Whether you’re a DIY hobbyist, a carpenter, a mechanic, or an engineer, we all use screws. And the unfortunate thing about screws is that they sometimes get stuck. If youd like to learn how to remove a broken screw, then we’ve got you covered.

There are many reasons a screw might get stuck. They might rust. The screw’s threads could adhere to the hole and seize. You may have stripped the screw head. A standard screwdriver is no longer usable when you strip the screw head.

What can you do if your screw gets stuck? It depends on why the screw is stuck and what tools you have.

Let’s look at some of the more common cases.

A Screw With a Stripped Head

(With a Power Drill)

A Screw With a Stripped Head

(Without a Power Drill)

A Rusted or Seized Screw


A Screw With No Head


  1. The screw extractor method.
  2. The destruction method.
  1. The screw removal pliers method.
  2. The Bazooka method.
  3. The demolition screwdriver method.
  1. The shock & awe method.
  2. The heat & cool method.
  3. The destruction method. 
  1. The hollow screw extractor method.
  2. The welded nut method.

Case 1: How to remove a broken screw with a stripped head.

There are a few reasons you might strip your screw heads and some simple ways to prevent it from happening.

You should always align your screwdriver with the drive of the screw. The hardened-steel screwdriver will damage the inside of your screw head if your angle is off.

Also, many people don’t know that power drills aren’t suitable for driving screws. They don’t provide enough torque at low speeds to get those final few turns in to tighten it. They spin too fast and start to cam out and damage the screw. You should always tighten your screws by hand with a properly fitting screwdriver. If you're not sure whether you have the right screwdriver for the job, it's a good idea to first choose a screwdriver brand that suits your work, and go from there.

One of the most common reasons that screw heads get stripped in the west is using screwdrivers or drill bits that don’t fit correctly. It isn’t a problem if your screwdriver is a few millimeters larger or smaller than the screw. But if the shape of the screwdriver doesn’t match the screw, the screw head will strip if you apply pressure.

You may not even know that you’re using the wrong shape screwdriver for your screws because they look so similar. But many of the star-shaped screws we use today are not the Phillips screws that we’re used to. They’re JIS screws from Japan.

JIS screws get damaged if you apply torque to them with a Phillips head screwdriver. There’s a simple solution to this: get yourself a set of JIS screwdrivers. You can safely use JIS screwdrivers on both JIS screws and Phillips screws.

So, now that we’ve covered how your screw head got stripped, let’s see some ways we can remove it.

Removing a stripped screw with a power drill.

If you have a power drill, removing screws is quick and painless. Screw extractors can help you pull the screw right out. If you don’t have a screw extractor set, you’ll need to destroy the screw. This requires durable, high-quality drill bits for metal, as you’re going to break up that stubborn screw by drilling through it.

The screw extractor method:

how to remove a broken screw with a screw extractor set

What you need:

  1. A power drill.
  2. A high-quality screw extractor set.

    The screw extractor method is a simple way to remove screws with stripped heads. The most effective screw extractors are double-sided. With double-sided screw extractors, one side is the extractor itself, and the other is an appropriately sized drill bit to dig into the screw. 

    First, select a screw extractor with a drill bit smaller than the screw you need to remove, then insert it into your power drill with the drill bit side (not the extractor side) facing out.

    Slowly drill into the target screw head to make a tapered hole just large enough for your extractor. Be sure to have your drill set to a low-speed setting, and wear eye protection.

    Flip your drill bit around so that the extractor side is facing out and reverse the direction of your drill. Place the extractor into the hole you just drilled and use the drill at a slow speed to remove your stuck screw.

    The destruction method:

    What you need:

    1.  A power drill.
    2. A set of top-quality drill bits for metal.

    Sometimes the only answer is destruction. If you’ve got a screw with a stripped head, you’ve got a power drill and a quality metal drill bit set, but you don’t have a screw extractor set, your easiest option is to drill out the screw. The screw will be destroyed and the threads of the hole may be damaged. If you’re out of options and can re-drill the threads, try this method. You’ll need eye protection for this, so cover up before you start.

    Pick a high-quality drill bit a little smaller than the shaft of the target screw. You can’t see the shaft, so this requires a bit of guesswork. Start small and work your way up if you’re unsure.

    Insert the drill bit into your drill, and line it up with the center of the screw head. Hold your drill as straight as possible, and at a low speed setting carefully drill into the center of the screw. 

