How to Remove a Stripped Allen Screw

Updated: Jun. 13, 2024

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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Time

Less than 1 hour

Complexity

Beginner

Cost

Varies

Introduction

When dealing with a stripped Allen screw, don't get frustrated. One of these methods should get it loosened in no time.

Tools Required

  • Allen wrench
  • Channel lock pliers
  • Oscillating tool with metal blade

Materials Required

  • 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)

Step 1

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.

Locking with pilersTMB STUDIO

Step 2

Friction drops

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.

Friction DropsTMB STUDIO

Step 3

Rubber band

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.

Using rubber band to screwTMB STUDIO

Step 4

Epoxy

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.

Putting epoxyTMB STUDIO

Step 5

Multi tool

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.

Rotary ToolTMB STUDIO

Step 6

Extractor bit

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.

Hex ExtractorTMB STUDIO