Removing Stripped Door Screws
by Lee Wyatt
(last updated November 18, 2020)
For some reason, removing stripped screws is always a little bit difficult. Trying to remove stripped screws always seems to leave a person with a sense of helplessness that borders on the frustrating. However, when the stripped screws that you are faced with are found in a doorway, the frustration level is usually elevated. Removing stripped door screws doesn't need to be as frustrating as everyone makes it out to be though. Instead, use this method to ensure that you are able to get the screws out as painlessly as possible.
- Screwdrivers (variety is good, so get as many different kinds as possible)
- Metal saw
- Rotary tool (such as a Dremel)
- Standard sized drill bit
- Safety glasses
- Screw extractor
- Left handed drill bit
- Use a larger screwdriver. When attempting to remove a stripped door screw, you need to first use a larger screwdriver. The reason for this is that a larger Philips head screwdriver can often gain traction on a stripped screw that the correctly sized screwdriver cannot. When using this method, make sure that you are holding the screwdriver at an angle and that you push down as hard as possible to get the grip that you need. Slowly turn the screwdriver to remove the screw.
- Make your own slot. In the event that you are unable to gain traction on the screw head, try making your own slot. You can do this one of two ways. The first is to use a straight edge screwdriver. Place the largest possible straightedge screwdriver into the open space on the screw, and slowly begin to turn the screw. Another way that you can make your own slot is to use a rotary tool (such as a Dremel), and cut a new straight slot into the screw head. Remove the screw like you would any other.
- Drill into the screw. Use a drill to create a small hole into the screw head, that is about 1/3 the size of the head which goes 1/4 of an inch into the screw itself. After making the hole, insert a small Philips head screwdriver into the hole, and remove the screw. You may need to push down on the screwdriver to gain traction, but you should be able to remove the screw with little or no problem.
- Use your screw extractor. If you have a screw extractor (which you can purchase at any local home improvement store) or a left-handed drill bit, you should be able to remove the stripped door screw with no problem. Push the extractor or drill bit down onto the stripped screw, and remove the screw. Be careful that you don't push it too hard, or you may end up breaking the screw.
- Drill the entire screw. When all else fails, you can always drill the entire screw out. All you need to do is select a drill bit that is at least the same size as the shank of the screw. The shank is the part that the screw threads are on, and not the head. If you have doubts about the size of the shank, then you can use one of the non-damaged screws as a guide.
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