How To Remove A Stripped Screw? (7 Easy Methods)

Whether you are an expert DIYer or a newbie, at some point, you will confront a stripped screw. A stripped screw is one with a damaged or worn-out screw head, and the screw bit of your drill/ screwdriver cannot get a proper grip to leverage the screw.

Stripped screws result from using low-quality metal to make the screws, using wrong screw bits during screwing, or inserting the screw bit at the screw head at a kinky angle. Whatever the reason is, it is pretty annoying. But do not be afraid as there are several solutions to it.

The loveliness of getting various ways for how to remove a stripped screw is that you can try the one that suits your available tools. And if one does not work, you can switch to the next.

Tools to remove stripped screw:

• Regular screwdriver
• Hammer or mallet
• Hacksaw or Dremel
• Impact driver
• Screw extractor
• Drilling apparatus
• Center punch
• Heat gun or propane torch
• Abrasive powder

7 methods to remove a stripped screw

A stripped screw head cannot withstand these effective ways. Here are few foolproof methods to remove one faster.

Method 1: Try a screwdriver in different ways

1. Increase the grip strength with penetrating oil, wrench, and pliers

If still, it is possible to grip the screw head with a screwdriver, try for the last time to extract it by hand. We recommend the below instructions to increase the chances.

• If the screw has stripped to metal, spray penetrating oil on it like WD 40 and allow it to rest for fifteen minutes minimum.
• Make sure you use the giant manual screwdriver that you can fit the screw.
• For more leverage, you can use a wrench to grip the handle of the screwdriver.
• Most importantly, if the screw possesses a raised head, try to use pliers instead.

2. Add material (like a rubber band, steel wool, etc.) for extra grip

If the screwdriver continuously glides out of the stripped hole, you can cover it with a tiny piece of material for extra grip. Some available material options are rubber band, steel wool, green abrasive from kitchen sponge, and duck tape. Press any one of these into the hole using the screwdriver and try once again.

3. Use a hammer to tap the screwdriver into position

This step is suitable especially for a Phillips head screw. Take a hammer and tap the screwdriver gently on the screw head to create a new groove so that it can bite the screw. Do it carefully to prevent the breakage of the screw head, and if you are handling a brittle object, it is better to avoid this step.

Or you can use a square drill bit to hammer it into the screw head. Continue hammering until it penetrates the Phillips head screw.

4. Push down the screwdriver hard as you rotate

Now place the screwdriver on the screw head, positioning your palm against the screwdriver head and your arm behind it. Push down the screw with your whole arm while rotating the screwdriver. Stop using it instantly if it slips, as further slippage will keep on wearing down the screw top and make it more complex to expel. Pushing down hard will prevent slipping as you are unscrewing the screw.

5. Heat the area

Sometimes it is possible to slacken the threads by heating the screw but not damaging the object it is connected to. You can grab a propane torch or heat gun for this purpose. We recommend moving it continuously to avoid overheating. When the screw head is sufficiently hot to crackle a water drop, keep it for cooling, then take another attempt.

6. Cut a flat head notch using a hacksaw or Dremel

You can apply this way combined with previously mentioned any of the processes. When the screwdriver cannot get a decent grip after applying all the above methods, make a groove into the screw head. Then take another attempt with a flat head screwdriver to extract the screw.

Method 2: Try an impact driver

Step 1: Grab an impact driver

Tough screws with much build-up and rust are nearly impossible to remove, let alone preserving the screw head. You can face this problem in cars, boats, lawnmowers, or even in your house. Sometimes the weak screw heads cannot withstand the force to break the threads.

But an impact driver can be your great companion to solve this issue. It is a manual instrument that gives a sudden and robust rotational force and forth thrust when you strike on its back with a hammer.

People use it to slacken larger nuts and screws that are corrosively over-torqued. It drives the screwdriver beat into the screw with a spring and weight. Though it gives good results on strong objects, it can damage sensitive equipment like electronics. We suggest avoiding cheap models that have stiff springs as these need violent hammer blows to work.

