How to get a stripped screw out?

What Is a Stripped Screw?

A screw becomes stripped when the grooves on the head of the screw – whether for a Phillips head or flat screwdriver – have been completely worn off. Your drill bit or screwdriver has nothing to sink into in order to leverage the screw when it twists.

Of course, there is such a tool as a screw extractor bit that you can use in your drill, which works like a charm, but you definitely don’t need one. You just have to know different ways to remove a stripped screw. In fact, all the methods explained here use common items from the home or garage to get that stuck screw out. The beauty of having so many ways for how to remove a stripped screw is that if one isn’t working for you, try another.

Cut a Slot For a Flat-Head Screwdriver

The Spruce

Use a rotary cutting tool or a multi-tool fitted with a metal blade to cut a slot on the screw. Cut the slot straight across to create a groove for the blade of a flat-head screwdriver.


Use Steel Wool

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Lack of grip is always the problem with a stripped screw. Your driver bit just keeps rotating around the bored-out screw head. One way to provide instant grip to the surface is to insert steel wool between the screw head and the driver bit.

Make use of a wood plug cutter

Preferably, it is not an efficient method because you have to give up on the part of the frame in this case, but it is one of the last options.

The wood plug cutter has a mouth that cuts the surrounding of the screw in a circular shape.

Place the cutter in a drill machine and drill deep into the material to remove it out. 

Pro-tips for securing stripped screw in a bed frame

Usually, securing it is not a difficult task, but you should look for tips for successful tightening. 

It only requires your care and concentration with the correct techniques and tools to prevent the chances of any mistake.

I always follow these instructions when securing it, and they make the process much easier and convenient for me.

The tool you are using, either a screwdriver or a drill bit, should fit into the slots of its head.

Know that you are using the wrong head-sized tool if it does not fit perfectly in the screw head and remains loose or out.

Also, keep in mind that the electrical tools are that reliable, as they do not produce the needed torque to drive it out.

However, operate them at low speed and less pressure if you want to use a drill.

I always prefer to secure it manually with a Philips head tool instead of using power drills. 

Remain aligned to the axis of the slot and use the same size as the hole.

Things You’ll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Screw extractor, screw extractor bit, or screw extractor kit. ($1-$20 in your local hardware store)
  • Socket wrench
  • Power drill
  • Metal-drilling drill bit
  • Eye protection
  • Work gloves
  • Hammer or mallet
  • Impact wrench
  • Screw extractor
  • Locking pliers
  • Duct tape, rubber band, steel wool, or abrasive pad

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6. Cut In with an Oscillating Tool



If there’s an oscillating tool in your workshop, such as a Dremel (and if you’re a committed DIYer, you probably should own one of these tools)—affix the metal-cutting disc and create a new, deeper slot in the screw head. Follow up with a flathead screwdriver, pressing it firmly into the indentation and twisting it slowly.

3. Pull with Pliers



Inspect the screw head closely. If there’s any daylight between the screw head and the surface to which it’s fastened…

  1. See if you can get hold of the screw with a pair of locking pliers (also known as vise grips).
  2. If you can get the tool to grab firm hold of the screw, you should be able to turn the pliers until the screw loosens and pulls away.

This isn’t the least labor-intensive option, but under the right circumstances, it works like a charm.


Get On With Your Project

This list of tips should help you solve how to remove a stripped screw and get on with your project. After you’ve dealt with this problem a few times, you’ll get a feel for which method will likely work best in a particular instance. You might even develop a go-to solution that works consistently for you. The main thing to remember is not to panic because this is a common problem and can usually be solved rather simply.