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MMD > Archives > November 2001 > 2001.11.14 > 11Prev  Next

Removing a Bent or Broken Screw
By Craig Smith

I contacted Eliyahu Shahar to offer suggestions about his screw problem
and discovered that the pesky screw has relented.  I sent him a couple
of ideas that have worked for me in similar circumstances, so I thought
I'd repeat them here, in case someone else with a similar problem can
use them in the future.

Some things to try if your screw isn't loose.

 - There is a product called 'screw gripper'.  It is a fine grit in a
light oil base.  You put a drop in the thread and it grips the screw
driver and keeps it in the slot better.  It works best on Phillips
screws.  I think it is really just automotive cylinder honing compound
in a little tube.

 - And there is heat.  On smaller screws you can use a soldering gun to
heat the screw just until you smell wood burning.  The heat chars the
wood around the screw threads.  The charred wood cannot grip the
threads, so the screw usually comes out easily.  This works best on
rusted screws.  If the head is rusty, file a shinny spot first to get
good contact.

 - And there is epoxy.  Put a dab in the screw head and on the end of
a dowel.  Hold them together until hard. Then *pull.*  This would work
for your actual problem, a stripped wood screw.  For a machine screw,
use pliers to pull and turn the screw to engage the threads below the
stripped section.  Or solder a brass rod to the screw head.  There is
also a lot to be said for chewing gum, double sided foam tape,
neodymium magnets and screwdrivers with spring loaded blades.

These are in addition to the previously mentioned 'easy-out's and
drilling/twisting the heads off.

 - Another approach is to improve the slot with a file, a jeweler's saw
or a small grinder, especially if someone else (not you, of course) has
already damaged it.

By the way, I second the comments about having the correct screwdriver
to match the slot in the screw.  I have about 20 different sizes and
shapes of drivers and driver tips and I have occasionally hollow ground
a blade to a special shape to match a weird screw slot.  If there is
any indication that it will be a problem, be very careful to use the
correct driver the first time so that you do not bugger up the head.

Craig Smith -- Just screwing around, here in New York.

(Message sent Wed 14 Nov 2001, 15:03:59 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Bent, Broken, or, Removing, Screw

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