It’s a novice carpenter’s worst nightmare: you’re trying to tighten or remove a screw and you find the head is stripped. You press the screwdriver or drill bit into the head and try to turn, but there’s no friction. First, try throwing a little back into your screw twists. If that fails, try one (or more) of these stripped screw removal tips.
Our first round of suggestions comes from the DIY experts at Stack Exchange.
Drill Into the Screw
Damaged screws can be 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.
Use a Rubber Band
Use a rubber band. (This method also previously seen at Lifehacker.) — Answered by zzzzBov
Cut a Notch in the Screw Head
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
Try the Grabit Pro
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. — Answered by onaclov2000
If you are looking for yet more methods, consider these from Remove and Replace DIY Home Projects:
Break out the glue
Glue a nut to the top of the screw and remove it with a wrench. This one will depend on your ability to get the nut to adhere to the screw without accidentally glueing it to the wood itself, so proceed with caution.
Use a larger size screwdriver
This is one of those “so simple it just might work” ideas, but if the screw in question isn’t too severely stripped, you may be able to remove it simply by making the attempt with a larger size screwdriver.
Got a secret for extracting a stripped screw? Leave your suggestion in the comments.
This story was originally published in April 2012 and updated with additional methods in September 2020.