So you’ve come to our website seeking the best pliers in the world or a damaged screw extractor. Perhaps you need information on how to remove a stripped screw. We’ve addressed this question in a past blog post, but perhaps the bigger question for the future is, how do I avoid stripping a screw in the first place?

What is a Stripped Screw?

A screw becomes stripped when the head is damaged and becomes impossible to turn and remove using normal screw removal methods.

Different screws have different purposes; different screw purposes equate to differing head designs. Some designs of screw head are more prone to stripping and use of machine-guided tools rather than manual tools will significantly increase the likelihood of a screw becoming stripped.

Slot head screws (which require flathead screwdriver) are the simplest screws and these are most susceptible to stripping. A Phillips head screw is designed to prevent stripping happening as easily as it will in a slot head screw.

The more complicated the screw head and its driver, the more secure the driver will be in the screw and the less the chances that stripping will occur.

What Causes a Stripped Screw?

  • Normal wear and tear
  • Corrosion of the screw
  • Using the incorrect design of screwdriver for the screw
  • Using the incorrect size of screwdriver for the screw
  • Using an electric screwdriver
  • Application of too much torque (rotational force)

A screw will corrode over time if it is situated in a wet or damp environment.

It is very important to inspect screws prior to attempting to remove them and to use the correct driver for the head. Not only can a screw become stripped (or be damaged even more if already stripped), but personal injury can occur when trying to remove a stripped screw with a screwdriver.

Tips for Avoiding a Stripped Screw

  • Use the correct screw for its application
  • Use the correct screwdriver for the selected screw – size and design
  • Use a manual driver in preference to an electric drill
  • If using an electric driver is necessary, apply sufficient but not too much pressure on the driver
  • Align with the axis of the screw during installation
  • Prepare your medium with a pilot hole if appropriate – it needs to be slightly thinner than the diameter of the screw you will use.

Check out our blog post on How to Remove a Stripped Screw!