How To Remove Screws With Stripped Heads

How To Remove Screws With Stripped Heads

You don’t have to be a professional carpenter to come across stripped screws. In fact, if you’re stripping screws, you’re probably not a carpenter. Also, you should throw a little back into your screw twists. And if that fails, try these friendly stripped screw removing tips from the DIY experts at Stack Exchange.

Photo provided by Stack Exchange.


I have Phillips head wood screws whose heads are stripped from my attempts at removing them with a drill. What can I use to remove these screws easily?

LordHits (originally asked here)

Answer: The Conventional Method

Damaged screws are extracted by drilling into the screw with a drill bit, then using a special screw extractor bit that is tapered and has threads which turn opposite to those of the screw.

The extraction process should be done slowly and carefully because the extraction process is more fragile than the normal insertion of a screw.

Check out Gilles’ Outlet for a detailed writeup of the process explained above.

Answered by Jeff Ferland


Answer: The Clever Shortcut

Use a rubber band. (As previously seen at Lifehacker.)

Answered by zzzzBov


Answer: Cut & Remove

Use a dremel or hacksaw to cut a notch in the screw head and then use a slotted screwdriver to remove it.

Answered by Tester101


Answer: Pro Grabit

The Pro Grabit extracts stripped and broken screws. All you need is a portable drill. I’ve used it a couple of times and it’s worked every time.

Answered by lqlarry


Answer: Pliers, Duh

I’ve found a pair of vise-grip pliers work great, as long as the screw isn’t buried all the way. Just clamp down around the head and start turning.

Keep in mind, this method might damage the wood around the screw as the jaws of the vise grip scrape the surface.

Good luck.

Answered by onaclov2000

Think you know the secret to extracting a stripped screw? Leave your suggestion in the comments or submit it at Stack Exchange, an expert knowledge exchange on diverse topics from software programming to cycling to scientific scepticism.


  • If the head is recessed (e.g., in a connector) and you can’t access it to perform any of the above techniques, sometimes you may be able to take a small flathead screwdriver and a hammer to gently coax it loose by placing the screwdriver along one edge of the screw head and tapping it with the hammer to unscrew it. If it’s not too tight you may be able to loosen it enough to be able to remove it.

  • The only time I’ve had an issue is working with very small screws, screws used in electrical items like laptops that are often quite tiny and flush, where these kinds of methods simply don’t work because they have larger screws in mind, not too mention LOCTITE, goddamn I hate it >:\

  • My favorite with small head electrical screws is to drill the head off the screw entirely with a small bit.
    Once the head is gone, remove the shield or shrouding and then use pliers to remove the remaining threads. Not for the clutzy or shaky handed.
    Needless to say, most cheaper bits that small dull quickly, and with the slightest off center pressure will snap the tip off the bit, driving the remaining bit into your bracing hand.

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