How to Get a Stripped Screw Out – Ultimate Guide


Have you ever encountered a stripped screw while working on a project, causing frustration and delays? You’re not alone. Stripped screws are a common problem that many DIY enthusiasts and professionals face. When the head of a screw becomes worn or damaged, it becomes difficult to grip and remove. This can be caused by various factors such as using the wrong tools, excessive force, or simply wear and tear over time.

Dealing with stripped screws can be a challenging task, but fear not! In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through effective techniques and methods to easily remove stripped screws. Whether you’re a seasoned handyman or new to DIY projects, these tips will help you overcome this obstacle and get your project back on track.

But first, let’s understand why screws strip in the first place. By knowing the causes, you can take preventive measures to avoid this frustrating situation. So, let’s dive in and explore the world of stripped screws and how to conquer them!

What Causes Screws to Strip?

What Causes Screws to Strip?

When it comes to completing a DIY project or fixing something around the house, encountering a stripped screw can be incredibly frustrating. But why do screws strip in the first place? Understanding the common causes behind this issue can help you prevent it from happening and save you time and effort.

Poor Screwdriver Fit

One of the primary reasons screws strip is due to using the wrong size or type of screwdriver. When the screwdriver doesn’t fit properly into the screw head, it can cause the corners of the screw head to wear down, leading to stripping. Always ensure you have the correct size and type of screwdriver for the screw you are working with.


Overzealous tightening can also contribute to stripped screws. When excessive force is applied while driving a screw, it can cause the threads to become damaged, making it difficult to remove the screw later on. Take care to apply just enough pressure to secure the screw without going overboard.

Low-Quality Screws

Using low-quality screws can increase the likelihood of them stripping. These screws may have weaker materials or poorly formed threads, making them more susceptible to damage. Investing in high-quality screws can make a significant difference in preventing stripping.

Improper Pilot Holes

Pilot holes are crucial when inserting screws into wood or other materials. Without a pilot hole, there’s a higher chance of the wood splitting or the screw exerting excessive force, leading to stripping. Ensure that the diameter and depth of the pilot hole match the requirements of the screw being used.

Worn-Out Screws

Reusing worn-out screws is another common cause of stripping. Over time, screws can develop wear and tear, including worn-out threads. Using these compromised screws increases the risk of stripping. It’s best to replace old or damaged screws with new ones.


Cross-threading occurs when the screw is not aligned properly with the hole it’s being inserted into. If you force the screw in at an angle or if the threads don’t align correctly, it can lead to stripping. Always make sure the screw enters the hole smoothly and straight.

By understanding these common causes of stripped screws, you can take proactive measures to avoid encountering this frustrating issue. Using the appropriate tools, applying the right amount of force, and using high-quality screws will go a long way in preventing stripping and ensuring successful DIY projects.

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to stripped screws. Taking the time to do things right from the start can save you from unnecessary headaches down the road.

Tools and Materials You Will Need

Tools and Materials You Will Need

When it comes to removing stripped screws, having the right tools and materials is crucial. With the following essentials at your disposal, you can tackle even the most stubborn screws:

  1. Screwdriver Set: Start with a quality screwdriver set that includes various sizes and types of screw heads. This will ensure you have the right tool for the job.

  2. Pliers or Vise Grips: Pliers or vise grips can be handy when attempting to grip and turn a stripped screw. They provide an extra level of torque and leverage to help break loose tight screws.

  3. Rubber Bands: Surprisingly, rubber bands can be effective in assisting with screw removal. By placing a rubber band over the stripped screw head, it can fill in the gaps and provide enough traction for the screwdriver to catch and turn.

  4. Drill Bits: If the stripped screw is deeply embedded or has a damaged head, using drill bits can help create a new groove or indentation for the screwdriver to grip onto.

  5. Screw Extractor Set: A screw extractor set is specifically designed to remove stripped screws. These kits typically consist of a drill bit, tap, and extractor. The drill bit creates a hole in the center of the screw, while the tap helps thread the hole, allowing the extractor to grip and remove the screw.

  6. Dremel Tool: In some cases, when all else fails, a Dremel tool can come in handy. With the appropriate cutting disc or rotary tool attachment, you can carefully create a new groove or slot on the stripped screw, enabling easy removal.

  7. Penetrating Oil: When dealing with rusted or stubborn screws, applying a penetrating oil can help loosen them. WD-40 or similar lubricants can seep into the threads, reducing friction and making it easier to remove the screw.

  8. Safety Gear: Always prioritize safety when working with tools. Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from flying debris, and consider using gloves to prevent injury or provide added grip.

By having these tools and materials readily available, you’ll be well-equipped to handle any stripped screw situation that comes your way. Remember, it’s essential to choose high-quality tools to ensure efficient and safe screw removal.

