GOLEM keyboard project

How to remove a stripped screw?

There are various methods you can try to remove a stripped screw. Some will require special tools (e.g. screw extractors), others just patience or a steady hand. In this short guide I present you 7 possible solutions.

A stripped screw
A stripped screw

Rubber band

Putting a rubber band over the tip of your screwdriver may give you enough traction to get a screw out - at least in some circumstances. If this doesn't help, proceed to the next method.

Attacking from the side

If you have access to the sides of the screw head, get a set of needle-nose pliers, vice grips or other appropriate tools and clip onto the screw to turn it. (Careful about the surrounding components though.)


Turning it into a flat head screw

Try to grind a straight line into the stripped screwhead and then remove it with a flat head screwdriver.

Superglue

Find a screw with a flat tip, and superglue (carefully) it to the stuck screw. Voilá! You have a healthy flathead screw ready to be removed.

Drilling

If that fails, your next option is to drill the head partially or completely off. How usable this method is depends on your access to the other side of the screw.

Drill the screw head

Drill the screw head with a thin drill bit. You can use a hand drill or a power drill. A hand drill may be a better choice when you work around fragile components like on a PCB.

Screw extractors

There are drill bits made specifically for removing stripped screws, available for $8-20, just like these screw extractors: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=screw+extractor

Screw extractor kit
Screw extractor kit

Some say this is the simplest and cleanest way to remove the screw.

The screw extractors come in a 4-6 pieces set and work with any drill and many screw sizes (2-12mm). These tools are used to reverse the damaged screw counterclockwise until it is released.

Just two simple steps will get the job done: Use a suitable size screw remover to drill a hole into the screw head and it’s easy to extract the screw or bolt using the extractor tool (the other end of the bit).

Tips of a screw extractor
Tips of a screw extractor

The advantage of the screw extractor is that it is wound the other way. I.e., when they bite in, they loosen the screw (while a drill bit biting would tighten a screw).

That's it. Hopefully you managed to solve your issue with one of the methods presented above. For more tips check the Keyboard Builders' Digest, especially the Tips & Tricks column.