Screws: How to Loosen a Stuck Phillips Screw

Updated: Jul. 21, 2023

Conquer stripped-out Phillips screws

Phillips-screw-Phillips-headFamily Handyman
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.

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Two Phillips screw extraction methods

Photo 1: Coat the tip and turn

Slip a box-end wrench over the hex-shaped “boss” near the screwdriver handle (if equipped). Then coat the tip with valve grinding compound and jam it into the Phillips screw head. Push on the screwdriver while you crank on the wrench.

Valve grinding compound

Valve grinding compound gives the screwdriver tip more grip.

Photo 2: Hold, smack, turn

Get a solid grip on the impact tool. Then smack the end with a hammer. The blow automatically forces the Phillips bit into the screw head and twists it at the same time.

Impact tool

Impact tools are available at auto parts stores.

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. Check out these tips for removing stuck screws of all kinds.

Required Tools for this Phillips Screw Removal 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 Phillips Screw Removal Project

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

  • Valve grinding compound