Do not confuse it with a powered impact wrench, as excessive force can damage the attached material.

Step 2: Set the impact driver on the screw head to slacken it

There are some models with switches. While using others, set the turning direction correctly by twisting their handles.

Step 3: Hold the screwdriver in position

Now set a correct size drill bit in the driver. Placing it on the screw, hold the driver at 90 degrees angle. Grip the impact driver in the midpoint, keeping your hand free of its end. The positive side is that the drill bits are extra-tough and make the screw extracting task easier.

Step 4: Use a mallet to strike on the impact driver end

Now tap the driver end sharply using a heavy mallet. If you use a rubber mallet, there will not be any scratches on the impact driver.

Step 5: Check the direction of the driver

Most drivers need to reset between each strike. So do not miss doing it before striking it again.

Step 6: Repeat the process until the screw is loose

Once the screw is loose, get the stripped screw out using a regular screwdriver. You can repeat the process if necessary.

Method 3: With a screw extractor

Step 1: Take a screw extractor

If the stripped screw is very thin and there is not sufficient shank to grip, a screw extractor can be your savior. This tool looks like a screw with a blunt end and very broad threads. These hardened threads orient the opposite way from standard right-hand threaded screws.

While turning the extractor, it becomes tight into the hole that gives it a firm grip. But this action needs strict caution. You may need a professional if the tool breaks off inside the screw. To reduce the probability of this accident, select an extractor which diameter is not more than 75% of that of the screw shank.

We recommend a multi-spline extractor to deal with a Torx or socket cap screw with the exposed cylindrical body. However, these extractor kits are pretty inexpensive and reusable.

Step 2: Punch a hole on the center of the screw head

Now wear eye-protective equipment and hold a center punch on precisely the focal point of the screw head. Then hit the end of the center punch using a hammer to make a dent for drilling.

Step 3: Drill a hole into the stripped screw head

Now utilize a drill bit made for hard metal. Drill a hole slowly on the damaged screw head; you can use a drill press for stabilization. The hole depth should be between 3mm to 6mm; otherwise, the screw may break down. It assists in beginning the hole with a tiny drill bit to provide the larger bit a position to grasp.

Step 4: Tap the extractor with a brass hammer

The extra robust metal of the extractor is fragile, so a steel or iron hammer can break it. Using a brass hammer, tap the extractor into the screw head until it gets a firm grip in the drilled hole.

Step 5: Turn the screw extractor carefully

Now turn the extractor with proper caution. Excessively forceful or unbalanced torque may cause your extractor to break and leave you in a more vulnerable situation. The tap handle fitted comfortably on the extractor head is the safest option to extract the screw and the extractor. The drilling must have slackened the screw, so it is possible to remove it without applying much force.

Step 6: Heat the screw if it does not come out

If the screw does not move and you are worried that the extractor may break, withdraw the extractor. Now heat the screw using a propane torch or heat gun and drip water or paraffin wax to lubricate the threads. After the screw becomes cool, try again with the extractor.

At this step, you should be more careful not to damage the adjacent objects. And move the heating apparatus continuously to avoid uneven heating.

Method 4: Fix a nut to the screw with epoxy

Fix a nut to the screw head using a metal-to-metal two-part epoxy that you can find as the ‘’weld bond’’. Follow the direction mentioned on the label to cure. Then grip the attached nut using a socket wrench and rotate.

Method 5: Drill out screw

Breaking the screw head releases pressure on the screw shank and makes it easier to remove. But if this process does not become successful, you have closed the most other doors for you. Use a drill bit a little larger than the screw shank so that when you drill through the screw head and reach the shank, the screw head comes entirely off.

Now take a center punch to create a hole in the accurate center of the screw without touching the surrounding objects. Once the head breaks off, use locking pliers to grasp the screw shank and rotate it counterclockwise to extract.

If the head is not file, it is not easy to handle it with a hand-held drill. So even it out with a small file or grind it in a Dremel with a pointed grinding stone.

