Remove Screws With A Stripped Head

Edited by Nate Pepperell, Jerry Rivers, Lynn, Anonymous and 7 others

To remove a screw with a stripped head may seem impossible. No matter how much you push and turn with your screwdriver, nothing seems to happen. When the head of a screw has been stripped, it means, regardless of what kind of screw it is, either the slot had been widened so it can no longer hold the edges, or with other kinds of screws, the head has been stretched or twisted so it can no longer be manipulated by a screwdriver. This article will explain some handy tips to remove screws that have a stripped head.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

Ad

Tips On How To Remove Screws With A Stripped Head

It's always a good idea to use a handheld manual screwdriver and NOT a power drill when trying to remove a screw with a stripped head. A power drill will only spin at a faster speed and hollow out the damaged head some more. With a handheld screwdriver you will have more control over what you are doing.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

  1. 1
    Multiple screwdriver heads.
    Try multiple different screwdriver heads. If you don't have a screw extractor, you can always try a variety of different screwdrivers that. It doesn't matter what kind of screwdriver you use, or whether or not it is the correct size, as long as it can grab the inside edges of the screw, you should be able to extract the screw.
    Advertisement
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help

  2. 2
    Tap screwdriver end with a hammer.
    Place a slightly larger screwdriver inside the screw head and gently tap the end with a hammer. By doing this, sometimes the head of the screwdriver can become lodged inside the screw head, allowing you to remove the screw. Be very careful when trying this method as you may damage the wall or the material the screw is screwed into.
    Advertisement
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help

  3. 3
    Drill the screw out with a power drill.
    This method is usually only used when the screw with a stripped head has been screwed into a metal surface. Find a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the screw you're trying to remove. Slowly apply pressure to the screw head with your drill, and slowly drill all the way through the entire screw. It is important not to drill too fast because you'll make the drill bit too hot. This will result in the metal surface of the screw becoming hardened by the extreme heat.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help

  4. 4
    Vice grip pliers.
    Vice grips are probably the most useful tool in your toolbox. If the head of the screw is up off the surface enough to get a hold of it with the vice grips, then this method is the easiest. Locking onto a curved head is difficult. The best technique is to turn your vice grips sideways (like you are going to lay them down) and lock them onto the screw head. You don't need as much grip that way. Once you feel you have a good grip, start turning the screw.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help

  5. 5
    Screw extractor.
    This is a tool designed specially for removing screws with a stripped head. It has a burrowing tip which grabs onto the inside of the screw head so it can be removed. A screw extractor can be purchased from any hardware or home depot store.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help

How To Remove A Screw With No Head

Jerry-headless screw removal.jpg
  1. 1
    Try to remove the headless screw with a pair of small vice grips.
    Clamp the top of the screw if it's not flush to the surface, and unscrew it. If this doesn't work right away, stop before any damage is done to whatever it's screwed into. Instead, try some of the suggestions below.
    Advertisement
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help

  2. 2
    Drill a hole into a thin piece of durable material, such as polyethylene (hard plastic), or sheet metal.
    Place the sheet of plastic or metal over the headless screw so that it protrudes through the hole. This will create a protective shield. Now grip the headless screw tightly with vice grips. Grip the screw from the front of your vice grips and not from the side. Pry up the screw the same way you would with the claw of a hammer.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help

  3. 3
    You can purchase a hollow wood screw extractor bit from most hardware stores to remove the headless screw.
    Use a piece of wood to steady the extractor while you remove the headless screw. The extractor will drill a small hole around the screw as you remove it. After extraction, you can fill the hole with a snug dowel rod of the right length. Glue it in place with carpenter's glue.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help

    Advertisement

Using one of these methods, you should be able to remove the screw with no head from the wood. Once the stubborn headless screw has been removed, and you throw it away, you will have learned the skill of removing a headless screw, and the next time it happens, you will be ready. Fortunately, this doesn't happen very often.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

Tips Tricks & Warnings

  • If you notice that the method you are using to remove the damaged screw is not working, stop immediately to prevent any more damage and try something different.
  • Wrap the tip of your screwdriver in rubber. Place a rubber band or something similar around the end of your screwdriver. Sometimes, this will give the screwdriver a little traction and grip inside the screw head.
  • Try using pliers. Try using some pliers if you can grab the outside edge of the screw head. Gently turn counter-clockwise (turn right to left) to remove the screw.
  • Don't let the drill bit get too hot. When using a power drill to remove damaged screws, make sure you keep the drill bit cool. You can do this by drilling slowly, by cooling down the end of the drill bit with a wet towel, taking breaks from drilling.

