Fix-It Chick: Remove a stubborn screw
Back in the good old days, it was common practice to coat the threads of a screw with a little beeswax before installing it to facilitate the screw’s removal at a later date.
Then and now, with or without beeswax, screws get stuck, and it often takes ingenuity as well as elbow grease to get them unstuck.
- For applications where the screw is seated into a metal screw hole, soak the area with a high quality penetrating oil, such as PB Blaster. Allow the oil to penetrate for as little as several minutes or as long as 24 hours. Often a second or third application of penetrating oil coupled with an extended waiting time will break the bond between metals and allow for easy removal of the screw.
- Try a bigger screwdriver or a smaller screwdriver. A larger screw driver may grab the edges of the stripped screw, or a smaller screwdriver may seat down into the screw head far enough to lock itself into place.
- Try holding the screwdriver at a slight angle, pressing into the side of the screw head, rather than down into the screw.
- Use a hammer to tap an appropriately sized and relatively sturdy screwdriver deep into the screw head to allow the screwdriver blades to grab the edges of the screw head.
- Use a small cutting blade on a Dremel-type tool to cut into the screw head. Then use a regular, slotted screwdriver to remove the screw.
- If the screw is holding two parts together, use a Dremel-type tool or a hacksaw to cut off the screw head. Remove the top “part” and then use locking pliers to remove the remaining screw shaft.
- Drill an appropriately sized small pilot hole through the screw head and slightly into the screw shaft. Then use a screw extractor bit (often referred to as an “easy out”) to slowly turn the screw out of its hole.
- If all else fails, use an appropriately sized drill bit to drill the screw out. Drilling a machine-thread screw out of its hole will most likely damage the existing threads within the hole, so be prepared to re-tap the hole for a larger size threaded screw once all remnants of the old screw have been removed.