Next, let’s explore the different methods you can employ to remove stripped screws effectively.

Methods to Remove Stripped Screws

Using Rubber Bands or Elastic Bands

Using Rubber Bands or Elastic Bands

When faced with a stubborn stripped screw, you might be surprised to learn that a simple rubber band or elastic band can come to your rescue. This unconventional yet effective method has saved many DIY enthusiasts from the frustration of dealing with stripped screws.

The Rubber Band Method Simplified

The rubber band method involves placing a rubber band or an elastic band between the screwdriver and the stripped screw head. This creates additional friction and allows the screwdriver to gain a better grip, making it easier to turn the stuck screw.

To use this technique, follow these steps:

  1. Select a rubber band or elastic band: Choose a band that is wide enough to cover the entire stripped area of the screw head.
  2. Position the band: Place the band over the stripped screw and make sure it lays flat against the surface.
  3. Insert the screwdriver: Press the screwdriver firmly into the screw head, ensuring it makes contact with the rubber band.
  4. Apply downward pressure: As you turn the screwdriver counterclockwise to loosen the screw, exert downward pressure to maintain a good grip.
  5. Rotate carefully: Slowly rotate the screwdriver while continuing to apply downward pressure until the screw begins to move.

Why Does the Rubber Band Method Work?

The effectiveness of this method lies in the rubber band’s ability to create extra traction between the screwdriver and the stripped screw head. As you apply force to turn the screw, the rubber band molds itself to fill the gaps and irregularities in the stripped area, providing a better grip.

Additionally, the slight elasticity of the rubber band absorbs some of the rotational forces, reducing the risk of the screwdriver slipping off and damaging the surrounding material.

Practical Tips and Considerations

While the rubber band method can be a game-changer, here are some helpful tips to maximize its success:

  • Use a wide and thick rubber band or multiple bands layered together for better grip and stability.
  • Ensure the screwdriver tip fits securely in the screw head slots before applying pressure.
  • Apply steady downward pressure to counteract any potential slipping.

An Alternative: Elastic Bands

If you don’t have a rubber band handy, an elastic band can serve as a suitable alternative. The concept remains the same – create friction and enhance grip by inserting the elastic band between the screwdriver and the stripped screw head.


The rubber band method, also known as the elastic band technique, is a quick and accessible solution for removing stripped screws. It’s an excellent trick to have up your sleeve when faced with a frustrating DIY project or furniture assembly task.

Remember, it may take some trial and error to find the right amount of pressure and rotation speed. Be patient, and soon you’ll be able to salvage that stripped screw without breaking a sweat!

Have you ever used a rubber band or elastic band to remove a stripped screw? Share your experience in the comments below!

Applying Heat to Loosen the Screw

Applying Heat to Loosen the Screw

One effective method for removing stripped screws is by applying heat. This technique can help loosen the grip of the screw and make it easier to remove. Let’s delve into the details of using heat to remove stripped screws.

Heat Method for Stripped Screws

When a screw becomes stripped, it often gets stuck due to rust, corrosion, or over-tightening. By subjecting the screw to heat, you expand the metal surrounding the screw, allowing it to break free from these obstructions. Here’s how you can use heat to your advantage:

  1. Heat Source: To apply heat, you can use a common household item like a hairdryer or a heat gun. Make sure to set the heat source to low or medium to prevent damage to the surrounding materials.

  2. Apply Heat: Direct the heat towards the head of the screw for approximately 30 seconds or until the metal feels warm to the touch. Be cautious not to overheat the area, as it may cause damage.

  3. Quick Action: Once the metal has expanded, act quickly. Use a screwdriver with good grip and apply steady pressure while turning it counterclockwise. The combination of heat and force should help break the screw free.

Using Heat to Remove Stripped Screws

It’s important to note that applying heat is most effective when used on metal screws. Plastic screws or those embedded in plastic materials may not withstand high temperatures and can be easily damaged. Exercise caution and adjust the heat intensity accordingly.

Additionally, it’s recommended to wear protective gloves while dealing with heated objects to prevent burns or injuries. Ensure proper ventilation in the area to avoid inhaling fumes generated by heating certain materials.

Loosening Screws with Heat: A Real-Life Example

To illustrate the effectiveness of this method, let’s consider a real-life scenario. Imagine you’re working on a DIY project and encounter a stubborn stripped screw that refuses to budge. Frustrated, you remember the heat method and decide to give it a try.

You grab your trusty hairdryer and set it to medium heat. After directing the warm air towards the screw for about 30 seconds, you feel the metal heating up. With renewed confidence, you firmly grip your screwdriver and apply force while turning it counterclockwise. To your surprise, the heat has done its magic, and the stripped screw starts to loosen!


