If you have ever tried your hand at repair work, then you must have come across wearisome stripped screws.
It’s nothing to be embarrassed about because highly skilled handymen also encounter the curious case of stripped screws.
The real issue is not the stripped screws, it’s the part that comes after you have spotted one. Removing it is the tricky bit.
If you are not careful enough then you can damage the entire surface the screw is driven into, or you can hurt yourself trying to coax the screw out.
But before we get into how to deal with uninvited stripped screws, let’s first look at what a stripped screw is, and how it becomes one.
- 1 What is a stripped screw?
- 2 How to unscrew a stripped screw?
- 3 How to unscrew a stripped bolt?
- 4 What tools do you need to remove stripped screws?
- 5 How to remove a rusted screw?
What is a stripped screw?
A stripped screw is the one whose head has gotten so damaged that it can’t be easily removed by a drill or screwdriver.
Basically, the head gets so damaged that it becomes unfit to accurately fit into a bit. Hence, maneuvering the screw becomes a laborious job.
Why does it happen?
The most common cause behind a stripped screw is the use of incorrect tools. Using poor quality tools is also another cause behind a damaged screw.
Other reasons can be.
- Working too fast without care and precision.
- Using an old drill bit.
- Using an incorrect drill.
- Using an incorrect sized screwdriver (particularly one that is too small in size)
- Overtightening the screw
- Using the screw when it has already started to strip.
- Turning the screw at an askew angle.
How to unscrew a stripped screw?
Now that we have gone over the definition of a stripped screw, we are going to talk about fixing it. Well, you basically don’t fix the screw, you just remove it so that you can use a fresh screw in its place.
Ways of unscrewing a stripped screw.
Use a rubber band
It sounds strange but it works like a charm. Pick up an elastic band whose wide enough to accommodate a drill bit. Place the band over the damaged screw’s head and turn the drill.
The screw will come out and once it’s out the surface you can use a plier to take it all the way out.
Use locking pliers
This tip is going to work if the screw’s head is an above the surface, providing room to a plier to hold the head.
Once you have detected that the screw can be removed with a plier, grip the screw and turn it around. It’ll come out.
Use an impact driver
Fetch an impact driver with a hammer.
Place the driver over the head of the screw and hit it with a hammer in the correct direction.
That is, hit the head in the direction that is opposite to the stuck screw’s direction. Once the screw is loose, use a drill or screwdriver to extract the screw.
Use a screw extractor
You can get two types of screw extractors from the market. One has two types of tips and the second has a sawing tube attached in place of the tips.
The extractor with two tips
The one with two tips is easier to use and it gets the stripped screw without a chunk of the surface material.
All you need to do is use the first tip that is going to cut a hole into the screw’s head. It turns around in reverse and cuts a hole into the screw. Once you have carved a hole into the screw, use the second tip that is designed to bite into the edges of the hole and spins out the screw.
The hole saw screw extractor
This extractor digs into the surface and takes out the entire chunk in which the damaged screw is driven. After removing the screw by creating a hole around the shaft of the screw, you fill the hole by a tapered plug and hammer it in.
Screws and bolts are often used synonymously even though they are different form each other. Now that we have discussed how to deal with a stripped screw, let’s talk about dealing with a stripped bolt.
How to unscrew a stripped bolt?
A stripped bolt is the one that gets stuck into a surface because the threads that are used to tighten it get deformed due to overexertion on them. You can unscrew a stripped bolt by employing any of the following techniques.
Use impact force
This method is a piece of cake. All you need is a flathead screwdriver and a hammer. Place the screwdriver on the damaged bolt and hit the back of the driver with a hammer. The force will drive the stuck bolt out.
You can even use a lubricant to make the drive smoother and easier.
We have all studied in school how heat affects metal and causes it to expand and contract. Heat up the frozen bolt with a blow torch or a heat gun. Once the bolt loosens up, extract it out.
This trick relieves the tension in a stuck bolt by hashing the head of the bolt. Use a flathead screwdriver and a hammer to make relief cuts on the bolt. Once the tension is released, the bolt would come out.
Use a ratchet
Shake the bolt by placing a ratchet on the bolt’s head. Move the ratchet back and forth rapidly, that would loosen up the bolt. Drizzle a bit of lubricant to make matters easier for yourself. If a ratchet doesn’t provide you enough room to firmly grip the bolt, you can even use a metal pipe, or a hole saw to dig out the stuck bot.
Drill out the bolt
Use a drill or screwdriver to take out the stripped bolt. But you need to be careful to not do more damage. Choose the correct direction to rotate the bolt in reverse so that it comes out instead of getting tighter.
Use a screw or bolt extractor
This is a sure-shot method. Grab an extractor and extract the stuck bolt by following the instruction manual.
When a person embarks on the journey to deal with all the stripped screws and bolts in their estate, they must know which tools they are going to need.
What tools do you need to remove stripped screws?
Though the tools you’ll need to remove stripped screws depends on the method you are going to choose to work on, but we can give you a list of all the possible tolls you could require.
- A drill or screwdriver
- An elastic band
- An impact drill and hammer
- A flathead screwdriver and hammer
- A screw extractor
- A locking or clamping plier
We have discussed all the possible ways of extracting stripped screws, but we haven’t covered an important aspect of stripped screws. And that is rust. It’s quite possible that a stripped screw becomes rusted or is already rusted when you get to it. What do you do then? Let’s find out.
How to remove a rusted screw?
There are three most commonly used methods to remove a rusted screw. Rust can make a screw too stubborn to deal with. But it’s not something impossible to handle. You can pretty much employee the same techniques when dealing with a stripped screw. But the three most common ways of unscrewing a rusted screw are.
Heat it up
Heat up the screw to loosen it up. You can use a fire extinguisher or a blow torch or any other gas/heat gun to expose the screw to heat. After you have sufficiently heated the screw up, you’ll be able to take it out easily.
Use a lubricant and a drill/driver
Spray generous amounts of a lubricant on a rusted screw to make it slipper enough to make the movement of the screw possible. After dousing the tool in a lubricant, use a driver or drill to extract the rusted screw out of the surface.
Cut the screw
Use a rotatory tool to make cuts into the rusted screw. You can also use a flathead screwdriver and hammer to slash the head of the rusted screw. It’ll relieve the tension in the screw and make the drive out easier and possible.
If you are a DIY enthusiast or a budding handyman, the mentioned tips and tricks are going to help you. They are going to take you a long way because coming across rusted or stripped screws is a rite of passage for everyone who does repair work. Don’t get too frazzled by them and just hit them on the head (quite literally!).
But one precaution that you must never forget is using safety goggles and gloves.
No matter which method you employ or how big of an expert you consider yourself to be, you should never ever neglect safety measures. Better safe than sorry!Last updated on: