Skip to Content

Mastering Stuck Screw Removal: Effective Techniques and Tips

Stuck Screw Removal, Stripped screws, nuts, bolts, and other fasteners can seem hopeless. Regardless of the efforts, they don’t want to budge. That is when your patience runs out, and in no time, you realize the crosshead shape has become a massive “O.”

How, then, will you remove the stuck screws? You can implore several techniques, like using various tools or materials. However, it is essential to note that no single method applies to all screws. Therefore, you need to be patient. If one trick doesn’t work, don’t give up. Just go ahead and try another option.

How To Unscrew Something Really Tight

Stuck Screw Removal

Are you looking to deal with a stuck fastener? This specific article addresses different ways you can deal with the issue. Read on

Method 1: Different Tools

Change Screwdrivers

Shifting of screwdrivers will help to unscrew the stripped fastener. First, try applying pressure downward using a flat-head screwdriver and gradually make an attempt to remove the screw. The goal is to lift the screw by 1/8-inch to enable you to shift over to removing the screw using pliers.


One of the most reliable ways to take out a stuck screw is with the pliers. Ensure you can hold the screw’s head or outer rim. Start extracting the screw using these quick steps:

  • Hold the pliers sideways for a firm grip
  • Modify the pliers to make their jaws a little smaller compared to that of the screw head.
  • Secure the screw head within the opening of the fastening pliers.
  • Rotate the screw counter-clockwise
  • Make 2-3 complete rotations
  • Unclamp the pliers
  • Re-clamp the pliers frontward to take out the stripped screw

Driver Bit

Shift to a more significant driver bit which can dispense the pressure throughout the screw head, aiding in budging the stubborn screw.

Method 2: Screw Extractor

Drill a pilot hole in the head

At the head center, make a 1/8-inch and enlarge it to 1/16-inch by increasing the drill bit size until you reach the screw extractor’s diameter. However, take note of your screw extractor’s specific depth to avoid making the hole deeper than required.

Into the hole, insert the extractor into the made hole, then lightly tap stuck screw removal with a hammer ensuring its threads hold the screw sides before continuing. Find a T handle (check in your extractor kit) and connect it to the extractor’s top.

To unscrew the stripped bolt, turn the extractor counter-clockwise while keeping stuck screw removal straight. Ensure you don’t apply any lateral pressure on the extract to prevent it from bending. Keep turning the screw until it loosens. Finally, pull up the extractor to lift the screw to the surface and take it out with pliers.

Method 3: Advancing the Screwdriver’s Grasp through Non-traditional Items

Using Rubber Band

You can improve the screwdriver’s traction by inserting a wide rubber band between the screwdriver and the stripped screw head.

With scissors, cut the rubber band. 

Lay the rubber band flat against the screw’s head and screw it within the screw using your free hand

Insert your screwdriver and gently gradually turn the screwdriver and make an effort to take out the screw.

Using Steel Wool

Another alternative to a rubber band is steel wool. Put the steel wool on top of the screw head. Insert your screwdriver securing into the hole as you rotate it gradually and try to take out the screw.

Lubricant Application

You can spray a rust penetrant on the screw head and let it sit for 15 minutes, then reapply. Tap the stuck head 5-6 times with a hammer. Using your screwdriver, try and pull out the screw.

You can try applying a valve grinding substance if the rust penetrant fails. The grit in it enables the screwdriver to grasp the head. Thus, try removing the screw.

How to remove a Screw without a Head?

Having to deal with a screw with no head or the head being broken can pose a real challenge as there is no place to grip your pliers or screw extractor drill into. Based on the application, you may put a new one ¼ inch far from the last screw.

In other scenarios, you must remove the broken screw before inserting a new one. Nevertheless, the extraction solution depends on the location of the screw. Look at these circumstances:

When the screw stem is still stabbing, clamp onto it and turn slowly counter-clockwise if there is enough shank penetrating out.

When the screw is at a similar level with the surface– Make a groove with a knife blade until you create enough room to grasp with the pliers and pull it up. You can patch the space with a wooden dowel or use a wood plug if you want to match. After that, you can screw your new screw into the patch.

Leaving the screw in situ is the best option when the shank is below the surface. Stuck Screw Removal must remove it, you require a hollow screw extractor bit. Drill a hole centering it on the stuck screw. 

With a reversed drill, insert into the cutout and drill around the stem to pull out the wood. Finally, remove the screw using needle-nose pliers and cover the hole with a wooden dowel.

What Causes Stripped Screws?

Stuck Screw Removal

The famous question among many people is, “how can I remove a stuck screw? But what triggers the screws to become stuck? Aside from normal wear and tear, rust or corrosion, screws can also get stripped due to:

  • Screw design- bolt heads come in various designs like hexagons, cruciform, etc. Some of the designs strip faster because of the gap between the tool and the bolt head. As a result, uneven force application leads to stripping
  • Too much torque – applying or inserting a screwdriver inappropriately
  • The wrong size- each screw, bolt, or nut has its unique size. Therefore, using a screw that is too small or too large for the screw causes stuck screws.
  • Wrong Tools- Using the wrong type of screw for the screw head. Some drivers, like slotted drives, have a high chance of stripping.
  • Working hurriedly without paying much attention

To unscrew something stuck can be a massive hassle; however, there are multiple methods you can use to budge that stubborn screw. We just shared a few most common methods. Remember to exercise patience, not give up and try the various solutions but be cautious.