Applying heat to loosen stripped screws can be a valuable technique in your toolbox. By expanding the metal around the screw, heat helps break free from rust or corrosion, making the removal process much easier. Remember to exercise caution, use appropriate protective gear, and adjust the heat intensity based on the materials involved. So, next time you encounter a stubborn stripped screw, don’t fret! Just apply some heat and watch it come loose effortlessly.

Using a Screw Extractor

Using a Screw Extractor

When it comes to stubborn stripped screws, a screw extractor tool can be your best friend. These specialized tools are designed to grip onto the stripped screw and provide the necessary leverage to remove it without causing further damage. With the right technique and a bit of patience, you can successfully extract even the most stubborn stripped screws using a screw extractor.

How Does a Screw Extractor Work?

A screw extractor is essentially a reverse-threaded drill bit specifically designed for removing stripped screws. The extractor features a unique spiral design that enables it to dig into the stripped screw and create its own groove. As you rotate the extractor counterclockwise, it bites into the screw, allowing you to effortlessly turn and remove it.

Steps to Remove a Stripped Screw with a Screw Extractor

  1. Select the Right Size: Start by choosing the appropriate screw extractor size for the stripped screw you’re dealing with. Make sure the extractor is slightly smaller than the screw head to ensure a good grip.

  2. Drill a Pilot Hole: Use a drill bit that’s smaller than the screw extractor to create a pilot hole in the center of the stripped screw. This will allow the extractor to grab hold and prevent any potential slipping.

  3. Insert the Extractor: Gently tap the screw extractor into the pilot hole using a hammer or mallet until it has a firm grip on the screw.

  4. Turn Counterclockwise: Using a wrench or pliers, slowly rotate the screw extractor counterclockwise. Apply steady pressure while turning to gradually loosen the screw from its position.

  5. Remove the Screw: As you continue turning the extractor, you should feel the resistance decrease as the screw starts to come out. Once the screw is fully loosened, carefully pull it out using your fingers or pliers.

Tips for Successful Screw Extraction

  • Ensure that the pilot hole is deep enough to accommodate the entire length of the screw extractor. This will prevent the extractor from slipping or breaking off inside the stripped screw.
  • Apply lubricant or penetrating oil to the stripped screw before attempting extraction. This can help loosen any rust or debris, making it easier for the extractor to grip.
  • If the stripped screw is located in a tight space or recessed area, consider using a flexible extension shaft with your drill to provide better access and control during the extraction process.
  • Take your time and apply gentle, consistent pressure when turning the screw extractor. Rushing or using excessive force may cause the extractor or the screw head to break.

Using a screw extractor is an effective method for removing stripped screws, but it’s important to have the right tools and technique. By following the steps outlined above and incorporating these tips, you’ll increase your chances of successful screw extraction and save yourself from frustration and potential damage to your project.

Remember, patience and perseverance are key when it comes to dealing with stripped screws. With the right approach, you’ll be able to conquer even the most stubborn screws and complete your tasks with ease.

Creating a New Groove with a Dremel

Creating a New Groove with a Dremel

When you encounter a stripped screw that seems impossible to remove, don’t despair just yet. One effective technique for tackling this stubborn problem is to use a Dremel tool to create a new groove in the stripped screw.

The Power of the Dremel Tool

The Dremel tool, with its versatile rotary cutting capabilities, can be a game-changer when it comes to removing stripped screws. With its small size and high precision, the Dremel tool allows you to make precise cuts and grooves that can help you grip and turn the screw, even if the original head is damaged.

Steps to Create a New Groove

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use a Dremel tool to create a new groove in a stripped screw:

  1. Prepare your workspace: Ensure you have a clear and stable work surface. Use safety goggles and gloves to protect yourself during the process.

  2. Select the appropriate bit: Choose a cutting or grinding bit that is suitable for the material of the screw. For example, if the screw is made of metal, a carbide or diamond-coated bit would be ideal.

  3. Secure the stripped screw: Use a vice or clamp to securely hold the object containing the stripped screw, ensuring stability during the groove creation process.

  4. Mark the center: Carefully mark the center of the stripped screw using a center punch or a sharp object. This will serve as a guide for creating the new groove.

  5. Start cutting: Turn on the Dremel tool and gently touch the cutting or grinding bit to the marked center point of the stripped screw. Slowly and steadily cut a new groove into the screw, following the existing screw pattern if possible.

  6. Increase the depth: Gradually increase the depth of the groove by making multiple passes with the Dremel tool. Take your time and maintain a steady hand to ensure accuracy.

  7. Test the grip: Once the new groove is deep enough, test its grip by inserting a compatible screwdriver into the newly created groove. Apply gentle pressure to see if the screw turns freely without slipping.

  8. Remove the stripped screw: If the grip feels secure, use the screwdriver to turn the stripped screw counterclockwise and remove it from the material. Congratulations, you’ve successfully removed a stripped screw!