    Hopefully, the screw will come out on the first try. If it’s still stuck, try a larger drill bit and repeat until it’s done.

    Removing a stripped screw without a power drill.

    If you don’t have a power drill, don’t worry, you can still remove your screw. Some of these methods are even easier than using a drill. The major change when you're removing screws without a power drill is that the removal method depends on what type of screw you have.

    Is your screw head raised or countersunk? A raised screw head sits above the surface you’ve drilled into. So it’s easy to grip with the right tool. A countersunk screw head sits flush with the surface, so there’s nothing to grip. 

    Let’s look at some methods of removing both types of screw.

    Raised screw heads: the screw removal pliers method.

    screw removal pliers

    What you need:

    1. A pair of screw removal pliers.

    You only need one tool for this. Great! And the method is simple too.

    Japanese company Engineer has been producing a fantastic range of screw removal pliers since 2009 called Nejisaurus (or, Screw Eater). Engineer wanted to work out how to remove a broken screw with a single tool, so they designed these revolutionary pliers. They’re very affordable and should be in the top drawer of every toolbox. 

    The plier mouth is curved to fit the round screw, and has vertical and horizontal serrations to bite into the screw head.

    This is one of the easiest ways to remove a screw. Grip the head of the screw with your screw removal pliers, apply pressure to bite into the screw head, and twist. It should come out easily.

    Daitool sells a few varieties of Engineer screw removal pliers in our store. Engineer’s bestseller in Japan is the PZ-22 model.

    Countersunk screw heads: the Bazooka method.

    how to remove a broken screw

    What you need:

    1.  A Nejisaurus Bazooka grip and bit.

    Engineer’s Nejisaurus brand has expanded since 2009 to not only make screw removal pliers, but to specialize in all forms of screw removal. So they also needed a solution for countersunk screws, and that’s where the Nejisaurus Bazooka comes in.

    The Nejisaurus Bazooka is a collection of specially designed drill bits and a handle to turn them. The drill bits are wider so that they can work with worn screw heads. 

    Choose a bit that fits your stuck screw and place it in the bazooka grip. Put the bit into the screw and turn. It should catch and twist out.

    If your screw head is very stripped, try inserting the bit first. Give it a few hard taps with a hammer before putting the Bazooka grip on. This will help it dig in. Then twist. Easy.

    Daitool sells an Engineer Screw Removal Tool Kit which includes a Nejisaurus Bazooka grip, applicable bits, and a pair of screw removal pliers.

    Countersunk screw heads: the demolition screwdriver method.

    demolition screwdriver

    What you need:

    1. A flathead demolition screwdriver.
    2. A hammer. 

    If you don’t have any screw removal tools, you’re going to need a demolition screwdriver. Demolition drivers are special, because the shaft extends right through the handle to a metal striking plate.

    The logic behind this method is simple. Our driver can’t catch the screw head grooves, so let’s cut a new one.

    Take your flathead demolition screwdriver and place it into what remains of the groove in your stuck screw. Strike the butt of the screwdriver a few times with a hammer. The screwdriver will cut a new groove in the screw.

    Carefully turn the screwdriver to remove the screw without stripping your newly cut groove.

    Now you know how to remove a broken screw with a demolition screwdriver. Don’t have a demolition screwdriver? Buy a set of six here.

    Case 2: How to remove a seized or rusted screw.

    Now that weve covered how to remove a broken screw, lets go over how to remove a stuck screw. Screws can seize for several reasons related to temperature. One cause of seizing, called “cold welding”, is when the heat produced by the friction of tightening the screw causes it to fuse to the threads inside the hole. 

    Expansion is another reason a screw might seize. Metal expands when heated, and some metals expand more than others. If your screw is a metal with a higher thermal expansion coefficient than the metal you’re screwing into, a bit of heat will cause the screw to expand inside the hole to where it’s unable to be removed.

    We often use aluminum screws and bolts because of their high rust resistance, but aluminum has the highest thermal expansion coefficient of all metals.

    If your screws aren’t aluminum, they’re almost certainly steel. Steel has low rust resistance, so if your screws and the area around them get rusty, they’re likely to be difficult to remove. Rust acts almost like an adhesive, connecting the screw to the surrounding area.

    Luckily, the methods for removing seized and rusted screws are basically the same, so let’s check them out.

