6 tips to remove past screws

Screws are very practical and convenient fasteners to use, as long as they are in good condition. When the head of those screws becomes stripped or deteriorated by improper use, then it is necessary to resort to some tricks to remove them.

Every handyman has had to deal with a screw with a past head or past the thread in his work. It doesn’t matter if you use the best screws on the market, the most advanced and efficient screwdrivers or if you take the utmost care during the screwing process. With the passage of time and the continuous tightening and loosening of the screw, it ends up losing its head and becoming a problem.

Fortunately, all is not lost. There are some little tricks and tools that we can use to remove a screw with a worn head. However, we are talking about extreme solutions and that we should only execute when we have no other choice, since these solutions serve to eliminate the problem but can also damage the materials on which the screw is located. 

1. Use the drill spindle

The first advice we can give you to proceed is to take your drill, if it is a modern type, and try to catch the last head with the chuck. A somewhat complicated process, since if the screw is deeply embedded in the wood or in the base, you may not have the necessary distance to proceed. 

But in case you can do it, it is the fastest and least destructive solution of all those that we are discussing. In fact, simply catch the head in the drill spindle and put it in reverse or driver mode to remove that screw in just a few seconds.

2. Adding more support

When the head is worn, it is still possible to recover part of it and make it exert the necessary traction to extract the screw. For this we can use different materials, such as an elastic rubber or some putty that hardens. In the case of the rubber, it is enough to place it in the area of ​​the tip so that it “makes dough” inside the passed screw and avoids slippage that prevents the screw from being extracted. 

The same can be done with some component putty, which we will place around the tip of the screwdriver and then insert into the head. Once the putty dries, both the screwdriver and the screw head will be a single element and will be able to move in unison, thus achieving the desired extraction.

3. Build a new head

Continuing with the less aggressive methods, another option that we can implement is to “create” a new head. A process for which we are going to need a saw blade with a smaller size than the original head. The idea is to saw the area of ​​said head deep enough so that it becomes a new notch, in which we will later insert a traditional flat screwdriver.

It is recommended that this cutting process be done manually, in order to control the depth of the new groove. If it is too shallow, then it won’t do any good, while if it is too deep, we run the risk of cutting off the head and making the subsequent unscrewing process difficult.

4. Use a screw extractor

The screw extractor is one of those tools that we are not going to use much throughout our life as a handyman, but when we do use it, it saves us a good amount of time and hassle. This extractor works through a high resistance arm system and a specific head, which is responsible for exerting enormous force on the stuck screw. 

A force that can be very useful when the screw heads wear out, since with this product it is not so much a matter of engagement but of brute force. In fact, some of them are used on the hole created in the screw with a drill, so that a greater penetration into the part and a greater transfer of the extracting force is achieved. Although it is true that this force can damage some materials, if not managed carefully.

5. Have your head cut off

If the screw is still determined not to come out, it is time to recover the saw that we have mentioned before. With this saw we are going to proceed to cut the head of the screw flush with the material on which it is located. The idea is to eliminate the holding capacity of the screw by removing said head, which will allow us to free the pieces that it was holding.

The problem with this method is that it must be precise, in order to damage the surfaces on which we are working as little as possible. We will also have to have some space to maneuver, since if the screw is embedded in the wood or in whatever material, we will not have the physical space to carry out the tasks of removing the screw.

6. Go for it

If you have already tried all the methods that we have mentioned, or at least all those that circumstances allow, and you still cannot remove the screw, then it is time to go all out. At this point, we are going to need a drill, as well as a metal bit of the same size as the stubborn screw. We will apply the drill on the blunt head of the screw and, with caution, we will drill little by little to literally destroy the screw and thus be able to separate the different elements that it holds.

As you can imagine, this method has all sorts of drawbacks: you’ll need commendable accuracy and pulse, you’ll likely damage materials in the process, and you won’t be able to use the hole again when you’re done. But at least you will be able to remove that screw that has been bothering you for so long. It’s something.

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