Introduction

Stripped screws are a nightmare to any repair enthusiast. Try as you might, some screws just do not want to come out. Frustration takes over and before you know it, that once "+" shape has turned into a "O". Never fear; we've got your back. This guide will walk you through how to use a rotary tool to remove a stripped screw by cutting a small slit in the screw head, allowing you to remove the screw with a flathead screwdriver.

Techniques:

  1. Different Screwdriver
  2. Rubber Band
  3. Screw Extracting Pliers
  4. Superglue
  5. Rotary Tool

Always wear safety goggles when using a rotary tool to prevent injury from debris or sparks.

Video Overview

Your screw is stripped, and your screwdriver is no longer sufficient. Before busting out the heavy hitters, try the following:
  • Your screw is stripped, and your screwdriver is no longer sufficient. Before busting out the heavy hitters, try the following:

    • Use different screwdrivers. First try slightly smaller or larger head sizes, then a flat head screwdriver, to see if you can get it to catch on some part of the stripped screw.

      • If the bit doesn't catch the screw instantly, do not continue. Otherwise, you run the risk of further stripping the screw.

  • If either of these techniques are fruitful, congrats! Your screw is free.

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A rubber band can give you the extra grip you need. Stretch a rubber band over the stripped screw. Insert a properly-sized screwdriver, and give it a turn.
  • A rubber band can give you the extra grip you need.

  • Stretch a rubber band over the stripped screw.

  • Insert a properly-sized screwdriver, and give it a turn.

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  • If the screw head is accessible, try a pair of screw extracting pliers. If you can get a good grip, turn the pliers and the screw should turn along with it!

  • Once the screw is loosened a bit, you can probably back it out the rest of the way using a screwdriver.

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Still stuck? Try adding a dab of superglue to the top of the screw. Set your driver into the screw head, and allow the glue to dry. Using a firm grip and downward pressure, give the driver a twist to remove the screw.
  • Still stuck? Try adding a dab of superglue to the top of the screw.

  • Set your driver into the screw head, and allow the glue to dry.

  • Using a firm grip and downward pressure, give the driver a twist to remove the screw.

  • Don't forget to clean the remains of the glue from the tip of your driver.

You might want to mention to spend the extra buck and get the gel superglue. It's way easier to control...

lkmemphis - Reply

If you were unable to remove the screw with screwdrivers, pliers, a rubber band, or super glue, then a rotary tool should do the trick.
  • If you were unable to remove the screw with screwdrivers, pliers, a rubber band, or super glue, then a rotary tool should do the trick.

  • Attach a thin cutting disk to your rotary tool. Before you cut anything, make sure the disk is secured well.

  • Make sure you wear protective goggles anytime you use a rotary tool to prevent injuries from flying debris and sparks.

Mask the area so the small metal particles don't create a short. Even still use a few blasts of can'ed air to blow any junk away.

Dan - Reply

In this step, you will use the rotary tool to make a thin cut in the stripped screw that enables you to use a flathead screwdriver to remove the screw. We recommend using a low power setting (we used 2 out of 6) to prevent damaging the rest of the device or the screw.
  • In this step, you will use the rotary tool to make a thin cut in the stripped screw that enables you to use a flathead screwdriver to remove the screw.

  • We recommend using a low power setting (we used 2 out of 6) to prevent damaging the rest of the device or the screw.

  • You want the cut to be deep enough that you can fit a flathead screwdriver into it, but thin enough that the screwdriver has something to grip.

  • Make a single thin cut into the head of the stripped screw.

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Use a flathead screwdriver to remove the screw from the device.
  • Use a flathead screwdriver to remove the screw from the device.

    • The size of the driver will depend on the size of the screw, but use the largest size that will fit in your cut.

  • If you cannot fit a screwdriver into the cut, use the rotary tool to make the cut larger. Make only small cuts; if you cut off too much of the screw, a screwdriver will not catch and you will not be able to twist the screw.

  • Wear eye protection and give your device a few good blasts of compressed air before reassembling it. The rotary tool can scatter loose metal shavings around the device, creating the potential for an electrical short if not blown clear.

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Conclusion

Check out the video in the intro for some additional tips on dealing with stripped screws.

83 other people completed this guide.

Jake Devincenzi

Member since: 04/18/2011

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84 Guides authored

32 Comments

This isn't helpful. If you can't afford a decent screwdriver in the first place chances are you won't have a rotary tool handy? maybe think of something a bit more practical.

Angel - Reply

OR many you're repairing something with a screw that's already been stripped?

Think outside the box, and don't be so negative.

amuronakamoto -

Uh, there are a number of options here, the rotary tool is given as the last resort.

Marama -

I usually use the soldering iron, resting on the screw head dilation of the materials or any glue on the thread, but if the damage the screw head is large only with the idea of ​​same rotary tool.

Cleyton - Reply

"To reassemble your device, follow these instructions in reverse order."

Yeah, that makes perfect sense... If you put the saw in reverse it glues all the buts of iron back onto the screw :-)

But other than that, this could be useful in some situations. Be careful,of the iron filings on your electronics!

koesper - Reply

Haha, good catch! We've fixed the conclusion. Apologies to all who tried so very hard to follow these instructions in reverse.

