How to Remove a Stuck Screw

We show you some ways to remove a stuck Phillips head screw

Get that stuck screw out using one of these techniques for removing screws in metal. Begin with the easiest and move on the more complex if necessary.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Removing stuck Phillips screws: The easiest techniques

No matter how simple the repair, it seems like there’s always one stuck screw. You try to muscle your way out of the jam, but all that does is cam out the screw head slots. It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few tricks to coax out a stubborn Phillips screw.

At the first sign of trouble, spray the screw with rust penetrant (Liquid Wrench and PB Blaster are two really good brands). Let the penetrant work for at least 15 minutes. Then spray it again and tap the screw head dead-on several times with a hammer. Then try the screwdriver again.

Next, apply valve grinding compound (photo 1). The compound (about $4 at any auto parts store) contains a fine grit that helps the screwdriver bite into the head.

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Still stuck? Try stronger techniques

If the screw still won't budge and the surrounding surfaces can tolerate some heat, aim a lighter flame directly onto the screw head. Then douse it with cold water before trying it again. Still stuck? Invest in an impact screwdriver (photo 2). Pick one up for about $20 at a home center or an auto parts store.

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Stripped the head? Cut a new one

If you've stripped out the head, cut a new slot with a straight-groove rotary tool (photo 3). Then crank it out with a flat-blade screwdriver.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Hammer
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Impact driver

You also might need a rotary tool.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • Valve grinding compound