How to remove a stripped screw

A screw with the splines torn off tightly is one with the recesses on the head completely worn off. The screwdriver or hand screwdriver had nothing left to grab onto.

Fortunately, you have plenty of ways to remove this stripped screw with its loose splines. All of these methods use tools or materials that you may already have on hand-drills, pliers, steel wool, and even abrasive powder or rubber band.

How to remove a stripped screw
Ksenia Chernaya

Why are the edges of the screw torn off

There are several negative factors that explain why the head does not unscrew:

  • corrosion of metal, as a result, the structure of the material is disrupted, it loses its properties, becomes less durable, crumbles, this leads to the fact that the master during the repair will not be able to dismantle, unscrewing rusty fasteners;
  • the screw has the property of scrolling if it was installed in a structure made of unsuitable material.

The problem of how to unscrew the screw occurs when the rules for using the tool are violated. The problem occurs when the rules for using the tool are violated.

Phillips screwdriver

Possible causes of fastener damage:

  • poor quality of the tool: the metal is too soft, which contributes to the constant slipping of the screwdriver, sharp edges are blunted due to wear, this also does not allow you to firmly fix the screw in the slot, in addition, the tool may not be properly selected for such work (does not correspond to the size of the head);
  • weak forces in the process of unscrewing fasteners, while the screwdriver is not held in the slot, constantly slips, as a result, the head is deformed, for this reason, it is called “licked”;
  • at the installation stage, the fasteners were installed in a structure made of a material that does not match the screws, because of this, it is scrollable, and you will not be able to pull out such hardware with a screwdriver.

The tool may not be properly selected for this task

Screwdriver bits

A common problem with the use of power tools is the wrong choice of speed of its operation. To drill the fasteners, apply moderate effort. The duration of operation of the screwdriver should be short. If you drill the screw intensively, the slot is deformed. As a result, you will have to additionally decide how to unscrew a screw with a damaged head, which will increase the time required to complete the work. If you drill the screw intensively, the slot will deform

Why is a stripped screw difficult to remove

Any metal fasteners are inevitably exposed to corrosion and rust over time. The process is accelerated if the screw is often exposed to an aggressive environment:

  • contact with water;
  • interaction with chemicals, including detergents;
  • street dirt, dust, caustic salts-they accelerate the corrosion process.

Despite the special protective coatings against rust, if the surface of the fastener was even slightly damaged, then over time the process of destruction is inevitable.

After some time, the screw must be removed and replaced, but often there is a problem – it does not unscrew. Due to oxidative processes of metal on fasteners and parts, rust increases, and the surfaces “grab” together. If this process develops at the location of the screw thread, then the situation becomes even more difficult.

How to get out a stripped screw

Use a flat head screwdriver

If you are trying to remove a broken Phillips head screw, switch to a manual flathead screwdriver. If you push hard, you can often dig into the head of the screw by turning the screwdriver at an angle.

Use a larger bit size

Replace the bit in your drill with another one designed for a larger head screw. A larger bit can distribute pressure over most of the screw head, helping to turn it out.

Unscrew the screw with pliers

If you can grab the screw head with pliers, this is usually the most reliable method of removing a screw with the splines torn off. Locking pliers are particularly useful when using this method. Even if you can barely get a grip on the outer rim of the screw head, this is enough to start unscrewing the screw.

If you’re working with wood and you’re having trouble gripping the screw head, try making a couple of indentations next to it.

Tap the screwdriver with a hammer

Attach a screwdriver to the broken screw. Then tap the handle of the screwdriver lightly with a hammer. In many cases, this is enough to insert the screwdriver a little deeper into the head of the screw.

Use a manual screwdriver

If you have tried to remove the screw with a screwdriver, it is often enough to use a hand-held screwdriver for the same type of screw to remove the screw. A hand-held screwdriver gives you more control over the torque than a screwdriver, which can sometimes make things worse.

Use steel wool

Poor screw grip is always a problem. Your screwdriver just keeps spinning on the broken head of the screw. One way to ensure grip is to insert steel wool between the screw head and the screwdriver.

Cut a slot for a flat-slotted screwdriver

Use the grinder to cut a groove on the screw to create a groove for the flathead screwdriver.

Use abrasive powder

As with steel wool, the more grip there is between the screw head and the screwdriver, the better. You can sprinkle a small amount of abrasive cleaning powder or fine sand on the surface of the screw, then attach a screwdriver to the screw and try to unscrew it. In many cases, powder or sand is sufficient to prevent the bit from slipping off the screw.

Drill the screw

Choose a drill bit that is slightly smaller in diameter than the screw head. Place it in the center of the screw head and drill it slowly to form a hole between 1 and 3 mm deep. Remove the drill bit from the screwdriver and install the cue ball. Often, the hole helps the screwdriver sink deep enough into the screw, which will improve the grip between the cue ball and the screw.

Use rubber bands for gripping

Wide elastic bands are well suited to ensure that the screwdriver has sufficient grip on the stripped screw. Cut the rubber band with scissors and place it on the head of the screw. Place the screwdriver on the rubber band and press hard, turning the screw counterclockwise.

How to prevent breaking screw edges

To prevent a problem such as a stripped screw face or the splines of a screw or screw from catching you off guard, you need to follow simple rules:

  • you only need to buy high-quality fasteners that have high strength and reliability;
  • do not allow the screwdriver to slip through the slots while tightening or unscrewing the screws or screws. This leads to their erasure and it will be difficult to unscrew such fasteners;
  • always monitor the condition of the tool. If a screwdriver or wrench has broken edges, it will be difficult to unscrew a screw, screw with their help.

It is much easier to prevent the edges of screws, and screws from licking off than to unscrew damaged fasteners later.

Do not panic when a problem such as a licked head of a screw or screw appears. There are many ways to solve it. It is necessary to adequately assess the situation that has arisen and choose one of the available options.


Before making a decision about using drastic measures to unscrew a stripped screw, inspect the reverse surface of the structure. Of course, if you have access to it. It is likely that the fastener has passed through and it can be seized with pliers and forcibly unscrewed. Do not forget to make sure that the thread direction is correct, as the screw can be provided with both left and right threads.

In the event that after removing a stripped screw, an enlarged hole remains in the base body, you can strengthen the node with larger hardware and sealant.

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