When you can't extract a nail, often the easiest thing to do is pound that sucker deeper into the wood, thus forgetting about it forever. But a screw is stuck in limbo: too far out to be covered over with wood filler, too far in to extract with a wrench, such as a Vise-Grip. And by the way, the wrench method is more difficult than it seems because the wrench slips on the screw head.
You can still get it out, but you need something called a screw extractor or an easy out. They are not expensive, though anything is more expensive than you'd like to spend for this simple task. They don't seem like they should work, but they do. Let's look at a few options.
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Alden's Grab it #2 is a single extractor that works on screws from No. 8 to No. 10 and, they claim, "up to 4 in. in length," though we find this wishful thinking. It's difficult to remove 4-inch screws the conventional way, much less using a screw extractor. This runs about $7 and might just work.
If you think you've got a lot of stripped screws in your future, you can buy Grab it multi-piece packs: 2, 3, and 4 extractors. The four-piece version is called Grabit-Pro 4 Piece Kit.
The real value of Grabit is its immediacy. You can find it at Lowe's or Home Depot, at Ace Hardware, and at countless other brick-and-mortar locations. Kudos, too, to whoever came up with the name: Grab it, grab a bit. Got it? The other nice thing is that you can buy them one at a time, rather than being forced to buy incredibly small or large extractors that you may never use.
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SpeedOut is a set of four extractors handles screws from No. 4 up to No. 24. SpeedOut is a bit more honest about screw length capability, saying that screws over 2 inches long "may compromise" the tool.
SpeedOut Is GrabIt
Guess what? SpeedOut is just a re-branded version of Grabit. The box, website, and all promotional materials may say "SpeedOut," but the Grabit name is still on the extractors. So, SpeedOut is not just identical to Grabit-Pro 4 Piece Kit (Product #8440P), but it is the Grabit Pro 4.
We find that the SpeedOut is cheaper. Grab it 8440 is about $25, whereas SpeedOut is about $15.
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Of Harbor Freight's 12 piece screw extractor kit, half of the items are burnishers—the other half devoted to reverse drill bits ranging from 5/64" to 3/8". The idea is to burnish with the first set, then switch to the drill bits to pull the screw.
This set runs about $9. Harbor Freight hardly blinks an eye for returns. If the extractors don't satisfy you within 90 days, you can return or replace them.