Questions and Answers

How do I remove a screw with a stripped head, screwed into metal?

If the metal is soft enough that the screw head gets stripped, the only resort you have is to hammer the head. This will give a sturdy position so you can unscrew. This is not the best solution, but when all fails, then you have no choice but to do this.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

If the screw that has a stripped head is not buried too deeply in the metal then you can either use a pliers or a vice-grip to rotate it and pull it out. But if it is totally buried into the metal, and the screw is either flush, or worse, it's recessed into the metal, the only way to remove it by using a drill bit slightly smaller than the screw and, manually pull it out.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

How Does The Home Depot Hollow Wood Screw Extractor Work?

This tool is used to remove screws that have broken off in the wood. When drilling with a traditional screw extractor, this is the best tool to use. This wood extractor is not only used to remove small screws, but also those that have hardened into the wood as well. One of the hollow bits is used to make a core into the wood. The core then pops out with the screw. The hole can be filled in with a plug or dowel.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

Certain screws can be actually be extracted using easily an electric drill. This is faster than manually screwing it onto the surface.

See more questions like this: What is a hollow screw extractor and how does it work

How can I remove four screws where the heads are burred so that the screwdriver has no grip?

To remove four screws where the heads are burred, you can make use of a wide rubber band and you need to place it on top of the screw and push the screwdriver. This will tighten the grip of the screwdriver.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

If this doesn't work, use a drill. Use a smaller drill and drill a hole into top of the screw. Then use your Phillips to remove the screw.

Trying to remove a screw from a bathtub faucet after trying to drill, unscrew?

My husband has tried drilling through the skull, using a grip to pull it out and nothing seems to be working. Meanwhile we continue to lose hot water from a leak.

VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

I was wondering because I have two stripped screws?

I have them in a Nintendo DSI and they are like really deeply stripped to where it is impossible

VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

My screw is imbedded and deep down in the shaft hole?

I am not sure how to phrase it. I have tried: Nothing else but using the screwdriver. I think it was caused by: It is in a screen door. Trying to remove the door.

VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

How do I loosen a Sheet Metal Screw that is stuck?

Trying to remove a screw from my dryer (to replace heating element) and couldn't budge it. After an hour of trying different things, it was stripped. So I tried to drill through it and broke the drill. What next? Bigger drill? I have tried: Hand-held screwdrivers (2), hammering while turning screwdriver, vice grips on screwdriver (with/without hammering), vice grips on the screw head (couldn't grab sufficiently - round head flush with surface), impact driver, electric drill with Phillips head attachment, drilling out screw. I think it was caused by: Manufacturer tightened it too much? This is the first time the screw has been attempted to be removed since we purchased the dryer (new)

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

Comments

VisiHow welcomes all comments. If you do not want to be anonymous, register or log in. It is free.




Nate Pepperell
Premier Author
16 Articles Started
262 Article Edits
10,950 Points
Nate Pepperell is a premier author with VisiHow. Nate Pepperell has achieved the level of "Gunnery Sergeant" with 10,950 points. Nate Pepperell has started 16 articles (including this one) and has also made 262 article edits. 46,900 people have read Nate Pepperell's article contributions.
Nate Pepperell's Message Board
Nate Pepperell: Hi, my name is Nate Pepperell.
Nate Pepperell: Can I help you with your problem about "Remove Screws With A Stripped Head"?
 

Article Info

Categories : Home Repair

Recent edits by: Creede, Dougie-1, Robyn

Share this Article:

Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 5,377 times.

Do you have a question not answered in this article?
Click here to ask one of the writers of this article
x

Thank Our Volunteer Authors.

Would you like to give back to the community by fixing a spelling mistake? Yes | No