Had to stop your DIY project abruptly because you have to unscrew a screw that has a missing head? Often when we struggle to remove a screw with a screwdriver or power tool, we notice that it has a stripped head or no head. Though removing a screw does take some effort, it is not very difficult to do so.
The discussed methods have different levels of difficulty. You have to examine how deep the screw is and what material it is in. Then you can judge which method you should use.
It is important that you wear appropriate protection when you do this. This includes goggles, strong boots, and gloves. A small piece of metal can fly around and this can be dangerous.
Start by using a stud finder to make sure that there are no electrical lines or plumbing pipes nearby. This makes sure that you don’t damage any utilities in your house. A leaking water pipe can cause a lot of damage so it is better to avoid this by checking if there is none nearby. This only takes a few minutes but can save you a lot of time later on.
Now that we are prepared, we can start to remove the screw.
Method #1: Elastic band
This is a method where you use only a rubber band. An elastic band is sometimes enough to give the grip needed to remove a stubborn stripped screw.
A wide rubber band would be the best for this work. This is because you get a bigger contact area between the driver bit and the stripped screw head. You have to ensure that the elastic band is not slacking and is tight.
First, you have to put the rubber band on the driver bit and pull it tightly. Next, you have to put the driver bit inside the stripped screw head. Then, you have to gently turn the screw to make it lose. If the screw’s head is not gone, the rubber band works as a filler for the areas where the screw is stripped. In addition to that, the elastic band also provides the required friction and helps the screw to be removed.
Method #2: Get a special tool
With the help of a center punch, make a deep hole in the middle of the screw shaft. This will replace the head of the screw. You can also tap a thin nail and see if that works.
Starting with a tiny drill bit, begin drilling a hole into the shaft. After you are done with that, pick up the next drill bit size and continue drilling with it. This time you will make a little bigger opening. The moment you think an easy-out tool will go inside it, stop drilling.
Now we can use the drill bit that fits with the new screw head. In this step, you need to be gentle with the tool. Otherwise, the easy tool might break. Go turn the tool until the screw shaft comes off. An easy tool is designed in a manner that it can grasp the screw shaft’s inside. As you turn the handle, the screw shaft will also rotate.
This is quite similar to removing a screw as you would otherwise do.
This tool is more expensive but if you have to deal with a lot of stripped screw heads, it is a perfect way to deal with it without losing too much time.
There is also a spring-loaded tool that you can use next to the head of the screw. This pushes the screw head around and makes it come out. This is demonstrated in the video above.
Method #3: Use a vice grip
A vice grip is a common tool. You can use it to hold the screw. Simply adjust the width of the head of the vice grip and apply it over the head of the screw. Once you have a hold of the screw, you can start to turn it around to remove it. Be careful that you don’t bend the shaft of the screw as this can make it harder to remove it.
This is the best method if the head of the screw sticks out. It takes some work to turn it around and get the screw out but it is an approach that often works. Most DIY’ers already have this tool and it is quite easy to do.
Method #4: Hole saw drill bit
The third method causes more damage and only works with wood. It can make it easier to remove a screw if a plug has been used.
You take out a hole saw drill bit. This is then used to cut a round hole in the wood. This wooden piece should come out of it and make it easier to remove the screw. We can then use some wood to place the round wooden piece that we have removed back in place.
The last step is sanding the rough edges of the wood to make it smooth. For this, you either use high-grit sandpaper or a sanding block. Then take a damp cloth and clear the wood particles off. Once the wood dries up, consider painting to give it an improved look.
For metal you can use an angle grinder but this can cause more damage.
This approach is not ideal as it causes more damage but can work in a shed or locations that are not that visible.
You can also use a normal drill and make holes next to the screw to get it out. This causes more damage though and you will have to repair the drywall.
Method #5: Sand it down
You can use a special tool to sand the metal of the screw away. This can cause more damage to your wall so you might have to use some spackle or paint. The screw won’t be removed but it shouldn’t be visible anymore when you do this. In most instances this is sufficient.
You have to be careful when you do this as small pieces of metal can fly around. Wear protective gear so that you don’t get a piece near you.
We have listed 3 different ways to remove a screw with no head or stripped head. You will be successfully able to remove a screw with any one of these. In total, there are about five to six different ways in which this job can be done. You can use a manual screwdriver, impact driver, screw extractor, pliers or vice-grips, left-handed drill bits, or a rotary tool.
But in the case that nothing seems to be working in getting that screw out, how about letting it be? Try hiding the screw with maybe a matching wooden patch. It might not be worth it to damage your wall by removing the screw.
It is also important that you use screws that are made out of the best materials. Cheaper screws tend to break more easily as cheaper metals have been used to make them.