the best way to remove a Philips head screw is by using a manual flat head screwdriver. By applying sufficient pressure, you could wedge the screwdriver into the stripped screw head, making the extraction process easier.

Sometimes, just using a smaller or larger screwdriver does the trick as well.

A screwdriver and hammer

hammer and screws

This trick works if the screw is made of soft metal. If it is, all you need to do is place a flathead screwdriver into the screw. Then, tap the screwdriver gently with a hammer to drive it into the head. Once it catches, twist it and remove the screw.

A plier

This is the easiest way to remove a screw with a stripped head, but only if a portion of it is above the surface. All you need to do then is grip the head of the screw with the pliers and gently twist the screw left and right so you loosen it enough to yank it out.

The best type of pliers to use for the job are either locking pliers or vise grip pliers.

Using a drill

There are different ways you could remove a stripped screw using a drill and different drill bits.

The first method involves using a drill bit that is used for metal to make a hole in the head of the screw. Be sure to use a low speed while doing this, since you do not want to split or break the screw. Once you feel the bit catch, turn the screw in reverse and remove the screw.

Another approach is to use a larger driver bit. The larger bit can distribute more pressure across the head of the screw and the rotary tool helps force it out easily.

The third approach involves using what is known as a screw extractor bit. All you need to do is drill the bit into the screw and then drill in reverse to extract the screw. You could also invest in a screw extractor kit.

Steel wool

Sometimes, when the head has been very thoroughly stripped, it doesn’t work even if you use a drill. However, inserting a little bit of steel wool between the screw and the head of the oscillating tool you’re using is a great way to create some instant extra grip.

Rubber bands

Another great way to get some grip is to use a wide rubber band. Place a part of the rubber band over the stripped head of the screw and then insert the screwdriver or drill bit into the head. The extra grip is sure to make pulling the screw out easier.

Abrasive powders

Another simple grip hack is to use an abrasive cleaning powder or sand to create friction and get you the grip you need. Pour a small amount of either substance onto the stripped screw head. Then, try turning it with a drill bit or a screwdriver. You ought to have enough grip to prevent the screw head from slipping.

Read more: Questions about blast cleaning

A new nut

materials in removing screw

If none of the above methods have worked, the last thing you can do is give the screw a new head. To do this, you will need to spot weld a nut around the same size or slightly smaller than the screw onto the screw. Once the weld has set, you can easily remove the screw using a wrench.

Just choose the right tool

Removing a stripped screw can be frustrating, especially when your tool keeps slipping off the head of the screw. The trick is in recognizing how bad the head is and choosing the right tool to help you get a grip on the screw. 

Handyman secrets: How to remove a stripped screw was last modified: October 14th, 2022 by Narayan Shrouthy
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Too bad those tricks don’t work for screws in appliances, but I liked the ideas