How to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole

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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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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.

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.

Step 2: Grab With Drill

If the screw is not completely sunk into your material there’s a good chance you can grab it with an electric drill and easily back it out.

Open the chuck of the drill and place over the head of the screw, then hand tighten to secure the jaws of the chuck over the screw. Set the drill to reverse and gently back the screw out of the material.

This works on just about any type of threaded scre

This works on just about any type of threaded screw or bolt stuck provided there is a portion of the head the chuck can grab onto.

Prevention

This is worth noting since we have gone through cause and effect. Prevention they say is cheaper than the cure and this job is no exception. By taking the necessary steps you can avoid the heartache of stripping a screw head in the first place. The steps to always consider before you even start a job are your materials, are they right for the job and do you thus have the correct, corresponding fixings?

Next, consider the fixing type in relation to the tool you intend to use to fasten it in place with. Since we are more or less limiting this to a screwdriver or a power tool/ drill, ensure that you are using the correct adaptor type for your screw.

These are a few of the most important considerations when starting any job along with the quality of tools and screws, using second-rate or cheap parts will set you off on a path to failure from the beginning so be aware.

Use a Larger Driver Bit

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Switch out the driver bit in your drill for another one designed for a screw with a larger head. The larger driver bit can distribute the pressure across more of the screw head, helping to turn the screw out.

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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Pilot Holes and Material

While on the subject of power tools and hand drills, a major consideration should be first off.

If for example, you are drilling woodscrews into a decking, consider piloting your holes first. Doing so allows room for the screw to enter the material with less resistance along a predetermined path. This allows for smoother handling and less risk of the screw stopping abruptly which will again cause the head to get damaged, since the screw stops but the electric drill will not.

If you are drilling say self-tapping screws into a roofing or corrugated panel, pilot holes may not be necessary unless the screw type lacks the sharp, cutting point, another consideration when you choose the fixings.

For indoor and outdoor use into masonry, you will generally use plastic wall anchors. With these, make sure you have the correct size hole drilled at the correct depth for the plastic anchor to be fixed into, once secured use the correct size screw to attach whatever object you are securing. To be extra safe you can often buy a big bulk box that has the correct screw for anchor type, then all you need is the correct size tool for securing them and you are sorted.

1. Using a manual screwdriver

If you’re having trouble with your screwdriver bit slipping against the screw head try this simple method. Start by using a hammer to tap the screwdriver down, lodging it firmly into the screw head. This should provide the extra grip you need to twist the fastener, especially if it’s made of soft metal. If that doesn’t work, to get a better grip on the screw, cover it with a rubber band or a small piece of duct tape with the adhesive side against the screw head, as this will give extra grip. Press the material into the hole with the screwdriver and try again.

Another option, if your screw has a Phillips head, is to use a flat-head screwdriver that is narrow enough to fit within the Phillips head hole. To pull this off easily try using the rubber band method mentioned above.

Tap the Screwdriver With a Hammer

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Place a manual screwdriver against the stripped screw. Then, with a hammer, lightly tap the handle of the screwdriver. In many cases, this is enough to seat the screwdriver slightly deeper into the stripped screw, providing enough grip for you to turn the screw out.

3. Using a Screw Extractor

For those stubborn screws that just won’t come out then screw extractors are a good choice as they are counter-threaded to how screws are threaded.

Screw extractors come in different sizes, so you’ll need to select the right size to fit into the screw head of your stripped screw. Load the extractor into the check of your drill and tighten the chuck to hold the extractor securely. Make sure you set the drill into reverse. Because the extractor is reverse-threaded this means that with the drill in reverse the extractor bit will drill into the stripped screw and bite into the screw head. Keep drilling in reverse and the extractor will start turning the screw in reverse which will back it out.

Step 6: Leave It?

Can you live with just leaving it? Sometimes screws are just too buried or difficult to get, and not worth the hassle.

Though not ideal, there may be no other way to deal with a stripped screw and you might be able to work around it. If you’re resigned to leaving the screw in situ then maybe you could try and hide the screw with a patch of similar wood.

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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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.

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

7. Weld a Nut to the Screws Head

Photo: shutterstock.com

Photo: shutterstock.com

If you’re experienced with welding and have the necessary equipment on hand—and you really want to remove that pesky stripped screw—here’s a last-ditch effort you can make. Spot-weld a nut to the top of the screw head, wait a sufficient period of time, then remove both screw and nut by means of a socket wrench.

Armed with all these tips, the next time you strip a screw you can rest assured it’s not the end of the world—it’s just another solvable, albeit annoying, problem. No single trick works every time, but once you’re familiar with all of the options at your disposal for how to remove a stripped screw, you’ll gradually learn to recognize which scenarios call for which particular solution.

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