How to Remove Stripped Screws: Five Effective Methods


If you’ve ever found yourself trying to remove a stripped screw and feeling frustrated, you’re not alone. 

Stripped screws are definitely a pain in the ass and try as you might, some stubborn ones of them just won’t come out. That’s when frustration takes you over and you find yourself completely lost. 

But Don’t Worry!!

It’s a common problem that can happen to anyone.  

Fortunately, you can easily fix this problem using the right tools and techniques. Here’s a simple guide covering 5 techniques on how to remove a stripped screw.

So, let’s solve the problem before you go nuts on the stripped screw.


METHOD#1: Using a Manual Screwdriver

This technique works best if you’re having trouble with your screwdriver bit slipping, again and again, against the head of the screw.  

Here is the simple method: 

  1. First, make sure you have the right size screwdriver for the screw you’re trying to remove.
    (if the screwdriver is too small or too large, it will only make the task more difficult.)
  2. If the screw is really stuck, try using some oil or rust dissolver to loosen it.
    (This will give the screwdriver a better grip on the screw, making it easier to turn.)
  3. Hold the screwdriver firmly in your hand, with the tip of the blade pressed against the head of the screw. 
  4. Put as much pressure as you can and try turning the screwdriver counter clockwise.
  5. If it still doesn’t work, use a little bit of elbow grease. You can also try to twist the screwdriver. 

Pro tip: To improve your hold on the screw, try using a rubber band or a small piece of duct tape with the sticky side facing the screw head. This will provide extra grip on the screw. 

Another tip: To uproot a screw with Phillips head, you can use a narrow, flat-head screwdriver that fits inside the Phillips head hole. The rubber band tip mentioned above can be helpful for its effortless removal.

METHOD#2: Using an Impact Driver

Here’s how: 

  1. Pick an impact driver and a screwdriver bit that fits the stripped screw, and, if possible, some oil. 
  2. Now pour oil on the screw threads if it’s stuck in place.
  3. Insert the screwdriver bit into the chuck of the impact driver. Tighten it firmly (Make sure the bit doesn’t slip)
  4. Balance the impact driver over the screw and make sure the bit is properly aligned.
  5. Now put pressure on the impact driver, moving it back and forth. Now you can loosen the stripped screw. If the screw starts to turn, continue turning it until it is fully removed.
  6. By now, the stripped screw should have come out. However, if it is still stuck, you may need to repeat the process a few times until it becomes loose enough to remove.

METHOD#3: Using a Screw Extractor

A screwdriver and screws in a wood

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Screw extractors have threads that are opposite to those of screws, making them quite handy for taking out deeply buried screws. However, it’s important to choose the right size that fits tightly into the head of the stripped screw. 

Here’s how to use screw extractors:

  1. Insert the extractor into the chuck of your drill and tighten it up so that it can hold the extractor tight. 
  2. Adjust the drill to the reverse setting.
  3. Now, pick a hammer and gently tap the extractor into the stripped screw. The fluted end of the screw should cut into the metal of the screw and create a grip.
  4. Once the extractor properly fits on the screw, turn the extractor anti-clockwise (preferably using a wrench). This will make the screw turn and loosen up.
  5. Continue turning the extractor until the stripped screw is completely removed. If the screw is still stuck, you may need to use more force or try using a larger extractor.

Warning:  Be careful when using a screw extractor, as the tool can be sharp, and the process may require a lot of force. 

METHOD#4: Using Vice-Grips or Pliers

A hand holding a pliers

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This method is useful to remove stripped screws not buried deep down the hole. 

  1. Pick your vice-grip or pliers, and a screwdriver or drill bit that fits the stripped screw.
  2. Place the tool around the head of the stripped screw, making sure you get a good grip.
  3. Turn the tool anti-clockwise to loosen the screw. It may take some effort but keep turning until the screw comes out.
  4. Here again, you may need to use oil to soften things up. 

Remember: It is important to be careful when using this method because the jaws of the vice-grip may scrape and harm the area surrounding the screw.

METHOD#5: Using Left-handed Drill Bits

Here’s how:

  1. Pick a drill with a left-handed bit (slightly smaller one), a screwdriver, and some penetrating oil.
  2. Apply the penetrating oil to the stripped screw to loosen up any rust or debris that may be blocking the screw from turning.
  3. Hold the screwdriver in place on the screw and use the drill to turn the drill bit counterclockwise. The left-handed drill bit will grip onto the screw and help to turn it.
  4. Keep drilling. Keep the drill bit turned until the stripped screw is removed (Remember, you may have to use more oil as you work to help loosen the screw)
  5. By now, the stripped screw should have been removed. 

The Bonus: Sixth Method to Remove Stripped Screws 

Rather, Use a Rotary Tool

Here’s How: 

  1. Pick a rotary tool (such as a Dremel) and a screwdriver bit that matches the size of the stripped screw. 
  1. Warning: Put on the safety goggles (it’s important to protect your eyes from any flying debris or particles that may come off the rotary tool.)
  2. Now try to fit the bit into the screw head. Make sure it fits snugly into it and is the correct size.
  3. Turn the tool and adjust the speed to a medium level. 

Note: You don’t want it to be too fast, as this could cause the bit to break or damage the screw head further)

  1. Hold the rotary tool at a small angle and gently apply pressure. The tool should start digging into the screw head, creating new digs for the bit to grip on.
  2. By now, you should be able to turn the screw using the rotary tool and screwdriver bit. Keep turning until the screw is completely removed.

You’re done. Dispose of the stripped screw or replace it with a new one. Just be sure that you do everything carefully. Take safety precautions. 

Wrapping it Up: 

Remember, patience is key when it comes to removing a stripped screw. It may take some time and effort, but with the right tools and technique, you can get the job done. Also, it’s crucial to be careful and ensure that you wear suitable safety glasses when attempting any of these methods. Thank you.

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