HomeWorkshop and tools4 Methods to Remove a Stripped or Broken Screw

4 Methods to Remove a Stripped or Broken Screw

We all found ourselves at that moment; clumsily groping with a screwdriver trying to remove a screw only to notice that it was damaged, either by your actions when in the rush or because of a previous furry handyman. Even if working with pallet wood implies more nails to remove than screws, their chances that during your pallet project or any woodworking project you'll face a stripped or broken screw.

Removing a screw with a damaged head takes a little elbow grease, but it's fairly simple in the end. We will show you below 4 different methods for removing a damaged screw from the least destructive way to the most destructive one.

The magic of the rubber band

Sometimes all we need to unscrew a damaged screw is a small addition of extra grip. The rubbery surface of a rubber band can help to hold the screwdriver in place and hang any available grip inside the damaged screw.

Any rubber band will work including a piece of bicycle/car tire innertube as long as it allows maximum contact between the damaged screw head and the screwdriver!

Place the elastic rubber band at the end of the screwdriver as shown in the image above, press enough so that the pressure makes the rubber of the elastic stick well on the head of the damaged screw and now turn to unscrew, it should work!

If the screw head is only partially damaged, the rubber strip will help to fill areas where the screw has been damaged and provide contact where it is needed.

Grab the damaged screw with your powered screwdriver

If the screw is blocked or if its head is too damaged to use the rubber band and the screw is sufficiently out of its support, the solution consists in using a powered screwdriver. This solution can be even easier and faster than the rubber band method because all the work will be done by your electrical screwdriver! :)

As with the conventional use of a powered screwdriver or drill, open the chuck of the screwdriver and insert the damaged screw head into it. Hand tightens tightly to secure the jaws of the chuck over the screw head. Put the machine to the unscrewing position (reverse position) and start without going too fast because the screw head could then rotate in the chuck. Normally the screw should quietly come out!

In case of lack of iron grip (chuck/screw head), you can also use the trick of the rubber band to increase the friction grip between the jaws of the chuck and the screw head.

The screw extractor

Not very well known, there is a formidable tool because merciless, the screw extractor! A little bit like Captain Flam, we use this tool when there is no more hope...

The principle of the screw extractor is simple but ingenious: just like with the rubber band method, the principle is to "hang" the screw head as if it were in perfect condition and then unscrew the whole thing. Well, the screw extractor has an inverted thread allowing it to "screw" into the head as it turns in the direction of unscrewing the screw. This tool is usually available in different sizes to suit different screw head sizes. Once you've found the correct screw extractor size, you can use it as a normal tool on a powered screwdriver as shown below.

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Creating a slot

This solution is a little bit more destructive and requires a rotary tool to cut a single notch on the head of the damaged screw to transform it into a "new" flathead screw. Although it is possible to use a hacksaw for the task, it is more practical and efficient to use a rotary tool with a cutting disc.

All you have to do now is use a flat screwdriver or a slotted screw to remove the damaged screw from its support.

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Sure there are other inventive methods to remove a damaged screw, why not share your findings by writing a comment below? After you removed those damaged screws, maybe your asking yourself which screws to use for your woodworking projects?

Bio: Engineer, Co-founding partner of 1001Pallets. I earned my Engineer degree in Aeronautics & spatial t... read more

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Wally Carlson
Wally Carlson

Suggestions 1 and 3 are useful, but when screw head is up like in 2 and 4 putting a pair of channel locks or vise grips on the head and turning is easier.


This is awesome, thanks! Now what about nails? lol.

Marcus Bonksta

Rubber band inside works☝️


Great information, well presented.

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