How to Remove a Stripped Allen Screw
Got a stripped Allen screw you can't budge? You've come to the right place. One of these methods should do the trick.
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Less than 1 hour
When dealing with a stripped Allen screw, don't get frustrated. One of these methods should get it loosened in no time.
- Allen wrench
- Channel lock pliers
- Oscillating tool with metal blade
- Friction drops
- Rubber band or glove
- Small stir stick
- Two-part epoxy
We’ve all stripped a few screws in our day. Normally, isn’t a big setback — until you need to unscrew it, that is.
Allen screws, frequently used in things like IKEA furniture and ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets, can be stripped just like any common screw. They’re so named because you need an Allen wrench (aka an Allen key or hex key) with a hexagonal socket to tighten them. The hexagonal shape provides six points to apply pressure to the fasteners, making them more efficient.
Most Allen screws in RTA cabinets or furniture are made of alloy or carbon steel. Higher-end models feature chrome vanadium steel, a material stronger and better suited for motorcycle or heavy machinery work.
Over time, these screws can become stripped due to excessive torque while fastening. Allen screws made from weak metals strip quickly, and using the wrong size Allen wrenches/hex keys can also damage them.
Regardless of the reason, it’s no fun trying to remove a stripped Allen screw. We’re here to help. Here are a few methods to make this task quick and successful.
Project step-by-step (6)
Channel lock pliers
If the stripped screw sticks out sufficiently, use channel lock or vise grip pliers to latch onto the screw and turn it counterclockwise until it comes out.
Most hardware or auto parts stores sell friction drops, which add resistance to a stripped screw. Apply a couple of drops to the stripped screw head. Then push your hex key into the screw and turn counterclockwise until it comes out.
You could also push a wide rubber band or rubber glove into the stripped screw head before trying to turn it. The rubber adds additional grip.
Here’s an effective but messier option: Epoxy the stripped screw to a hex key. Use a key or Allen wrench you’re willing to part with, because you’ll have to throw it out afterwards.
Mix two-part epoxy and spread it into stripped screw head. Attach the hex key, let it dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then try to turn the stripped screw.
The oscillating tool method requires more effort, but it’s effective.
First, put on safety glasses. Cut a slot into the screw head long and deep enough to fit a flathead screwdriver. Then turn with the screwdriver to remove.
If all else fails, different types of screw extractor bits will fit into your stripped Allen screw. You can find these at the hardware store or online.