Screws: How to Loosen a Stuck Phillips Screw

Conquer stripped-out screws

Frustrated by a Phillips screw that's starting to strip out? Salvage the situation with one of these tips before you go through the misery of drilling out the screw.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Two screw extraction methods

It's easy to strip out a Phillips screw, especially if you belong to the “more torque is better” club. Rather than mangle the screw head and then have to drill it out, try these tricks.

At the first sign of “slippage,” coat your Phillips screwdriver tip with valve grinding compound (sold at any auto parts store). Then try removing the screw (Photo 1). If that doesn't work, buy a handheld impact screwdriver (sold at auto parts store). Smack the screwdriver with a hammer (Photo 2). The “shock and turn” motion usually frees up the screw.

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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.

  • Rags
  • Wrench set

You'll also need a Phillips screwdriver with a good tip and a handheld impact screwdriver

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