We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How can I Unscrew a Stripped Screw?

Michael Pollick
By
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At HomeQuestionsAnswered, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

One of the most frustrating problems during a repair job or assembly project occurs whenever the head of a screw becomes too worn or too damaged to accept a screwdriver. This type of damage is known as a stripped screw, and it usually means the screw cannot be driven in or twisted out of the project. The slot on the top of the screw head has become hopelessly bent, making it nearly impossible for a standard screwdriver to extract or tighten it. Fortunately, there are several workable solutions to the problem of removing a stripped screw.

One way to unscrew a stripped screw is to use a hammer to gently tap a different screwdriver into the damaged screw head. The new screwdriver may get enough grip to back the screw out if the user applies enough downward force and a counterclockwise twist. A power tool such as a drill does not offer any mechanical advantage, so it may be best to stick with manual tools. If the tapped-in screwdriver does not work with a Philips or cross-threaded screw, a small hole can be bored through the center of the screw head to create a deeper slot for a screwdriver.

If the screw has a flat slot, a rotary tool fitted with a metal cutting saw blade could be used to create a new slot. The stripped screw should then be easily removed with a standard flat screwdriver. The screwdriver should be held in the new slot with significant downward pressure and slowly twisted in a counterclockwise direction until it is fully removed. Even a stripped screw with a Philips or cross-threaded screw head can be removed using this method.

Sometimes there is enough of the main screw exposed to use clamping devices such as vice grips, pliers or adjustable wrenches. The clamping tool should be tightened around the damaged screw head or exposed screw shaft and turned in a counterclockwise direction until it is fully removed. This method is not always reliable, since the clamping tool may not be able to grip enough of the screw to provide sufficient torque or twisting power. The tool may simply spin in place around the shaft, or the screw could snap under pressure.

There are commercial products available which are designed specifically to unscrew stripped screws. One such product is a special drill bit with a reamer on one end and a screw remover on the other. In this case, a power tool such as a cordless drill can and should be used. The reamer bit drills out a small conical hole in the damaged screw head, while the screw removing bit digs into the sides of that hole and pulls the screw out.

A stripped screw can sometimes be hammered into the project forcibly, although there is a considerable risk of permanent damage and a weakened juncture. The entire screw could be drilled out completely with a metal-cutting drill bit on a power tool, but other options should be considered first. Sometimes a welder can attach a new screw head to a stripped screw, allowing it to be pulled out with a standard screwdriver later. It may also be possible to address a stripped screw from the opposite end if it has become exposed.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to HomeQuestionsAnswered, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Discussion Comments

By ArtDefender — On Jul 13, 2010

@GrapeStomper – As the article explains, there is no single "best" way to remove a stripped screw. The method you use will vary depending on the situation. If you purchase one of the products specifically designed for the task, chances are it will be effective most of the time; otherwise, I suggest you just experiment.

By GrapeStomper — On Jul 13, 2010

This is wonderful and helpful advice, and I've had to use these techniques a lot more than I'd like to admit. Can anyone recommend which method is most efficient and effective?

Michael Pollick

Michael Pollick

As a frequent contributor to HomeQuestionsAnswered, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a...
Read more
HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.