How to Remove a Stripped Screw

A Few Simple Tools and Methods for Removing Stripped Screws

By Mark J. Donovan

Stripping a screw and then having to remove it can be a real frustrating pain in the neck experience. It can also be extremely detrimental to the material that it is embedded into if it is of high value, such as a kitchen cabinet, and you simply try to rip it out with a pair of pliers. Fortunately there are a number of tools and methods for removing stripped screws that can be of immense help.

Alden’s “Pro Grabit” extractor tool is probably the best tool on the market for removing stripped screws and you can find it online or in most home improvement centers.

The Alden 8440P Pro Grabit Broken Bolt and Damaged Screw Extractor 4 Piece Kit has a reamer end and a remover end. Simply place the Grabit tool bit in a screw gun with the reamer end outwards. Then, with the screw gun selected in reversed rotation mode, gently apply pressure to the screw gun with the reamer positioned directly over the center of the stripped screw. Once a cone shaped depression has been reamed into the top of the screw, reverse the Grabit bit in the screw gun and place the remover end into the cone shaped area of the stripped screw. Then, with the screw gun still in reverse, lightly push on the screw gun trigger and back the stripped screw out slowly.

If you don’t feel inclined to go out and purchase a “Pro Grabit” tool bit, you can often have similar success with your screw gun, a standard drill bit, and a Philips head screw driver. Again, simply bore a cone shaped depression into the top of the stripped screw with the screw gun and drill bit. Then, use the appropriate sized Philips head screw driver to back the screw out. Push down firmly with the screw driver into the cone shaped hole so that you get adequate traction to extract the stripped screw.

Another method to remove a stripped screw is to use a Dremel tool to cut a notched crease in the top of the stripped screw head. You can then use a common screw driver to extract the stripped screw.

If the stripped screw is sticking sufficiently out of the material to get a pair of vise grips on it, you can often remove the screw by simply rotating the screw counter clockwise in the locked jaws of the vice grip. A little extra care is needed with this approach to ensure that you don’t damage the material as you rotate the vise grips and back the stripped screw out.

Lastly, if you are less concerned about the material that the stripped screw is fastened into you can try using a hammer to seat the screwdriver, be it a Philips or Common screw driver. Often the stripped screw metal is soft enough that the screw driver can be sufficiently embedded into the screw head, via the aid of a hammer, to allow you to extract the stripped screw.

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