How To: Remove A Stripped Screw

How To: Remove A Stripped Screw

Beth Zeigler
Feb 5, 2009

020509screw-01.jpgWe had a bit of a Craigslist snafu yesterday when we went to pick up a dining room table in Santa Clarita. For those of you that don't know, Santa Clarita is almost 40 miles from our home in Echo Park. Unfortunately, we did not leave Santa Clarita with our Craigslist find but we did learn a thing or two about removing stripped screws...

To bring you up to speed, we knew the dimensions of the table ahead of time and figured out that the only way it would fit in our Scion is if the legs were taken off. Because we were pressed for time yesterday morning, we emailed the owner beforehand to ask if he would remove the legs. "Sure--no problem." But when we arrived, the dining room table was still intact (deep breath). We then set off to start removing the screws with the owner's power drill. Because the table was vintage, nine screws total were stripped and we started to panic. With no screw extractor on hand (and little knowledge of how to remove the stripped screws) we were out of luck. The owner looked for a pair of pliers to bail us out but regrettably could not find any. Let's just say the drive back home was frustrating so we set out to find an answer to our new burning question--how the heck to remove a stripped screw when your supplies are limited?!

  • First use a flat head screwdriver (larger than the intended size for that screw) and with a lot of force, unscrew the offending piece of metal. You'll want to stop immediately if the stripping worsens.
  • Because we already had access to a power drill, we could have attached a small, steel drill bit and drilled right down the center of the screw. This will disintegrate the screw's shaft and make it quite easy to pull out by grabbing the head of the screw.
  • If you actually find yourself with a Dremel on hand, notch the screw and attempt to remove manually with a Phillips Head screwdriver.
  • You can also attempt to drill a small hole in the top of the screw and remove with a Phillips Head.
  • Although we didn't have access to a pair of pliers, you can always attempt to grab onto the head of the screw and twist it out successfully.

Have you had experience with a stripped screw? How did you remove it (if you didn't have access to a screw extractor)?

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