Screws are great! They are easy to use, easy to get out and you can use them again and again. However, we all know what happens if the head is damaged or you have used an inappropriate screwdriver and you cannot get them out – the screwdriver just turns and turns and the harder you try, the more you strip the screw head. How do you get the thing out? Thumping it with a hammer may provide momentary satisfaction but it is unlikely that it will help you get the traction you need to get the screw out.
If this is a familiar scenario to you, we are here to help! Below are some of our top tips for removing stripped screws. Some solutions require a little careful patience, and some are just pure genius.
We will start with one that fits into the genius category. In the same way the good old rubber band can be used to open stuck jam jars, it can also be the simplest way to get the damaged screw out (providing you have a rubber/elastic band).
So, top tip number 1 - rubber bands
A rubber band’s mix of flexibility and friction can help give you more grip on the head of the screw by simply placing the rubber band over the head of the screw then inserting the screwdriver and applying pressure, slowly turning the screw from the material. The more downward pressure you put on the screw head the greater the grip and the more likely you are to get the screw to turn and slowly release.
Top tip number 2 - hammer and manual screwdriver
One of the reasons your screw might have been stripped and you cannot get it out is because the screw is made of softer material than the screwdriver. We can now use this to your advantage by tapping the screwdriver into the head of the screw. This should lodge the tip of the screwdriver into the screw, giving you the chance to unscrew it. Try using a slightly smaller, sharper screwdriver to begin with as this will have more of a chance of making a deeper mark.
Top tip number 3 - use pliers or grips
If top tips 1 and 2 have not done the trick, it might be time for a bit more force, but be careful not to damage the screw too much or the material you have screwed into. For partly exposed screws, pliers or grips will be able to grip on to the screw and rotate it from the material. Remember, it is important to try and do this at 90 degrees to the material it is screwed into. As you flex your wrists it is natural to twist up or down which will cause the screw to be pulled out at an angle, damaging what it was screwed into as a result.
Top tip number 4 - drill into the stripped screw head
If you have a drill handy, by drilling a small hole into the stripped screw head, you should be able to give your screwdriver enough depth and leverage to rotate the screw. We would recommend using a rubber band at the same time (our top tip number 1) to maximise your chances of success at the first attempt. Be careful not to drill too far, otherwise the head could snap off completely and we are back at square one, which we covered in the opening paragraph where we said, “Thumping it with a hammer may provide momentary satisfaction but it is unlikely that it will help you get the traction you need and the screw out!”
Top tip number 5 - try to loosen the screw from the material.
Over time it is possible that the screw has started to bond to the material it has been screwed into. This can be caused by minor corrosion of either the screw or the surface material, sap from wood, mild rust, or deterioration of the tread. Whatever the cause, this extra grip could cause the screwdriver head to slip and start the process of stripping the screw. To resolve this, apply WD40, wait for it to penetrate the material to provide some lubrication, also, apply WD40 to the screw head. Once it has set, firmly insert your screwdriver and twist. Combined with the lubrication, the WD40 may help to get enough leverage to loosen the screw.
If this all sounds like a lot of trouble, you could always look at prevention rather than cure and buy higher quality screws that do not strip. Shop our range of A2 and A4 stainless steel screws by clicking here . After all, life is too short for unnecessary problems like this.