    The shock & awe method.

    how to remove a rusted screw

    What you need:

    1. Penetrating/lubricating oil.
    2. A hammer.
    3. A screwdriver (preferably with hexagonal bolsters)

    The first step in removing stuck screws is the shock & awe method. Whether your screw is rusted or seized, if the head isn’t stripped, try this first.

    First, spray the screw with penetrating and lubricating oil. This can be any oil you like, but WD-40 and Liquid Wrench are popular choices. Spray all over the screw and hole. Let it soak for about an hour.

    Take a heavy hammer and give the screw a few sharp whacks. The rust should be broken, and the threads loosened. 

    Wipe the remaining oil from the surface of the screw, align your screwdriver with the screw and turn. If your screwdriver has a hexagonal bolster, you can use a wrench to apply more torque.

    The heat & cool method.

    how to remove a broken screw

    What you need:

    1. A butane or propane torch
    2. A screwdriver

    This method works for screws that have seized because of cold welding or thermal expansion. Before doing this, know how to operate a butane or propane torch safely. Also check that the metal of your screw can withstand high temperatures.

    As we mentioned earlier, when you heat metal, it expands. When you heat a seized screw to an extreme temperature, and then let it cool, the screw will expand and contract. This will break the adhesion between the threads of the screw and the threads of the hole.

    Before you start, wipe up any leftover oil from the previous method. It’s better not to light the penetrating oil on fire.

    Fire up your torch, and heat the screw for 30-45 seconds. That’s all it takes. Leave the screw to cool and try to remove it with your screwdriver. If it’s still stuck, try the shock & awe method one more time.

    If that doesn’t work, you’ll have to use the next method.

    The destruction method.

    What you need:

    1. A power drill.
    2. A set of top quality drill bits for metal.

    If your screw won’t budge, the last resort is to destroy it. Destroying a screw may damage the threads inside the hole, so only do this if nothing else works. This may also cause little bits of metal to fly around, so wear eye protection.

    Select a high-quality drill bit for metal a little smaller than the shaft of the screw. A rule of thumb is that the shaft is narrower than the cross on the screw head. If you’re unsure about the size, start small and work your way up.

    Put your drill bit in your drill, and line it up with the center of the screw head. Start drilling at a slow speed until you think you’ve reached the bottom of the screw. If you can remove the screw with your fingers or pliers, then you’ve done your job. Still stuck? Try again with a larger drill bit. Repeat until the screw is removed.

    Case 3: How to remove a screw with no head.

    Sometimes when you’re struggling with a weak or rusted screw, the worst will happen. The screw head will break. But don’t fear. It’s not as bad as it looks. A screw with no head is like a screw with a stripped head, so we can use some of the same methods.

    We covered three methods earlier that might work in this situation, too. You could try the screw extractor method, the impact screwdriver method, or the destruction method. If you are using a hardened steel screw, you need to do things differently.

    These next two methods will show you how to remove a screw with no head if the screw is hardened steel, or too small for the other methods.

    The hollow screw extractor method.

    a hollow screw extractor

    What you need:

    1. A power drill or t-handle.
    2. A set of hollow screw extractors.

    If you have a hardened steel screw, or the screw’s too small to drill into, you won’t be able to use conventional screw extractors, the destruction method, or the impact screwdriver method. If you can’t cut into the screw, you’ll have to cut around it.

    Hollow screw extractors cut a hole around the broken screw, so you can remove the screw with a little of the wood it’s stuck in.

    Simply insert a hollow screw extractor into your power drill or t-handle. If you’re using a power drill, change the setting to reverse. Place the extractor around the broken screw and rotate to cut into the wood. It’s best to use something to keep your path straight, like a drill press or a guide block.

    Remove the screw along with the extractor. Now you’re left with a decent-sized hole, so how can you fill it? Get a piece of doweling the same size as the hole. Fill the hole, and sand it flat.

    The welded nut method.

    welding a broken screw

    What you need:

    1. A welding device.
    2. An appropriately sized nut.

    If the shaft of the screw is sticking out a little, but pliers aren’t working, another idea is to make a new head. How do you make a new head? You weld a nut on top, and turn your screw into a bolt. 

    This method is quite simple, but you need to know how to use a welder. Get a nut the same size as your screw shaft, and twist it onto the exposed threads. When the nut’s on tight, weld it in place so it won’t come off when you twist.

    Finally, you just treat it like you would a bolt. Get a pair of pliers or a wrench, grip the nut and twist. The broken screw should come out.

    Now you know how to remove a screw with no head, whether it's hardened steel or a softer metal.