How to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole

What Is A Stripped Screw?

When the head of the screw gets so damaged that you can not remove it easily with a screwdriver, then we call that screw a ‘stripped screw.’ In this case, the screw head gets so damaged that you can not fit it accurately into a bit. So, working with the screw becomes a laborious job.

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Step 2: Dispose of Metal Shavings

Now that there is a nice round hole in your screw,
  • Now that there is a nice round hole in your screw, you might be thinking that it’s even more stripped (and you’d be right!)
  • Properly dispose of any metal shavings resulting from the prior destruction, and grab your Torx driver bit. Play with the bit sizes until you find one that just barely fits in the freshly bored hole
  • Once a suitable Torx bit has been found, grab the screwdriver and prepare for the “Grip Phase”. Here the stripped screw will finally be expunged

Fill the Hole and Redrive the Screw

If driving a larger screw is not practical, the next-best fix is to fill the screw hole with small strips of the same type of wood, then re-drive the screw.

Cut some thin strips or shavings from a piece of scrap wood from the same (or similar) species of wood. Dip the tips of the strips into wood glue and tap them lightly into the hole with a hammer until the hole is filled. Let the glue dry for a few hours.

Trim off the strips with a sharp knife or chisel if they're sticking out of the hole, and sand the area, if necessary. Use an awl or drill with small twist bit to bore a very small pilot hole into the filled wood, then drive the original screw into the pilot hole.

It's best to cut the filler strips from the same type of wood because it will look and behave the same as the original wood. If you use hardwood filler strip in a softwood piece, for example, the hardwood might split the softwood as it expands when the screw is driven in. Or, if you use softwood filler in hardwood, the filler may not be durable enough to hold the screw.

High Sierra and Testing RAM

3. Pull with Pliers

Photo: shutterstock.com

Photo: shutterstock.com

Inspect the screw head closely. If there’s any daylight between the screw head and the surface to which it’s fastened…

  1. See if you can get hold of the screw with a pair of locking pliers (also known as vise grips).
  2. If you can get the tool to grab firm hold of the screw, you should be able to turn the pliers until the screw loosens and pulls away.

This isn’t the least labor-intensive option, but under the right circumstances, it works like a charm.

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Cut a Slot For a Flat-Head Screwdriver

The Spruce

Use a rotary cutting tool or a multi-tool fitted with a metal blade to cut a slot on the screw. Cut the slot straight across to create a groove for the blade of a flat-head screwdriver.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) FAQ

How do you remove a stripped screw by hand?

In most instances, you won’t be able to remove a screw with your bare hands. You’ll need either a rubber band and screwdriver or an extractor.

How do you remove a stripped screw without tools?

You’ll need a rubber band and a screwdriver to remove the screw. The rubber band serves as a filler and adds grip to the screw head. Stretch the rubber band over the head of the screw and press the screwdriver into the rubber band to twist it out.

How do you unscrew a stripped screw?

Your best bet is to use a screw extractor kit or if possible, use pliers to pull it out. If the head of the screw isn’t stripped, you can use a rubber band to grip the screw with a screwdriver to get it out.

How to Remove a Small Stripped Screw

A stripped screw is a stripped screw. It can be easier to remove a smaller screw, but the processes are the same. You can use all of the methods and tips here to remove the small screw. In most instances, a rubber band is your best bet.

How to Get a Stripped Screw Out of Wood

Locking pliers is one of the best ways to remove a screw from wood. Lock the pliers around the head of the screw and twist it until the screw comes out. If that doesn’t work, you can also use a screw extraction kit made specifically for removing stripped screws. 

How to Remove a Stripped Allen Screw

Allen screws can be trickier to deal with if it’s stripped because it’s likely in a piece of furniture. And you don’t want to ruin the furniture by prying it out. 

As long as the head of the Allen screw is exposed, you can use locking pliers to twist the screw out. If the head of the tool is stripped but still accessible, you can use a rotary tool to indent the screw to fit a screwdriver and then remove it. You can also use a substance like Screw Grab to make the screw easier to grip and remove. 

How to Get a Stripped Screw Out of Metal

When your screw gets stripped in metal, it likely needs just a bit more grip to pull it out. Using a rubber band will give you the extra support you need to remove the screw.

Matchstick/Toothpick Fix

For a quick fix—particularly in softwoods—tap a few wooden matchsticks (with the heads cut off) or wooden toothpicks into the hole. You can use a few drops of wood glue in the hole before filling it with matchsticks, but gluing isn't absolutely necessary. The matchsticks are consistent widths and are thick enough that they shouldn't snap off when driving them into the hole. Hardwood dowels also can work, depending on the size of the hole you need to fill. Snap off the matchsticks or toothpicks flush with the wood surface, and sand the surface smooth before driving in the screws.

