How to Remove a Stripped Screw Without Fail

Stripped screws are the bane of every tradesperson’s life. If you have never encountered one before, it can be a mountain rather than a molehill. It is all down to know how to deal with it. There is a range of tools to remove a stripped screw, although none of them are made specifically for that purpose. Adaptability is great! Removing stripped screws is always useful knowledge that can come in handy at the most surprising of moments.

What is a Stripped Screw?

If you look at a screw head, you’ll see the prongs in the top that allow your screwdriver bit to get a grip, helping you either screw-in or loosen the screw itself. When a screw is stripped, be it through wear and tear or an accident, these prongs can become damaged. This makes removing the screw more problematic than before. This can be a nightmare, so knowing how to get a stripped screw out is vitally important so then you can get on with the rest of the task at hand.

When are you Likely to Come Across a Screw with a Stripped Head?

There are many occasions when you might come across a screw that has had its head-worn down or stripped clean off. You might be removing fixings from kitchen cupboards prior to painting them. You might be refurbishing a piece of antique furniture when you come across a screw with a stripped head. You might even be sanding down wooden decking and come across an old misplaced screw head. Regardless of where you come across this problem, it is definitely something that you will need a strategy for, otherwise, you could get seriously stressed out trying to remove such a screw.

Suggested Tools and Techniques

Rubber Band

Thankfully, rubber bands are fairly easy to get hold of. Come to think of it, due to how versatile they are, everyone should have some stored away from both at home and at their workplace. The trick here is to put the rubber band over the stripped screw. You need to then insert the screwdriver point and unscrew the fastener. You can also use steel wool or the green abrasive threads that you find on the top of kitchen washing-up sponges. The way this works is by giving your screwdriver something else to hold on to.

Weld a nut to the Screw Head

Now, not everyone has welding equipment just lying around, nor are welding skills super common. But if you’ve got both the tools, the safety equipment, and the knowledge to use this option, go for it! You need to spot-weld a nut to the screw head. Wait until everything has cooled down before going in with a socket wrench. All you need to do now is gently turn the nut and the screw should turn with it.

Drill A New Spot

This is a relatively simple fix. All you need to do is drill a hole into the top of the screw at an angle to the current hole. Now, while it is simple in principle, it is fiddly. You need to be careful not to drill too deep, which will damage the screw. You need to make sure that you are using a drill bit suitable for metal rather than wood. Once you’ve drilled in another hole, you can then try and remove the screw as usual.

Use an Oscillating Tool

This is another tip that takes a specialized tool but if you’ve got it, why not use it? An example of an oscillating tool is a Dremel. The trick here is to use it to cut deeper into the screw head – again, this takes a degree of care as you don’t want to go completely through it and damage the screw further. Once you’ve cut a deeper slot into the screw, use a flathead screwdriver to press firmly into one side before twisting slowly. This isn’t the quickest method out there but it is worth remembering in case the quicker methods don’t seem to be doing the job.

Pull With Pliers

male hands removing a stripped screw with a pair of pliars

First, you need to expose the screw head more. This is best done if you don’t mind damaging the wood around the screw, so it is probably best to reserve this technique for something that you are refurbishing or for something that is being dismantled to be disposed of safely. Next, you need to get a good grip with a set of locking pliers. The trick is to turn slowly until the screw loosens. Again, you need some patience for this one.

Add a Hammer

This one requires a bit of a knack and is probably not the best trick for those who are a bit uncertain about it. For those who are confident in their ability to proceed, here is how it works. First, you need to get the head of a screwdriver that is an appropriate size (attached to the rest of the screwdriver, we might add). Taking the hammer, you then need to gently tap it in. This stripped screw removal idea involves effectively lodging the screwdriver head into the screw, giving you the extra grip needed to then begin loosening, and finally, removing that pesky stripped screw.

Try a Flathead Screwdriver

This only works if you have a Phillips head screw. It is also the most labor-intensive of the options we’ve given. Essentially, you need to wedge the head of the screwdriver into the screw, and slowly turn. It is all about getting the right angle and just enough application of strength to start to get the screw moving again. This isn’t a catch-all solution as it takes a specific screw to work, but it is worth including anyway.


So there you have it. Seven suggestions on how to remove stripped screws. Knowing how to remove a stripped screw really should be common knowledge among professionals and DIYers alike, so go ahead and share this article with as many people as possible! Do you know any other tips and tricks that we haven’t mentioned? We’d love to hear from you. All of these methods of how to remove a stripped screw from work are a little limited in terms of the material involved.

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