Sometimes a project can hit a snag when a stripped screw refuses to come out. Necessity is the mother of invention, however, and there are a few clever ways to get around this problem.
If the screw is in metal, use a drill bit size that matches the head of the screw and a screw extractor. This will usually do the trick.
1. Weld a Nut
If you have a screw with no head that you need to remove, weld it into place. Then use a screw extractor to remove it.
Using a weld nut in this way is not ideal, especially for long-term loads. Weld nuts have smaller load-carrying capacity than traditional hex bolts. This is due to the projection and spot-welding methods used in their manufacture.
In addition, the welded metal expands differently than the host material. This can result in a screw seizing. The good news is that there are other options besides welding it in place. Choose a high-quality drill bit that is a little smaller than the screw’s shaft. Then line up the drill bit with the screw shaft and, at a low speed setting, slowly start drilling into it.
2. Hammer in a Screwdriver
Often, a stripped screw isn’t all that deep into the metal. If there’s daylight between the head and the surface it’s attached to, try a pair of locking pliers (also known as vise grips). They may be able to grab hold of the screw.
If that fails, size-up your screwdriver bit. Pick a driver bit that’s slightly larger than the shaft of the screw. That way, your screwdriver will be able to get a better grip on the screw.
Another trick is to spray the screw with penetrating and lubricating oil. WD-40 or Liquid Wrench are popular choices. Then smack the screw with a hammer a few times to break up the rust and loosen the threads. Then use a screwdriver or drill to remove it.
3. Pull it out with Pliers
If your screw has been stripped completely and there is no sign of the head, you will need to get a bit more destructive. Grab your drill and a left-handed drill bit that is narrower than the head of the screw. Put the drill in reverse and tap it firmly against the screw.
When you feel the screw loosen up, remove the drill bit and use pliers to grip it. Locking pliers are best, as they can deliver much more gripping force than regular pliers. Alternatively, you can also buy special pliers designed as screw extractors that have a built-in tip that can grab stubborn screws and pull them out. They are available in most home centers and hardware stores. They are very handy for removing screws from metal and other hard materials.
4. Drive-in a Screwdriver with a Rubber Band
Sometimes, when a screw gets stripped in metal it just needs a little extra grip to get it turning and out. While this is not ideal, it can work in a pinch.
Grab a screwdriver that is one size larger than the screw, and put a wide-band rubber band between it and the stripped screw. This will fill in the space and make the screw much easier to remove or at least loosen.
Alternatively, use a screw removal tool such as the Nejisaurus Bazooka grip, and a bit that fits the screw. Tap the bit with a hammer first to dig it in, and then turn it. It may take a while, but it works. This is also a good way to avoid damaging the head of the screw by applying less force.
5. Make a New Head
Screws are practically our life saviors, but they can also be a pain in the neck when stripped. Luckily, there are plenty of hacks to help you deal with these troublesome screws.
You can use a screw extractor to get the job done. This is a hollow drill bit that works much like a standard screw. Load it into the hole, and then turn the drill in reverse to bite into the stripped screw.
This is a great way to remove a screw with no head from metal, especially if the screw is rusted or seized. Just be sure to keep a steady hand and apply enough force. And don’t forget to wear protective gear when working with power tools. You don’t want to end up with a broken screw in your hand!