Stripping a screw can happen to just about anybody.
Sometimes the hardware is brittle, or you accidentally give the driver just a little too much torque… whatever the reason, a stripped screw is a pretty common problem, but thankfully, with the right plan of attack, you can still get it out and replace it with something a little less mangled.
There are a number of opinions on the best way to remove a stripped screw. We’ve done some research for you and found the top suggestions from professionals.
Use a pair of locking pliers. If you’re lucky, your screw head will be showing a bit above the material it’s stuck in. If you can grip the head with some locking pliers, you’re home-free. Just grab onto the screw head and turn until it starts to come loose, and then finish the job with your fingers.
You can also try hammering a socket over the screw head and using that to turn it out, but beware of wrecking your socket using this method.
Use a hacksaw, Dremel, or grinder to create a new slot in the top of the screw and use a flathead screwdriver to turn the screw out. This probably doesn’t work on a flat screw if it’s buried in the material, however.
Drill it out. Use a left-handed bit that’s about ¾ of the size of the screw. Drill straight down into the screw slowly, and then reverse out again. You should be able to pull the screw out once the head comes free.
Use a Torx or star bit that’s close to the size of the stripped hole. Hammer it in – being careful not to wreck your bit – and see if you can get it to bite.
In some cases, you can use a thick rubber band to give you a little extra purchase. Put the rubber band between your bit and the stripped screw and push as hard as you can while slowly turning your driver. You can also try duct tape or friction tape in lieu of a rubber brand.
You can also purchase a type of bit called a screw extractor that works in much the same way, but few people will have one of these lying around… and if you did, you wouldn’t be here looking for help, would you?
If you have any suggestions or questions about the methods described here, let us know in the comments.