How to remove a stripped screw

how to remove a stripped screw

Quite often in your DIY journey or your home repairs, you must have racked your brains thinking about how to remove a stripped screw. If you don’t yet know what a stripped screw is, you’ve been lucky so far, but there is every chance you will have to face one someday. A stripped screw is a screw whose head has been damaged so badly that your screwdriver or the screw bit of your drill cannot get a grip on it. But before you learn how to remove a stripped screw, let’s find out how stripped screws happen in the first place.

What causes a hard-to-remove stripped screw?

There may be various reasons why this damage to a screw head occurs, making it quite hard to remove the stripped screw. Some of the most common causes behind a stripped screw are:

• Turning the screwdriver or drill at a wrong angle with the screw
• Using the wrong size of screwdriver
• Using a worn-out drill bit or screwdriver
• Over-tightening the screw that causes the screwdriver to slip
• Using low-quality tools
• Not being too careful or working too fast

There can be any number of reasons, but these are some of the most common mistakes that might result in a stripped screw.

Removing a stripped screw is a real challenge. It can be a nightmare if you don’t have the right tools or don’t know the right tricks. Without the grips, there is hardly any friction, and no matter how hard you press the screwdriver or drill bit into the screw head, it won’t budge. That said, there’s nothing to worry about, as there are many techniques to help you solve the issue. Like every other problem, this one has a solution too.

Here is a list of some very effective tips that tell you how to remove a stripped screw and save you all that sweat.

6 Tips for removing a stripped screw

1. Removing a stripped screw by drilling a slot into the screw
Since you won’t be needing it anyway, removing stripped screws this way could be a solution. Drilling a small hole into the screw will allow you to reach deeper into it with a tool. Here are the steps:

• Drill a small hole into the stripped screw.
• You can use a screwdriver and see if it gets a better grip now.
• Alternatively, use a tapered screw extractor having threads that spin in the direction opposite to the threads on the screw.
• Unscrew using either of these tools.

It is important to note that the screw extractor should be driven by hand instead of a power tool such as a drill. A power tool works at high speeds and might cause the screw to break before it is extracted, since it is already quite damaged. You can use a T-handle to drive the screw extractor manually instead. This process should be carried out very slowly and carefully.

You can also use a stripped screw extractor tool for this method – if you have one. These tools have a cutting edge on one end and a screw extractor on the other. They can be used with any drill and are specifically designed to extract stripped screws

2. Use a rubber band that adds friction to remove a stripped screw
This is probably the first and most common solution that most people go for when removing a stripped screw. A rubber band can increase the friction between the screwdriver or drill bit and the damaged screw head. In this method, you need to follow these few steps:

• Place a rubber band over the head of the stripped screw. The wider the band, the better.
• Insert the screwdriver or drill bit firmly into the screw head
• Ensure the rubber band lies between the tool and the screw head
• Also ensure the rubber band does not have any slack
• Rotate the tool with a slow but firm pressure
• Extract the screw from the surface.

If you are using a drill for this method, make sure that you use a very low-speed setting. Working too fast on this may cause the rubber band to break. If you don’t have a rubber band handy, try using a few layers of duct tape or some steel wool. These might do the trick as well.

3. Cut a notch and use a flat-headed screwdriver to remove the stripped screw
This method works in removing stripped screws that are not completely flush with the surface. In this method, you can use a small rotary cutting tool. Here are the steps:

• Fit the rotary cutting tool to your drill
• Cut a slot onto the stripped screw head.
• Ensure that you cut only a small slot on the head
• Use a flat-headed screwdriver inserted into this slot and twist
• Extract the stripped screw like any other screw.

Don’t try this on stripped screws that are completely sunk or very close to the surface as the rotary tool might damage the surrounding surface too. If you want to know how to remove a stripped screw that is sunk in the surface, try one of the other tips in the list.

4. Glue a nut to the screw head to aid easy removal of a stripped screw
You will need a pretty strong adhesive for this one, but it could really work to remove stripped screws that can’t be gripped with a plier or a wrench. Here’s what you can do.

• Use a very strong welding adhesive to glue a nut to the stripped screw head.
• Ensure that the nut is about the same size as the screw head or a little smaller, but never bigger than the screw head.
• Let the nut stick firmly to the screw head
• Once it is fixed, use a socket wrench to unscrew it.

You have to be extremely careful not to let the adhesive run in all directions. If it does, the whole project would be a failure.

5. Use pliers to pull and remove a stripped screw
This is another very method you can try if you’re thinking about how to remove a stripped screw that is not completely flushed with the surface. All you need is a pair of locking pliers, also known as vise grip pliers.

• Hold the screw head with the pliers
• Ensure that you have a strong grip
• Turn the pliers until the screw loosens up
• Extract the screw from the surface

This might need a little strength but is a hassle-free method.

6. Use a hammer to drive the screwdriver further in to remove the stripped screw
Sometimes a little extra force is enough to get that stubborn stripped screw removed. If the screw material is softer than the screwdriver’s tip, this method might work.

• Place the screwdriver on the stripped screw head
• Give a few light taps to the screwdriver’s handle with the hammer.
• The screwdriver’s tip should get lodged into the screw head firmly and increase the grip.
• Now twist and unscrew as you would normally do.


Struggling with a stripped screw can be quite frustrating, and we know that feeling. At least one of these methods should help you remove a stripped screw when it is absolutely essential. We do hope that these tips provide some solutions and answers, and provide some solace should you face such a problem. Check out more great details, tips and tricks at TAG Level.

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