The Different Methods for Removing Stripped Allen Screws

There are different ways to extract a stripped Allen screw from a piece of furniture or any other kind of surface. However, you cannot use all of the available methods in all situations.

Sometimes, the condition of the Allen screw will determine which tools and techniques you can use. You may also end up having to purchase a new tool in some cases.

Method 1: Turn to Your Trusty Pair of Pliers

If the hex screw you’re looking to remove has a fully exposed head, removing it will be relatively easy. You’ll just need the pliers in your toolbox.

With pliers in hand, grab the head of the hex screw firmly. Make sure that the jaws are locked tightly over the screw head. You can tell the grip of the pliers is tight if the head is compressed a bit.

Now that the jaws of the pliers have secured the screw head, start twisting the screw out. Be careful with how much force you apply to prevent the screw head from breaking off. You can pull out the last bit of the screw by hand to prevent it from breaking. If you encounter resistance, return to the pliers to extract the screw even more.

Things You’ll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Screw extractor, screw extractor bit, or screw extractor kit. ($1-$20 in your local hardware store)
  • Socket wrench
  • Power drill
  • Metal-drilling drill bit
  • Eye protection
  • Work gloves
  • Hammer or mallet
  • Impact wrench
  • Screw extractor
  • Locking pliers
  • Duct tape, rubber band, steel wool, or abrasive pad

5. Enhance Your Screwdrivers Grip with a Hammer

Photo: shutterstock.com

Photo: shutterstock.com

If the screw is made of soft metal—which is the kind most likely to become stripped in the first place—grab your hammer.

  1. Use the hammer to tap the screwdriver down into the screw head.
  2. Lodge the screwdriver as firmly as you can into the screw head.

Doing so may provide the extra grip you need to twist the fastener.

Suggested Tools – Best Cordless Impact Drivers

We are discussing how to remove stripped screws with an impact driver. If you have followed the article by this time, you will know how easy it is to remove stripped screws with an impact driver. But, without a good impact driver, you are not going to achieve it. That’s why we have listed some of the finest impact drivers in the market. They are: 

1. Milwaukee M12 Surge Impact driver

The M12 Fuel can drive every fastener, the 18- and 20-volt drivers. It comes with 3/8in. X 3-in. lag bolts. It has a LED light to work in the dark and a 2.0Ah battery that can provide power for a long time. 

2. Dewalt Max XR 3-Speed Impact Driver Kit

DeWalt’s 20V MAX XR, with 1,825 inch-pounds of torque and big 4.0Ah batteries, is a contractor-quality tool capable of driving large lag bolts. We appreciated using the simple mechanical switch to click between the three power settings to match the job’s power better.

3. PORTER-CABLE PCCK647LB 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit

Porter-Cable is not a well-renowned brand like Dewalt, Milwaukee, or Makita. But, for an efficient drill, the PCCK647LB cordless impact driver is one of the best choices for you. Top class features and a 3-year warranty are definitely an impact driver you should consider.

4. Makita XDT131 18V   Brushless Cordless Impact Driver Kit

As a lithium-ion battery-powered impact driver, this Makita XDT131 is capable of tackling challenging screw driving applications. It comes with a reasonable amount of torque. The driver comes with a brushless motor which provides 50% more runtime over brushed motor and makes the machine more durable. Makita XDT131 comes with a variable speed setting that goes up to 3,400 RPM, and the highest impact rate is up to 3,600 BPM.

5. Dewalt DCF887B 20V MAX XR Impact Driver

The DCF887B is a popular and highly rated cordless impact driver from Dewalt. The driver comes with three LED lights. With an impact driver, you just need to go into tight spaces, and that’s where the lights will become helpful. Besides, the lights stay lit for at least 20 seconds after you release trigger releases. S, you don’t have to go dark when working in tight spaces just after pulling the trigger off.

How Can You Prevent Screws from Getting Stripped?

Preventing stripped screws is important given how often you use them in the kitchen, bathroom, and other places throughout your home. The good news is that you don’t have to do much to limit the occurrence of stripped screws.

Start by checking if you’re using the right tools. Take a moment to check if your screwdrivers and drills pair correctly with the screws you’re inserting or extracting.

You should also avoid using worn down tools as much as possible. Tools that are in rough shape can only offer suboptimal performance. Their suboptimal performance can cause damage to items they come in contact with such as screws.

Working carefully is also a good idea in general and especially recommended when it comes to screws. When you’re more mindful of what you’re doing and able to concentrate better, you’re less likely to damage the screw heads.

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Use Rubber Bands for Grip

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Wide rubber bands work well for providing the driver bit with enough traction on the stripped screw. Cut the rubber band with scissors, then lay it across the screw head. Place the driver bit on the rubber band and press hard while turning the screw counter-clockwise.

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