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TM has covered all manner of stripped-screw removal before (e.g., screw extractor sets, screw pliers, EZ Grip Friction Drops — or the home-brew alternatives: spit and grinder dust, or spit and Comet Cleanser), but I’ve never seen this extractorless approach using a rubber band, as described in Apartment Therapy via Lifehacker. The concept is basically the same as friction drops: adding something to increase the grip, usually in combination with a slightly larger bit size.

Where do you think this approach ranks in the stripped-screw-removal methods? What about tools like the Alden Grabit? Do you have tried-and-true techniques, or do you just jump to the last resort, as Apartment Therapy also notes, the needle-nosed Vise Grips?

How To Remove a Stripped Screw Without an Extractor [Apartment Therapy]
Alden Grabit Via Amazon [What’s This?]

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19 Responses to How-To: Remove Stripped Screw Sans Extractor

  1. utako o says:

    looks interesting but instead of needle nose grips, true geeks would reach into the bag and pull one of these out.


  2. jeff says:

    Rubber bands are more valuable than a cammed out screw. I’m throwing the screw away anyway so have no problem clamping on the vise grips and just spinning it out.

  3. Bruce says:

    Am I the only one who learned to take the bit out of my drill, tighten the chuck down on the screw head, then put the drill in reverse?

  4. fred says:

    I believe that these pliers sold by Lee Valley are probably the Engineer Inc. brand PZ-55’s from Futaba Tool Mfg. LTD in Japan.
    What I’ve found works better is a small curved jaw vise-grips with a v-notch ground into the top and bottom jaws parallel to the long axis of the pliers.

    Left Hand cobalt drills also work remarkably well in many cases

  5. Chris says:

    I’ll have to give it a try. However, if the screw is really stripped and the head is recessed so you can’t grip it AND the extractors don’t even work, I’ve learned to use my Dremel with a cutting wheel and make a slot for my flat-head screwdriver to finish off the job. I’ve been surprised by how many people have never heard of this method.


  6. Alex M. says:

    Slotting out a screw is great – long live the dremel!

    My trick – If there’s still a bit of screw face to work with, I’ve used superglue to get over that friction hump before. Couple drops in the screw, lick the bit (water speeds superglue curing), hold it steady in there until it sets up, then go to town. You can snap the screw/bit assembly apart and usually the superglue stays with the screw. I have an entire mustard jar full of craptacular #2 philips bits, though, so if those are a precious commodity in your garage, this may not be for you.

  7. JW says:

    Need to just outlaw slot head and phillips altogether. Hate those screws! At the very least can they just use robertson.

  8. Alex M. says:

    The world would be indeed be better if we all used robertson or torx.

  9. Jim says:

    I regularly used Robertson. But in decorative applications, they are ugly. I would rather use a slotted or phillips. Torx are tolerable.

    Robertson and Torx are not the best choice for softer fastener materials, (aluminum, brass) or smaller heads (trim) because they will accept more torque which increases the likelihood of breaking off the head. This increase torque also often causes the fastener to strip within the material. This is especially common when power driving into softer materials without the use of a clutch.

  10. David Bryan says:

    Those fancy little Lee Valley pliers are just glorified gas pliers, aren’t they? That Screw-grab stuff, isn’t that valve-grinding compound? I use left-handed drill bits sometimes. But the other day we were taking a door off and a screw was broken on one of the bottom hinges. I’m not much good that close to the ground, either seeing or doing, so my baby was wrestling with it but not having much luck. I heated a nail red-hot on the stove, held it on the broken-off screw for a while, and went to turning on that screw with my Mighty Plierench. I even used a pair of channellocks to mash the handles, and that screw just didn’t want to turn out. I figured a little extractive force might help, so I got a prybar under the plierench nose to put some pressure on it while I turned it, and that’s when I found out I’d been trying to unscrew a broken-off nail.
    My neighbor tells me if you need readers that bad, you need real glasses.

  11. Cameron Watt says:

    Damn you, David Bryan, you beat me to the draw in mentioning valve lapping compound! How can I let everybody know how clever I am if you say it first?

    I’ve never done it with screws, but for broken bolts or studs, I’ve welded a nut on the end to remove it.

  12. Mike lee says:

    If you are a true toolmonger, you will have numerous screw extractors like me. Also, I can’t remember the last time I used them. Maybe it’s because I used good screws and bits.

  13. Toolhearty says:

    Mike lee Says:
    …I can’t remember the last time I used them. Maybe it’s because I used good screws and bits.

    Same here, but there are those times when you need to work on something that someone before you has already had their way with.

  14. Michael says:

    I too have used a Dremel to cut a deeper slot in order to extract a stubborn screw.

    I have not tried the rubberband===might be interesting to try it to DRIVE stubborn screws so they dont get stripped in the first place.

  15. rob says:

    funny I have a set of the alden grabits they are sold here by Canadian tire as a mastercraft grabit but there is trade mark info on the package linking them to alden

    they work pretty good also if you have to remove a bunch of screws that someone used every bit they own to drive IE some philps some robertsons some flat some what ever you can get most of them out with just the drill side of the grabit and then you don’t have to change bits every 10 seconds

  16. larry says:

    EZ Grip Friction Drops beats them all in my book. If it’s good enough for the Blue Angels it’s good enough for me

  17. Mike says:

    I’m a little late to the party, but won’t that that stop me 🙂
    Per Chris’ reply, I use the dremel to cut a slot in the screw head, then -the secret sauce! I whip out my trusty impact driver (g-d bless the inventor) and use the right size bit (usually a big one by the time is head is all chewed up).

    Another really cool trick I learned watching a electrician back-in-the-day (I’ve since had to rewire most of the $500. job he did, so I basically I paid $500 for this trick 🙁 is to use a *sharp* screwdriver as a chisel -and with a hammer, drive the edge of the screw head (oh yeah this trick doesn’t work on countersunk screws) to “cam out” the screw – pretty cool when it does work.

    BTW, since I’ve owned an impact driver, I (almost) never have stripped screw heads, and when I do, it’s almost always because I’m being bad, e.g. overdriving screws into oak without wax, etc.

  18. Richard says:

    Ideas on how to removed a countersunk Phillips showing Bondo in the slots? Taking the astrical off a patio door so heat’s not a great option.

    • Pluto says:

      Richard, you could use a pick to get the bondo out. Alternatively, use a Dremel with a cut off wheel to re-slot the screw.

      BTW, this blog hasn’t had a new post in over a year.

      Amazingly enough though, it seems like there’s a new person necroposting on a several-year old article here every day.

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