Jeff Suovanen -

You could also try Bit-Biter. The unique formula multiplies friction between a slipping driver and fastener head, creating enhanced gripping power during installation and removal processes. Stripped, rusted, or damaged fasteners and drivers become workable again! http://bit.ly/19PJn3w

Tectorius Rep - Reply

The link has changed if you wanted to try Bit-Biter http://bit.ly/1nMo35w we updated our website and the previous link does not work. www.tectorius.com

Jeanne -

There's always the ultimate tool if it won't go out, the drill.

Of course you'll have to make new threads if you drill out a screw. However, as a "weapon of last resort", the drill always works.

Branko Dodig - Reply

Thank you for this guide. The Vampliers, however, completely removed the head of my T6 screw. There are two of them holding the display to the top case of my 15'' Macbook Pro. I am on one of the last steps in the Top Case replacement guide.

Can I use a drill if my screw has virtually no head?

Thanks!

A Mac User - Reply

Using the rotary tool will spray metal filings all over the electronic components creating a short. Bad idea.

Brick dal - Reply

I agree, to a point.

But listing it as a last resort, for a device that is already broken and cannot be repaired until the stripped screw is removed, does fit this article. Metal shavings aren't making something that is already unusable worse off. Your observation that there are risks is probably something the article should mention though as part of the explanation for why this was listed last.

toddgardiner -

Thanks for mentioning this! We added a cautionary note to the last step, reminding readers to blow out the device with compressed air before reassembly. That should help reduce the risk from loose metal shavings.

Jeff Suovanen -

This didn't help at all. In fact rubber band and glue made it worse. I don't want to use a drill. Not when the screw is so tiny. It can create more damage to the system

Semeki Izuio - Reply

deberían ponerle un traductor de idioma

Jenny Diaz - Reply

para mas facilidad a los que no sabemos hablar ingles

Jenny Diaz - Reply

google pajina trasnslacion mi amigo

WARD KNIGHT -

The rubber band trick worked like a charm for me! I couldn't remove a sunken stripped and rounded out philips head from my tail light to change the bulb. I thought I was going to have to go to a shop to get the bulb changed. I tried the rubber band idea with no real expectation of it working and surprisingly it did.

Give it a try and it might just work for you too!

absoluteze - Reply

Came up with a better solution for the first or second try. Personally, I would do this first. The Story: Had a Canon G16 with a stripped screw head. Severely rounded phillips, appeared that wrong size driver was used. I noticed after a bit of inspection that my good screw driver was bottoming out, preventing any contact with any remaining slot. There wasn't much remaining slot at all. I filled off the point of my screw driver just a small amount but that let me "find" the remaining phillips head slots and with some strong pressure was able to turn the screw out. Worked great.

Stihl Working - Reply

thanks for taking time to post this helpful information!!! thats very nice of you and i appreciate it very much. even if it ends up not working in my situation , which im sure one of these steps will

WARD KNIGHT - Reply

My screwhead is not stripped, the Screw just spins. What do I do to get it out, can't grab head either

LuAnne Biskup - Reply

See if you can slide a thin knife blade under the screw head and then carefully try to unscrew the screw (don't apply do much downward pressure here), as you turn the screw lift the knife edge easing out the screw until you can grab it.

Dan -

Hand operated micro drill, using a bit which is the same size as the hole the screw goes through. Just drill until the head of the screw pops off, clean up filings with a magnet. Once you've removed the part you can use pliers to remove the headless screw.

Tim Lockwood - Reply

I think you're talking about a jewelers hand drill (or pin vise) like this one: Jewelers Drill

Dan -

This seems to be all regarding electronics. I have two screws that are stripped that hold small brackets on a wall. Previous owner of my home seemed to strip many screws. These screws are phillips and to top it off are not screwed in straight. I am remodeling my kitchen by myself and i am trying to repair all the holes in the wallboard. I would guess grabbing onto them with pliers might be the best idea. Any thoughts?

Deborah

Deborah - Reply

Pliers should work! That's probably what I'd do. If you have trouble, there are screw extracting pliers made just for this purpose.

Jeff Suovanen -

what if the screw is stripped and inside a whole like a Nintendo 3ds and cant cut it and glue or rubber band didn't work??

victor - Reply

exactly the problem i have. I even sent it to Nintendo, they sent it back and said Nope.

joey c -

See Tim Lockwood's comment above. When all else fails, a drill will get the job done. It can be a bit messy, so I usually use it as a last resort.

Jeff Suovanen -

See the problem is that I'm like poor. And when I say poor I mean broke. I don't have any fancy tools (rotary driver? nope!) and I really just want to take out the battery of my phone before I fix the screen since I'm waaaaayyy too cheap to buy a new phone and I don't want to die. Is there a cheap effective way to remove it (I tried all of the above except super glue, I don't have that either and won't be able to get any) I really don't care if the screw is destroyed since I have a second one anyways. ( I also don't own a drill)

Help?

Niels de boer - Reply

Thanks for this guide. I didn't have a rubber band so I used some kitchen paper, and it worked. I guess anything that's thin, soft and have a descent amount of friction will work.

Zihan Shu (apocalypse shu) - Reply

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Bo Skeppstedt

Bo Skeppstedt - Reply

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