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How to Remove a Stripped Screw

If you spend even a small amount of time working on DIY projects, you’ll eventually find yourself battling a stripped screw. These pesky little devils can drive even an experienced DIYer mad.

However, there are a few simple and effective ways to remove a stripped screw and save your sanity.

Today, we’re going to look at a few methods you can try to remove a stripped screw on your next project. Grab your toolbox, and let’s get started!

What Is a Stripped Screw?

A stripped screw is one that has had the slots in its head worn out. This makes it nearly impossible for screwdrivers and drill bits to grab ahold of the screw to turn it. These are typically the result of a screw going in and out multiple times.

Or it could be someone using the wrong size drill bit on it. Whether the stripped screw is your fault or not is irrelevant; it’s annoying and frustrating nonetheless. 

What Happens If a Screw Gets Stripped?

If a screw gets stripped, removing it can feel like an impossible task. However, as impossible as it might seem, there’s a pretty solid chance that you’ll be able to remove it.

Will it always be easy? No. Will you get frustrated? Most likely. However, take on the challenge and use our problem-solving skills.

What Is the Easiest Way to Remove a Stripped Screw?

The easiest way to remove a stripped screw is to use a screw extractor. It will connect to your drill and drill into the head of a screw until it’s able to get a firm grip. Once it does, reverse the bit and use constant downward pressure between the screw extractor and the head of the screw. Slowly press the trigger on your drill. 

You want to take your time during this process to not damage the screw any more than it already is. The screw should start turning slowly and back out of the hole. If you try to speed through this process, you’ll likely make the task much more difficult than it needs to be.

Ways to Remove a Stripped Screw

There are a handful of common ways to remove a stripped screw. Let’s look at some simple solutions you can try the next time you experience a stripped screw on a project.

Use Pliers

If you’re lucky, enough of the head of the screw will be out of the hole. Then, you’ll be able to grab it with a set of pliers. You’ll want to use a quality set of locking pliers or vise grips to avoid slippage. Once you have a firm grip on the head of the screw, twist the screw gently until it loosens enough for you to pull it out of the hole.

This is one of the most straightforward ways to remove a stripped screw. However, not all stripped screws behave as nicely or are nearly as friendly. When it comes to stripped screws and projects, these will be the ones you don’t mind nearly as much.

Take It Out With a Hammer

If you cannot get a hold of the head of the screw, grab a hammer and flathead screwdriver. Place the flathead screwdriver on the head of the screw and bang on the end of the screwdriver with the hammer.

This will likely drive the screwdriver into the screw deep enough that it’s able to grip its head and will allow you to turn it out of the hole manually. While you might not think this idea sounds effective, it’s one of the most effective methods for removing stripped screws from materials.

Get Extra Traction With a Rubber Band

Another common method for removing stripped screws is to use a rubber band. The rubber band is flexible enough to help fill in gaps when placing your screwdriver or drill bit into the head of a stripped screw. Stretch the rubber band over the head of the screw.

Then, put the screwdriver on top of the rubber band to press it into the head of the screw. 

Put as much downward force as possible on the screwdriver and turn it counterclockwise. If the rubber band can increase the traction enough, the screw head will begin to turn and back the screw out of the hole. 

Spray With Rust Penetrant

Sometimes rust can build up in the head of an old screw, especially if it’s spent years outside in a wet and humid environment. Spray the head of the screw with a rust penetrant.

Let it sit on the head of the screw to do its magic. This will eat away at the layers of rust on the screw and help make it easier for a screwdriver to get a good grip for you to back it out of the hole. 

Is Removing a Stripped Screw Possible?

While it may seem like the stripped screw you’re battling is impossible to remove, you’re likely not going to have many options. You have to figure out a way to get it out! A pesky stripped screw can bring your project to a halt until you can remove it. 

Give each of these methods a try and see which one can help you to get that stripped screw out so you can move on with your project. Be sure to let us know which method is most effective with the screw you’re battling!

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