How to Unscrew a Stripped Screw: A Step-by-Step Guide


Stripped screws are a common problem that can occur during a DIY project or everyday use of an item. They occur when the parts of the screwdriver and screw grind away the material that grips and conducts the force. However common they are, the truth is that they can be frustrating and challenging to remove. Unscrewing a stripped screw can require some level of creativity, patience and most of all, the right tools. But with this step-by-step guide and a little bit of persistence, you can get that stripped screw out without breaking a sweat.

DIY Methods: How to Unscrew a Stripped Screw Using Common Household Items

There’s no need to rush to the store to buy an extractor set just yet. Simple household items that are likely lying around can be used to remove stripped screws.

Method 1: Rubber Band

This method works best with screws that still have a protruding edge. The rubber band works as a grip, increasing the coefficient of friction between the screwdriver and the stripped screw.

What You’ll Need: A rubber band, a screwdriver with a flat head

  1. Place the rubber band over the screw.
  2. Press the screwdriver into the rubber band, using firm pressure.
  3. Turn the screwdriver until it grips the screw and turns it out of place.

Tips and Tricks: Use a wide rubber band or multiple rubber bands to increase grip. This technique can also work with a Phillips head screwdriver and a small slice of an old bike tube

Method 2: Pliers

Pliers are also a great option to remove stripped screws, and they work better when the screw head sits slightly above the surface. This approach uses the pliers to twist the screw out of place.

What You’ll Need: Thin-nosed pliers and a firm grip

  1. Place the pliers around the screw head.
  2. Press down firmly on the pliers and twist clockwise or anti-clockwise, depending on the direction of the screw.
  3. The screw should come out by gently twisting it.

Tips and Tricks: Grip the pliers as far down as possible to maximize leverage. For small screws, use small pliers.

Method 3: Hammer and Screwdriver

This method is best for larger screws that are harder to remove. The shock from tapping the screw with a hammer loosens the threads and helps the screwdriver gain better traction.

What You’ll Need: A hammer, a flat-head screwdriver you always use

  1. Put the screwdriver on the stripped screw head and lightly tap it with the hammer a couple of times.
  2. Press down firmly on the screwdriver and turn the screwdriver to unscrew the stripped screw.

Tips and Tricks: Ensure you align the screwdriver on the screw head correctly to prevent further damage. Use light taps and a gentle hand when striking the screw to avoid breaking the screwdriver.

The Toolbox Fix: A Handy Guide to Unscrewing Stripped Screws with Various Tools

Whether you’re a professional in the repair industry or an avid DIY enthusiast, here are some of the best tools to remove stripped screws.

Method 1: Screw Extractor

A screw extractor set is one of the most useful tools in your toolbox as it can easily remove stripped screws, especially those with recessed heads.

What You’ll Need: Screw extractor set, a drill with a reverse function

  1. Place the extractor bit onto the screw head and drill in slowly and steadily, using a drill bit size that matches the extractor.
  2. Use the reverse function on the drill to unscrew the stripped screw.

Tips and Tricks: Apply some firm pressure while drilling into the screwhead, but do not overdo it. After it bites through, use a slow, steady twist to loosen the screw.

Method 2: Pneumatic Impact Wrench

An impact wrench is a powerful tool that can remove all types of screws, even the most difficult ones, in just a few seconds. It works by exerting tremendous rotational force simultaneously with rapid-fire repetitiveness.

What You’ll Need: a pneumatic impact wrench, the correct-sized impact socket

  1. Attach the correct-sized impact socket onto the impact wrench.
  2. Hold the wrench securely and turn it on to exert force on the screw.
  3. The screw should turn easily and quickly come out of place.

Tips and Tricks: Adjust the pressure settings based on the screw’s size, preheat the screw when dealing with rusty and old screws, and ensure the machine is properly grounded to minimize electric shock risk.

Method 3: Angle Grinder

An angle grinder is a power tool used for cutting, grinding, and polishing. With the right disc, it can help remove stripped screws easily.

What You’ll Need: An angle grinder, a metal-cutting disc

  1. Insert a metal-cutting disc onto the angle grinder.
  2. Align the disc on the stripped screw head and apply steady pressure, cutting a line through the screw head.
  3. Break the screw with pliers and remove it.

