Extract a Broken Screw

Remove a mangled screw will a drill and special extractor

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If you have a stuck screw or bolt and have mangled the head, try removing it with a special screw extractor. It usually does the job quickly and easily.

Tools Required

  • Drill bit set
  • Drill/driver - cordless
  • Hammer
  • Locking pliers
  • Screw extractor
When you twist the head off a bolt, break a screw shank or mangle a screw head, you have a few options: In metal, you can completely drill out a bolt and restore the damaged threads with a tap. Likewise, you can drill out a wood screw and replace it with a larger one. But before you try these tricky methods, try a screw extractor, which usually does the job quickly and cleanly. You’ll find extractors at home centers and hardware stores for screw diameters from 3/32 in. to 1/2 in. or larger. Small extractors cost about $4.

Project step-by-step (3)

Step 1

Drill the Stuck Screw

broken screw extraction Family Handyman

Start by drilling a hole in the center of the broken screw using the drill bit size specified by the extractor manufacturer. If your drill bit won’t stay centered on the jagged, broken surface, switch to a smaller bit (1/16 in. or smaller). A smaller bit is easier to control and creates a shallow starter hole for the larger bit. Drill cautiously and apply only light pressure. The worst thing you can do is break off the drill bit inside the broken screw because removing a broken bit is almost impossible.

Step 2

Engage the Extractor

extractor to remove broken screwFamily Handyman

Next, insert the extractor into the broken screw hole and give it a firm tap with a hammer. Then push down on the extractor as you twist it counterclockwisewith locking pliers or a tap wrench to remove the screw. If the extractor threads won’t grab and turn the screw, try these other suggestions:

  • Tap the extractor into the screw with a bit more force. Heat from a heat gun may also loosen stuck threads.
  • In metal, apply a penetrating lubricant and let it soak in for 30 minutes.
  • Enlarge the hole with a slightly larger drill bit and try again.
Step 3

Close-Up of Extractor

close up of extractor Family Handyman

Extractors are available in several sizes to fit the approximate screw size.

For such a simple task, it’s surprising how many things can go wrong when you drive screws. We’ll show you how to perfectly drive screws so you can avoid all the frustration just by using the right screws and a few special tools.