10 Simple Ways to Remove Stripped Screws

You know that feeling. You're in the middle of a project, maybe assembling some IKEA furniture and making great progress, when suddenly you hit a snag. Next, you're staring at a stripped screw that just won't budge no matter how hard you try.

Don't despair! This problem is easily fixed with the right tools and techniques. In just a few minutes, you'll have that stripped screw removed and be back on completing your project. But first…

Why Do Screws Become Stripped?

When the grooves on the head of a screw are entirely worn off, the screw becomes stripped. This usually happens because of repeated use over time. No matter how hard you try, you won't be able to get any leverage or a firm grip against the screw's twisting action using a drill bit or screw driver.

There are several simple methods to remove a stripped screw, and we'll walk you through 10 of the best methods for doing so.

1. Use Rubber Bands

Rubber bands are one of the most common methods for removing stripped screws. They work by creating friction between the head of the screw and the surface it's stuck on. Rubber bands come in different sizes, so ideally, choose a wide rubber band to cover the entire head of the screw and then some.

Place the rubber band around the screwdriver bit and pull it tautly. Insert the screwdriver bit into the stripped screw head and twist the screw loose. If the screw isn't completely stripped, the rubber band will fill in the gaps and provide friction, helping the screw come out.

2. Pull It Out With Locking Pliers

Pliers can be an effective tool for extracting a stripped screw as well. A decent pair of pliers will allow you to start spinning and loosening a screw, even if you can only hold a small portion of the screw head. If you don't have enough grip on the head, use locking jaws (vise grips) to tighten around the head of the screw.

3. Use a Screwdriver and Hammer

Question: How do you remove a stripped screw without damaging the surrounding material?

Answer: Easy! With a screwdriver and hammer. First, carefully place the screwdriver's tip into the head of the screw. Then, using a hammer, lightly tap on the handle to provide extra force and loosen the grip of the stripped screw. Keep tapping until it starts to move, then switch back to using the screwdriver for removal. And voila! You have successfully removed that pesky stripped screw without scratching up your project. Who knew a simple screwdriver and hammer could save the day? (We did - that's why we are sharing it with you).

4. The Reverse Drill Method

If the traditional methods just aren't cutting it, have no fear - the reverse drill method is here! This simple trick involves drilling a hole into the head of the stripped screw with a slightly smaller bit. Then, switch the drill to reverse, and voila - you can now easily unscrew the stripped screw. It's an unconventional technique, but it works like a charm.

5. Use an Impact Screwdriver

Screws that have accumulated a lot of corrosion and grime can be extremely difficult to dismantle. This issue is most frequently encountered with machine screws on metal surfaces. The effort required to release threads from metal-on-metal corrosion is too much for the fragile screw heads. Here's when an impact screwdriver really shines.

Impact screwdrivers are perfect for quickly removing difficult screws without the need for excessive force. Simply attach the correct screwdriver head to the impact screwdriver, insert it into the screw, and strike it with a hammer. The impact driver's compound motion twists out the screw, breaks up the accumulation, and any further stripping of the screw.

6. Apply a Liquid Abrasive

If you're looking to strip screws without damaging the wood, look no further than a liquid abrasive. You'll want to apply the liquid abrasive directly onto the head of your screwdriver or drill bits. Ensure that you've got enough product to cover the entire surface of the screw. This can be challenging since most tools are designed to hold something other than extra material. However, if you're careful about applying the liquid, you should find the stuck screws coming out sooner than you hoped!

7. Switch to a Flat Head Screwdriver

You may not think switching to a flathead screwdriver would be much use, but it does surprisingly help. Not only will the flathead provide more leverage, but its straight edges also allow for a better grip on stripped screws. Just remember to keep the flat head screwdriver perpendicular to the head of the screw and gently push it down.

8. Bring Out the Hot Glue Gun

If you have a glue gun at home, you can use it to remove stripped screws! All it takes is some patience. Before you start, make sure the screw head is clean and debris-free. Then, apply a small amount of hot glue onto the stripped screw head. Let it dry and harden for a few minutes before using a screwdriver or other tool to turn and remove the screw. The hot glue adds extra grip and makes it much easier to loosen stubborn screws. Plus, every DIY enthusiast should already have this quick and easy fix in their toolbox.

9. Wood Plug Cutter

If the stripped screw is deeply lodged in the material, and you have exhausted all other options, it's time to resort to a bit of destruction. A wood plug cutter is one tool that might be able to help you out. This tool allows you to cut away wood from around a screw hole without having to strip screws completely.

The process starts with drilling a small pilot hole just outside where you want the screw to come out. Next, place the wood plug cutter over the hole. Turn the power up at high speed and cut away the surrounding material. Once the area is clear enough, use a flathead screwdriver to pry the wood plug cutter free. Now you're ready to pull the screw out.

10. Use a Stripped Screw Extractor Kit

If all else fails, get a stripped screw extractor. A screw extractor kit is one of those tools that every woodworker needs to have around. If you want to strip screws without damaging the threads, you'll need this tool.

You can buy kits on Amazon, but there are many places to find them. Hardware stores often carry them too. They're inexpensive and easy to use; just insert the tip of the bit into the hole where the screw goes, turn on the motor, and slowly rotate the bit counterclockwise. As soon as you feel resistance, stop turning and pull out the bit. Repeat the process if you don't get enough material off the screw.

Get On with Your Project

So there you have it, 10 different ways to remove a stripped screw. Even if one method doesn't work for you, keep trying others until you find the right fit. With enough perseverance, you can get that pesky screw out in no time. And once you do, be sure to throw it away—you don't want anyone else to go through the same struggle as you did.

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