Tips and Tricks: Angle grinders are powerful machines, so wear protective gear, and don’t apply too much pressure to avoid damaging the surrounding material.

Tape It Up: Techniques to Remove Stripped Screws using Adhesive Tapes

Adhesive tapes can be a quick fix for extracting stripped screws without causing damage to the surrounding material.

Method 1: Duct Tape

Duct tape is a versatile and strong adhesive tape that can temporarily adhere to the stripped screw, making it easier to extract.

What You’ll Need: Duct tape, flat-head screwdriver, pliers

  1. Cut a small strip of duct tape and place it on top of the stripped screw.
  2. Poke a small hole in the middle of the duct tape using the screwdriver.
  3. Insert the screwdriver into the hole, and with a firm grip and apply rotational force.
  4. If the screw is still stuck, use pliers to grip the screw and twist it out.

Tips and Tricks: Duct tape works better with flat-headed screws. A layer of double-sided tape over the flat-head screwdriver makes the grip firmer.

Method 2: Masking Tape

Masking tape holds strong, and unlike duct tape, it won’t leave any sticky residue. It works by filling the void between the screw and the screwdriver, providing additional holding pressure.

What You’ll Need: Masking tape, flat-head screwdriver

  1. Wrap masking tape around the screwdriver until it fits snugly inside the screw head.
  2. Press down firmly and rotate the screwdriver to remove the stripped screw.

Tips and Tricks: For better hold, fold the tape into a narrow strip lengthwise and wrap it around the screwdriver handle.

The Drilling Fix: How to Use a Drill to Remove Stripped Screws Safely and Quickly

A drill is one of the most useful tools for fixing stripped screws. It works by cutting into the screw to loosen it for extraction.

Method 1: Drill Bit

A drill bit can be used for screws that have protruding heads or the top of the screw is already removed. It’s a simple yet effective way to extract screws.

What You’ll Need: A drill, a drill bit that is smaller than the screw’s shank

  1. Select a drill bit that is smaller than the screw head and drill into the center of the screwdriver slot.
  2. Use pliers or vice grips to unscrew the bolt.

Tips and Tricks: Use a light grip when holding the screw in vice grips to avoid further damage.

Method 2: Screw Extractor Bit

A screw extractor bit is suitable for recessed screws with a broken head or those with no protruding edge.

What You’ll Need: A drill, screw extractor bit

  1. Drill a hole in the screw using the drill bit that came with the screw extractor kit.
  2. Select a matching screw extractor size and insert it into the drilled hole and turn it counterclockwise until it bites the screw.
  3. Use the firm pressure to remove the screw from its place.

Tips and Tricks: Do not over-tighten the drill on the extractor to prevent shearing it off; Apply some oil to the stripped screw to make it easy to extract.

Caution: Warning Signs That You Are on The Verge of Stripping A Screw and How to Fix It

Prevention is better than cure! Here are some signs that you might be on the verge of stripping a screw and what to do to fix it before it happens.

Explanation of What Leads to Stripped Screws

Several factors can cause screws to become stripped, including improper tool usage, over-tightening, rust and other forms of corrosion.

Warning Signs to Watch Out For

  • The screwdriver not fitting into the screw head correctly
  • The screwdriver slipping off the screw head
  • You observe rust or corrosion on the screw head or shaft
  • The screw is excessively tight or difficult to turn

Tips on How to Handle Stripped Screws

  • Avoid applying too much force or over-tightening the screw
  • Select the appropriate screwdriver size for the screw head
  • Apply pressure when inserting the screwdriver, aligning it correctly on the screw
  • Use lubricants like oil to enable the screw to turn smoothly


Unscrewing a stripped screw can be challenging, but with the right tools and creativity, it can be easily removed without damaging surrounding materials. This article has provided an in-depth guide on various methods for extracting stripped screws, from DIY methods to a toolbox fix and drilling fixes. It also highlights the importance of being mindful when dealing with screws. Remember to always keep caution in mind. Give these methods a try, and you’ll be a pro at unscrewing stripped screws in no time!

So, the next time you run into the frustrating problem of a stripped screw, skip the panic and use one of the simple yet efficient methods mentioned in this article. Once you find the right solution for the job, you can save plenty of time and avoid the headache of dealing with stripped screws.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Courier Blog by Crimson Themes.