A stripped screw is one whose head indents are completely bored-out. The drill's driver bit or your manual screwdriver has nothing left to grip onto.
To remove the screw, few gadgets work better than an inexpensive screw extractor bit. But what if you don't happen to have an extractor bit on hand? Fortunately, you have a generous number of options for removing that stripped screw. All of these methods use basic tools or materials that you may already have on hand around the house or shop—drill bits, pliers, steel wool, and even abrasive powder or rubber bands.
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Pull Out the Screw With Pliers
If you can grab onto the head of the screw with pliers, this is usually the most reliable method of removing a stripped screw. Locking pliers are especially helpful when using this method. Even if you can only barely grab the outer rim of the screw head, this is enough purchase needed to begin turning out the screw.
If you're working with wood and you're having trouble getting a grip on the screw head, try grooving out a couple of shallow indentations next to the screw head.
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Switch to a Manual Screwdriver
If you've been trying to remove the stripped screw with your drill, often switching to a manual screwdriver for the same screw type is enough to extract the screw. A manual screwdriver gives you more control over the torque than with a drill—which can sometimes run away from you.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Tap the Screwdriver With a Hammer
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.
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Use an Abrasive Powder
Similar to the steel wool method, the more friction you can apply to the head of the screw, the better. You can sprinkle a small amount of abrasive cleaning powder or fine sand to the surface of the stripped screw, then apply the drill driver-bit to the screw and try to turn it out. In many cases, the powder or sand is enough to prevent the bit from slipping on the screw.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Drill Into the Screw
This method is much like using a screw extractor tool—except you only need to have a drill and a set of drill bits suitable for drilling into metal. Choose a bit that is smaller than the screw head. Place it in the center of the screw head and drill slowly to form a hole about 1/8- to 1/16-inch deep. Remove the drill bit from the drill and switch back to your driver bit. Often, the hole helps your driver bit sink just far enough into the screw so that it can grip better.
If you drill too deep, you risk breaking the screw or snapping off the drill bit in the screw.
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