Safety Precautions

While using a Dremel tool, it’s essential to follow some safety precautions:

  • Always wear eye protection to prevent any debris from entering your eyes.
  • Use gloves to protect your hands from sharp edges or hot surfaces.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling dust or fumes generated during the cutting process.
  • Keep the Dremel tool away from children and pets to prevent accidents.

Remember, practice makes perfect! It might take some trial and error to master the technique of creating a new groove with a Dremel tool, but with patience and perseverance, you’ll be able to remove those stubborn stripped screws.

So, next time you encounter a stripped screw that seems impossible to budge, don’t fret. Grab your trusty Dremel tool, follow these steps, and give that screw a brand new groove to hold onto.

Preventing Stripped Screws

Preventing Stripped Screws

Stripped screws can be a frustrating hassle, but the good news is that they can often be prevented with some simple preventive measures. By taking a few extra steps and using the right techniques, you can avoid situations where screws become stripped, saving time, effort, and potentially costly repairs. Here are some valuable tips to prevent stripped screws:

  1. Choose the Right Screwdriver: One of the main reasons screws strip is the use of incorrect or ill-fitting screwdrivers. Always select a screwdriver that matches the screw head perfectly. A properly fitting screwdriver provides better torque and reduces the risk of slippage.

  2. Apply Steady Pressure: When driving screws, apply consistent downward pressure. Avoid excessive force or angling the screwdriver, as this can cause the screw to slip or strip. By maintaining control and exerting steady pressure, you can drive the screw smoothly into place.

  3. Pre-drill Pilot Holes: For larger screws or when working with hardwoods, it’s essential to pre-drill pilot holes. This helps ensure that the screw will go in smoothly without putting excessive stress on the wood or causing the screw to strip. Pilot holes also help guide the screw, making it easier to drive in straight.

  4. Use Lubrication: When dealing with stubborn screws or screws exposed to harsh conditions, applying lubrication can make the process smoother. Lubricants like WD-40 or silicone spray can reduce friction and make it easier to turn the screw, minimizing the chances of stripping.

  5. Avoid Over-Tightening: It’s crucial not to over-tighten screws, as this can lead to stripping. Remember that screws should be snug but not excessively tight. If you encounter resistance while tightening, stop immediately to prevent damage to the screw or the material it’s being driven into.

  6. Inspect Screws and Screw Heads: Before using screws, always inspect them for any signs of damage or wear. Damaged screws or those with worn-out heads are more likely to strip. Replace any compromised screws with new ones to ensure a secure and successful installation.

  7. Choose the Right Screws: Different projects require specific types of screws. Ensure that you select the appropriate screws for your application. Using the right screw material and size ensures a better grip and reduces the likelihood of stripping.

  8. Avoid Cross-Threading: Cross-threading occurs when the screw is not aligned correctly with the hole. This can cause the screw threads and the mating threads in the material to become damaged, leading to stripping. Always start the screw straight and make sure it engages smoothly before applying pressure.

By following these preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the chances of encountering stripped screws during your projects. Taking a little extra time and care in the beginning can save you a lot of frustration later on. Remember, prevention is always better than dealing with stripped screws after the fact.

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The frustration of dealing with a stripped screw is a common experience for many DIY enthusiasts and professionals alike. However, armed with the right knowledge and techniques, you can overcome this challenge without resorting to drastic measures or abandoning your project. Throughout this guide, we have explored the causes of stripped screws, the essential tools and materials needed for extraction, and various effective methods to remove them.

By understanding how screws become stripped, you can take preventive measures to avoid this issue in the first place. Investing in high-quality screws, using the correct size and type of screwdriver, and applying appropriate pressure are all key factors in preventing future mishaps.

When faced with a stripped screw, you now have a range of strategies at your disposal. Whether it’s using rubber bands for extra grip, applying heat to loosen stubborn screws, employing a screw extractor for more severe cases, or even creating a new groove with a Dremel, these methods provide practical solutions tailored to different scenarios.

Remember, patience and perseverance are crucial when attempting to remove a stripped screw. Take your time, follow the steps carefully, and don’t be discouraged if one method doesn’t immediately yield results. Sometimes, a combination of techniques may be necessary to achieve success.

Ultimately, mastering the art of removing stripped screws empowers you to tackle any project with confidence. No longer will a stubborn screw hold you back or derail your progress. With the knowledge gained from this guide, you possess the skills to overcome this common obstacle and continue creating, fixing, or building with ease.

So, the next time you encounter a stripped screw, remember that it is not an insurmountable problem. Armed with the right tools, techniques, and a little bit of patience, you can conquer this challenge and achieve the satisfaction of completing your project seamlessly. Happy screw extracting!

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