Written by Dale Richardson - Updated: June 23, 2023
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Whether you're new to the DIY scene or a veteran, we've all done it. Stripping a screw is a stomach-dropping moment, especially when it's somewhere visible that you need it out of. That clackclackclack sound coming from your drill tells you that the next hour is going to be spent fighting a tiny piece of metal. Luckily, those of us at Fraffles have already fought (and won) this battle. If you're curious how to get a screw out, you're in the right place.
The best ways to get a screw out (especially if it's stripped) are with screwdrivers, drills, impact drivers, and a few useful household items.
Keep reading to learn all of the industry tips and tricks to get rid of stripped screws quickly.
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First and foremost - what is a stripped screw and how can you recognize it? Stripping is what happens to screws that are old and worn out, or overtightened. No matter the quality of the screws that you bought, it'll eventually happen, so knowing how to remove them is vital to your mental well-being. If you're anything like me, that screw is going to be staring at you, laughing , from its home while you frantically struggle to remove it.
Let's put that smug screw in its place, shall we?
Let's take a look at what you'll want to do this. There are a lot of tools that can help here (and a couple of household items), so let's start by assembling them and then we can move on to the removal process.
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We'll start easy and move on as you get more desperate, assuming the early steps don't work. Let's begin with the screwdriver.
This is usually the most immediate solution you should go for. Not only does it work surprisingly well, but it's the option that most people have every item for, regardless of their tool stash. This is pretty straightforward:
Assuming none of these work, this is where the hammer comes into play. This is the poor man's version of an impact driver. Simply hammer your screwdriver into place and try to turn. If that doesn't work (and you don't have an impact driver) skip to the third method.
Yes - they're real. Left-handed drill bits work similarly to a screw extractor (featured below,) in that they're designed to go the opposite direction from a "standard" bit. Simply place the bit in as usual and use the drill in reverse . Place it firmly on the screw head and apply pressure while pulling the trigger. This should allow the bit to bite into place.
This is a great method if you have the tool. An impact driver (for the uninitiated) is essentially a screwdriver that's meant to be impacted into the slot. To use it:
First things first, if you don't have one of these, you'll want one. Screw extractors do exactly what the name implies, and are generally rather cheap (under £10). They're designed to be counter-threaded to most screws, allowing them to remove pesky screws more easily. Simply load it securely into your drill, turn the drill on reverse (this is important) and pull the trigger.
If the screw head is raised from what it's in, this works great in a pinch. Simply get your pliers securely gripping the screw and turn. Be warned, this will likely scratch up whatever surface you're working on. (That's why this is so far down the list.) The magnet mentioned above can help with lifting the screw enough to remove it.
First things first - these methods are not for the average layman. If you have access to (and know how to use) a welding kit or rotary saw, these are great as a last-ditch effort. If you don't have access, it's likely that you'll want to skip these options and accept that you'll have to damage the screw's home to get it out.
If the screw is stripped beyond all hope of normal removal, a rotary saw or oscillating saw can help out. Using the saw to cut new notches in the screw can make it possible to remove with a drill.
It's vital that you ensure your saw blade can cut metal. You absolutely do not want to shatter a spinning saw blade because you couldn't be asked to check beforehand. And as always, use safety glasses here, please.
This is pretty straightforward for those who know how to weld. Take a nut that's slightly smaller (or the same size) as your screw, and spot-weld it onto the screw. Once the weld has set, you can use a wrench to remove the nut and screw at once.
Hopefully one of these methods was able to remove your screw! And don't forget, you can strip a screw even more. If a drill or screwdriver just isn't working, don't try the same thing over and over, expecting a different result - that's insanity. Accept that your method isn't working, and move on to something else mentioned in the list above.
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