Tool Tip: Extracting a damaged screw

Posted By on January 5, 2008

A friend of mine asked me for some help in repairing a piece of furniture with a couple of damaged fasteners (Phillips headed wood screws). In talking with him about using a ‘screw/bolt extractor,’ or ‘cutting’ a new slot in the screws (above), I realized this might not be something everyone knows about? Hmm … this might make a good “How to” blog entry?

My first thought was to use a screw/bolt extractor, but generally, on small wood screws, this isn’t the optimum choice in my opinion.

screwextractorUsing an extractor requires a small pilot hole be drilled in the top of a screw, or that the Phillips head opening fit the counterclockwise thread of the extractor (it can be done, but does require the correct sized ‘extractor’ bit).

bit in new screw slotThe other approach, which is the one I generally used on ‘stripped’ straight or Phillips head wood screws, is to cut a deeper ‘clean’ straight screwdriver slot in the head of the screw. If you have a small abrasive disk on the end of a drill or preferably high-speed Dremel type rotary tool it is easy to cut a clean slot. An optional method would be a small metal file or hacksaw. Once the slot is cut, a straight bit screwdriver will improve leverage in easing out the damaged wood screw. Often times it helps to work the screw slightly counter-clockwise and then clockwise to loosen the screw and prevent stripping again or breaking the head off the screw. (particularly if the screw is rusty)

So next time you are faced with a damaged screw head, remember to either put a set of screw extractors and drill bits in your tool bag or cut a clean slot for a straight bit screwdriver to help ease out the fastener.


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