Method 6: Use abrasive powder

The more friction you can create to the screw head, the more quickly you can get out a stripped screw. So you can scatter a small amount of fine sand or abrasive cleaning powder to the surface of the stuck screw. Then using a drill driver bit, try extracting stripped screws. Sometimes the sand or powder is enough to prevent the bit slippage on the screw.

Method 7: Electrical discharge machine

Suppose all the methods mentioned above fail for unscrewing stripped screws, then go to professionals with the complete set. They will use Electrical-Discharge Machining to remove a screw with a stripped head. It is the best option indeed if the screw extractor breaks inside the screw.

How to remove a stripped screw without an extractor?

First, you have to quit utilizing the tool that stripped the screw instantly.

Then switch to a compact size screwdriver with a giant head. It may be helpful if you switch the screw head type. Torx or Allen screwdriver kits can solve your problem too. Just proceed slowly and apply downward pressure as much as you can. Do not forget the chant, ‘’righty tighty’’.

Sometimes an elastic band can do magic to remove or loosen the screw at least. For that, you have to place the rubber band between the screwdriver and screw. Then apply slow but hard force while trying to turn the screw. The elastic band fills in the gap caused by the strip and permits screw extraction.
If the rubber trick does not work out, try locking clamp-style pliers having a long nose.

FAQs on how to get a stripped screw out

1. What is a stripped screw?
A stripped screw is one with a damaged and bored-out head, so the screw bit of the screwdriver or drill cannot grip properly to extract it. The stripped screw is the output of using the wrong size drill bit for screwing, trying to insert the drill bit at a weird angle, and working too quickly.

However, most of you wonder how to get out a stripped screw. But applying the methods mentioned above, you can get rid of this issue.

2. Why do the screws become stripped?
Screws become stripped because of using inappropriate tools or user error. Usually, screw heads wear out due to using too tiny drill bits on them. The drill bit or screwdriver rotates without having a proper grip on the screw, resulting in a stripped screw head. The other reasons are

• Use poor-quality metal to make screws.
• Work without proper care.
• Turn the screwdriver or drill bits into the screw at an angle.
• Use old drill bits.
• Over-tighten the screw.
• Carry on to use a screw that has started stripping.

3. How to prevent stripping a screw?
Work with proper care and attention while drilling the screw. If you find out a screw stripping either while inserting or removing it, check you are using the appropriate size drill bit or screwdriver. It is easier to remove a partially stripped screw than an entirely stripped one. So, it is best to get the screw out and start with a new one. You will have to pay later if you continue with a screw that began to strip.

4. How to remove a stripped screw from a laptop?
Laptop screws have small heads, thus require screwdrivers of specific sizes. If you overtighten the screw or use the wrong size screwdriver, the screw head can strip, and there might be no way to turn it.

Methods to get stripped screw out areas below.

• Switch to a slightly bigger screwdriver to grab the screw head firmly and unscrew it.
• You can use fine needle-nose pliers to grip the screws lightly.
• You also can use a rubber band with the screwdriver to have a grip on the stripped screw.
• The last and most challenging option is drilling out the laptop screw. You will need a drill bit slightly smaller than the size of the screw.

5. How to remove a stripped screw from plastic?
You have to be very careful when removing stripped screws from any soft materials like plastic, especially if the fastener is plastic-made. If you do not take adequate precautions, plastic screws will be prone to rounding due to the hardness difference between plastic fasteners and drive bits. The best solution is to use an elastic band, as the elastic will defend the plastic screw from more damage.

Final Words

The universal question is, what is the best way to get a stripped screw out. The answer is there are multiple ways; from those, you have to select the one that goes with the tools you have in your hand. To avoid redundant damage, start with simple methods and escalate as required.

In most cases, you can take out genuinely tucked screws with comparatively minor modifications and no need for the severe solutions mentioned in this article. Hopefully, now you have a translucent idea of how to remove a stripped screw.

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