How to Remove a Stripped Bolt – Easy Method That Works

If you’re a DIYer, then you have probably experienced this – you’re turning a wrench and the bolt’s head rounds off. The wrench slips and your knuckles run into something sharp. Not only do you cringe in pain but the bolt has lost its torque. It has to be removed but the wrench won’t grip it firmly.

There are several easy ways of getting a better grip on stripped bolts and screws using both household and store-bought materials and in this post, we will share some of best with you.

But, before we go into that, let’s look at –

Why and When We Need to Remove Stripped Bolt

Does your screwdriver slip against the head of the screw you’re trying to remove? You will need to boost the torque or friction of the screw to get it out.

If you were removing a part of your car, perhaps the head gasket, and one of the bolts is stripped, you will need to find a way to remove it so they head gasket can come off without getting damaged.

Generally, we need to remove stripped bolts to be able to gain access into whatever we’re opening without ruining it.

So now, below are several methods of removing stripped bolts/screws.

Watch This video to know more:

How to take care of and remove a stripped bolt- step by step guide

Method I: with the help of a screwdriver

Is the screw fastened to a metallic object? Spray it with penetrating oil, like WD40, and give the oil around 10 minutes to penetrate the hole.

Use the biggest screwdriver that can grip the screw, and if it’s possible, use a wrench to grip the screwdriver’s handle; this will give you more leverage to get the screw out.

The screwdriver is slipping from the hole too often? You can solve this by covering the hole with a piece of material such as rubber to give the screwdriver extra grip. Apart from rubber, other options include steel wool, abrasive material from the kitchen, and duct tape.

To get even more grip, you can set the screwdriver deeper into the screw by tapping it in with a hammer. Don’t pound the screwdriver harshly, lest you break the screw’s head. If the object you’re dealing with is fragile, you better avoid this step and skip to the next one.

Position yourself such that your palm is against the free end of the screwdriver and your arm is behind it. Push into the screw as hard as you can while rotating the screwdriver.

At this stage, if the screwdriver still slips, quit this method and try the other methods we will discuss shortly.

But before that, in what direction are you unfastening the screw?

In most cases, the direction for removal is counter-clockwise.

To increase the effectiveness of this method, here are some strategies you can employ:

  • Heat the screw. That’s of course, if the heat will not damage the item the screw is fastened upon. The heat works by loosening the threads. A propane torch or heat gun will help you apply the heat but move it constantly as you use it to avoid heat the same spot exceedingly. After heating the screw, try the removal tactics we have outlined above. 
  • In the event that the screwdriver cannot get a proper grip on the screw, cut a flathead notch into the screw’s head. A hacksaw or Dremel will be very helpful here. Now, place a flathead screwdriver into the screw and attempt removing it.

Method II: with the help of an impact driver

This method is a bit like the part where we were driving the screwdriver into the screw using a hammer. An impact driver is an equipment that presses the screwdriver deeper into the screw with the help of a spring and a weight.

As long as the screw is attached to a sturdy object, the method is excellent. But, if it’s attached to electronics or other sensitive objects, the method will only cause harm.

Some impact drivers are designed with a switch that makes your work very easy. All you have to do is set the tool to the “loosening screws” mode. On some models, you need to set the direction of the rotation by turning the handle.

So, to use the impact driver, put it in the screw, holding it at an angle of 90°. Hold it at the midpoint; avoid holding the end.

Follow these steps:

  • Hold the driver in place. Fit a drill bit of the correct size to the end of your driver. Place it in the screw and hold the driver in place at a 90º angle. Grip the driver at its midpoint, keeping your hand clear of the end.
  • Next, tap the impact driver’s end with a mallet. Use a rubber mallet to prevent the development of scratches on the impact driver.
  • As you use the impact driver, keep checking its direction to ensure it’s still correct. The strikes may lead the driver to jarring out of position.
  • Continue tapping the driver to loosen the screw and once it is loose, remove it using a normal screwdriver.

Method III: using a screw extractor

Is the screw’s head too worn out? Then, you will need to get a screw extractor. This tool is basically a screwdriver, only that it’s made of super-hard metal with reverse threads at the tip.

Even though this is a popular method, great caution is needed because the tool might break the screw, resulting in the need to get a professional. To avoid that, go for an extractor with a diameter that’s 75% or lower that of the screw’s trunk.

If the screw you’re dealing with is a socket cap or Torx with an exposed cylinder-shaped body, a multi-spline screw extractor will come in handy. Rather than using the steps we’ve described below, just tap the extractor into position turn it using a socket wrench.

  • With a drill bit made for drilling hard metals, bore a hole in the screw’s head. As you do this, you might want to wear a protective gear to safeguard your body, particularly your eyes, from flying metal shards. If need be, stabilize the drill with a drill press to keep the screw from getting damaged. Also, start by drilling a tiny hole, around 1/3 to a ¼ inches deep. Don’t go too deep to avoid breaking the screw.
  • Drive the extractor into the screw using a brass hammer. Remember that a screw extractor is made of super-hard metal; unfortunately, this also happens to be brittle. Therefore, a hammer made of steel or iron could easily break it. Drive the extractor into the screw till it grips the walls of the hole firmly.
  • Rotate the extractor with caution. Keep in mind that if the turns are very forceful, the extractor might break and leave you worse off than before. To make things safe, you could fit a tap handle over the extractor’s head. Remember you did some drilling; this loosened the screw, leaving you with little work, and that’s why you needn’t use much force when removing the screw with the extractor.

Final Word

That’s it, friends. One of the methods described here should get that stripped bolt out. By the way, bolts often get stripped by rust. This post will help you remove rust from your tools and prevent further rusting.

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