How to remove a stripped screw inside a wooden cavity

While completing home repairs and renovations, you may come across a few stripped screws that will need to be removed. You may become stressed and dejected when you think about how to remove a stripped screw inside a wooden cavity. These can be incredibly frustrating, and seem nearly impossible to remove. Fortunately, there are some DIY options (some of which you may already have laying around your home) that will allow you to remove this screw with ease.

What is a stripped screw?

A stripped screw is a screw which has a damaged head that causes it to be unable to correctly lock into place within a screwdriver or drill. You can see this as the drill head spinning without the screw or bouncing on top when attempting to remove or tighten the screw. Be cautious as further damage can occur to the screw if you attempt to remove it too forcefully or with the incorrect drill bit.

Supplies Needed.

  • Screwdriver (Phillips and Flathead)
  • Drill
  • Drill Bits
  • Rubber Band
  • Rotary Tool

Before continuing, ensure you are using the correct bit as well as bit size. If the screw head is not completely stripped, quite often you can find the correct size, or size slightly up in order to remove the screw without any further trouble. Begin by grabbing your starting bit, and place it within the screw head, twist it with your fingers to see if the bit turns without the screw. If it does, the bit is too small. Get the next size up and repeat this process until you find one that does not turn completely. If you go through all of your bits and are unable to find the correct size, you most likely have a stripped screw.

How to remove a stripped screw inside a wooden cavity:

The first step is to determine how damaged the screw head is. Grab a screwdriver with the correct head (Phillips or Flat) and see if you can angle it in order to remove the screw. From time to time this will allow you to get a start on a stripped screw, if not remove it completely. If you are able to rotate the screw a couple times, you can use another tool to finish the removal.

If your screw head is sticking out of the wood partially, you can utilize a pair of pliers in order to begin the process of removing it. Locking pliers are heavily recommended for the option, however any pliers can complete this job. Using your pliers, firmly grip the screw head and begin turning in a counter-clockwise fashion in order to begin removing the screw. If your pliers slip off or you accidently let go, just reattach and begin spinning again.

There may be a couple DIY options within your home that will help you remove the screw. You can place a wide-banded rubber band between the screw and the screwdriver. This will allow the rubber band to fill the edges of the stripped screw head, and possibly allow you to remove the screw. This can also work with a screwdriver, which will allow you to get at it for more angles and feel if the screw is actually turning. Slowly turn the screw and observe your progress. This option can be paired with pliers and allow you to remove the screw with no damage. If the shaft of the screw is also slightly stuck, some lubricant such as WD-40 may also be helpful. It will allow for the screw to more freely be removed from your wood or drywall.

If you have a rotary tool in your home already, you can utilize this in order to cut a deep groove within your screw head. Be cautious of any items around the screw head, and begin slowly cutting the deep groove. Do not cut completely through the head. Once you are satisfied with your deep groove, a general flathead screwdriver or bit should fit in your screw and allow you to remove the screw easily.

If these methods fail, there is a special tool that is specifically designed to remove any stripped screw from any surface. It is called a screw extractor which is a two sided tool. The smaller side is a drill bit and we will start by using this end. Place this side on the top of the screw and begin drilling into the screw. This will begin cutting a new hole into the screw. Once you see the new hole forming, stop drilling and remove the bit from your drill. Flip the tool around and insert the other side into the screw head. Make sure your drill is set to remove screws, and it should come right out.

In some extreme cases, the head of the screw may be completely removed from the base. In this case you will need to utilize a different form of extractor. This extractor has a hollow middle, with teeth around the edges. This burrows into the wood or drywall and will remove the affected area. If this is your situation, if you are removing the screw from wood, utilize a wood plug in order to repair the hole. If you are removing it from drywall, you will have to patch your wall.

If none of these other options work, you can use an old screwdriver. If you have a cheap screwdriver that you are willing to part with, it is also a possibility to use an epoxy to attach it permanently to the head of the embedded screw, once the epoxy has hardened you can use the screwdriver as normal to remove the screw. Be wary however, as this will permanently bond the screwdriver and screw and you will have to dispose of both. If you have another (not stripped) screw head around, you can also affix this to the stripped screw in order to remove it. These are just a few of the ways of how to remove a stripped screw inside a wooden cavity.