How to Remove a Screw with a Stripped Head

Understanding the Types of Stripped Screws

Before attempting to remove a stripped screw, it’s important to understand the different types of stripped screws that you may encounter.

One type of stripped screw is when the head becomes rounded or flattened, making it difficult to get a screwdriver or other tool to grip onto it. Another type is when the screw itself becomes damaged, such as the threads becoming worn down or stripped.

It’s also important to note that different materials can affect how easily a screw becomes stripped. For example, screws in soft materials such as plastic may be more prone to stripping than screws in harder materials like metal.

By identifying the type of stripped screw you are dealing with, you can choose the best method to remove it and avoid further damage to the surrounding materials.

Using Pliers to Grip and Turn the Screw

One method to remove a stripped screw is to use pliers to grip and turn the screw. To do this, choose a pair of pliers with a good grip, such as needle-nose pliers or locking pliers.

First, position the pliers on the head of the screw and apply firm pressure to grip onto it. Then, while maintaining pressure with the pliers, try turning the screw counterclockwise. If the screw is not budging, try applying more pressure with the pliers and turning again.

It’s important to be careful not to damage the surrounding materials while using pliers. To protect the surface, you can use a cloth or tape to cover it before attempting to remove the screw.

If the pliers method does not work, you may need to try a different method such as applying heat or drilling out the screw.

Applying Heat to Loosen the Screw

Another method to remove a stripped screw is to apply heat to the surrounding area to expand the metal and loosen the screw. To do this, you can use a heat source such as a hairdryer, heat gun, or soldering iron.

Before applying heat, make sure to protect any surrounding materials that may be sensitive to heat. You can use a heat-resistant cloth or tape to cover the area around the screw.

Next, heat the surrounding area for about 30 seconds to a minute, depending on the heat source and the size of the screw. Then, try turning the screw counterclockwise with a screwdriver or pliers. The heat should have expanded the metal, making it easier to turn the screw.

If the screw still does not come out, you may need to reapply heat and try again. Be careful not to overheat the area or hold the heat source too close to the material, as this can cause damage.

Drilling Out the Screw

If the above methods do not work, the last resort is to drill out the stripped screw. This method involves drilling a hole into the center of the screw to create a new grip for a screwdriver or pliers.

To do this, first choose a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the screw head. Then, use the drill to make a hole in the center of the screw. Be careful not to drill too deep and damage the surrounding materials.

Once the hole is drilled, you can use a screwdriver or pliers to turn the screw counterclockwise and remove it. If the screw still does not come out, you may need to continue drilling until the screw is completely removed.

After removing the screw, you may need to use a tap and die set to create new threads in the material if the screw has damaged them.

Drilling out a stripped screw can be a risky and potentially damaging method, so it’s important to exhaust all other options before attempting this method.

Prevention Tips to Avoid Stripping Screws in the Future

Preventing screws from becoming stripped in the first place can save time and frustration in the long run. Here are some tips to avoid stripping screws in the future:

  1. Use the right screwdriver or tool for the job. Using a tool that is too small or too large can cause the screw to become stripped.

  2. Apply even pressure when turning the screw. If the screwdriver or tool slips, it can damage the head of the screw and cause it to become stripped.

  3. Avoid overtightening screws. Tightening screws beyond what is necessary can cause the threads to wear down and become stripped.

  4. Use lubrication such as oil or WD-40 to make turning the screw easier.

  5. If possible, use screws made of harder materials such as stainless steel or titanium. These are less likely to become stripped than screws made of softer materials such as aluminum or brass.

By following these prevention tips, you can avoid the headache of dealing with stripped screws in the future.

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