How to Remove a Stuck Screw from Wood


Removing screws from wood does not have to be a headache if all goes well. However, it can be a real challenge if the screw is broken, bent, or twisted since it will be stuck to the wood. Fortunately, with a little technique, you can always get the screw out of the piece of wood. All you need to do is to gather your tools and know which procedure to use for every type of stuck screw. This article explains some of the tips you need to learn when dealing with a stubborn screw. Read on to discover tricks that work.

Removing screws that are stuck in wood may be a necessity, especially if you want to save the wood for your project. You can also proceed to clean the area where the removed screws existed before re-using the wood. In this case, make sure that you know which steps to follow first.

Gather Tools

Before you start working, you need to ensure that it is safe to deal with the stuck screw. This may mean getting protective wear, especially for your hands and eyes. However, the must-have tools for this job include:

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Most of these materials can easily be found online or at a local hardware store near you. Once you gather everything that you need, get into the working.

Removing a Screw with Stripped Head

When you forget the pilot hole or each time you drive a screw into the wood quickly, then a power screwdriver can spin the bit fast such that it strips away the cross shape in a Phillips-head screw. When this happens, it is difficult to drive the screw further in, or back it out. In case the screw’s head is above the wood surface, you can clamp a pair of locking pliers to the screw, making sure it is as close to the wood as possible. Gently turn the screw counterclockwise. Do this slowly to prevent the screw from snapping off its head.

Note that the locking pliers may slide sometimes. To protect the wood underneath, card the small cardboard’s width and slide the notch into two around the screw. Doing this helps the slip not to become a scratch.

When dealing with large screws, with stripped screw headrests flush with the wood, using a screw extractor will come in handy, especially if you want to avoid destroying your project. In this case:

  • Drill a hole that is 1/8-in deep. It should be done in the center of the screw head, in such a way thatthe largest screw extractor will fit into the screw head.
  • Put the tip of the extractor on the drilled hole
  • Slowly, start spinning the extractor in a counterclockwise manner, while pressing it down to a point where you feel it bites into the screw’s head.
  • Turn the extractor slowly to remove the screw from the wood just enough for it to be gripped by locking pliers, which will be used to remove the screw from the piece of wood altogether.

You can always prevent breakages and stripped heads in screws that are 2 and a half inches or longer by rubbing the threads with wax, which helps reduce friction when driving them into the wood.

Removing Screws with Broken Heads

It becomes even more challenging when the head of the screw being driven in twists. If you want to leave the broken screw in, then you have to simply drill a pilot hole and drive in a new screw, as long as it is a quarter-inch from the broken one. This will help secure the deck board in place.

However, this does not always work in cases where you are not securing the board. Such an instance is when installing a hinge. In such cases, you need to fix the damage caused by the broken screw before proceeding. The damages can happen in three ways.

1. Screw head snapping off while some of the screw’s shank extends beyond the wood surface

In this case, use a locking pliers to grab the screw shank and turn it counterclockwise until it is free from the wood surface.

2. The screw breaking at the wood surface

You need to make use of a utility knife’s sharp tip to cut enough wood around the shank such that the long pliers can comfortably grasp and remove the screw. Once done, drill half an inch hole at the screw’s center. You should then fill this hole with dowel if the wood fails to show up. Alternatively, use a seamless match, which is a woodcut from matching stock. In case you are concerned about the appearance, especially if the screw is bigger than one inch, then use a dowel that is capped with plug to offer the replacement screw a lot of gripping material.

3. When the screw breaks of more than 1/8 inches underneath the surface

You may have first to decide if the fastener is needed. If you answer affirmatively, then you should start by using the ½ inch bit to drill down the broken screw end. Make use of a nail point or make light taps using a hammer to create 5 or 6 starter holes. After this, use the 3/32 inch or 7/64 inch bit to drill holes beside the broken screw’s sides.

A tip to use would be to make the holes as deep as the screw lengths. Use a nail set or an awl, wiggle the screw to make it loose enough for the needle-nose pliers to grasp and pull it out. You can then clean the ragged holes using a ½ inch drill bit and fill the holes up with dowel. All the time you are working on removing the screws, make sure to do it slowly to avoid exerting too much pressure on the wood as speeds tend to damage the wood more.

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How to Plug Holes Left by Broken Screws

It is easy to fill the holes left behind by filling removed screws with a dowel. While this may work, the grains may not match. To ensure that the grain matches that of the surrounding wood, use a plug cutter instead. You have to start by first preparing the wood for the plug y first cutting a ½ inch into the plug.

Make sure you are careful when drilling to avoid splintering. You should then fill the hole by gluing a dowel cut up to ½ inch shorter than the hole. Tap below the surface by turning the nail upside down and hammering this point to drive dowel as far as it can go. Once done, proceed as follows:

  1. Use a portable drill to bore plugs in scraps that match the color and grain of the wood you want to fix.
  2. Placing a flat screwdriver into the plughole, pop the plug loose at the base
  3. Insert the smooth plug end into the hole with a grain of the plug that matches the wood grain and tap the plug with a hammer. Once this is in place, sand the remaining part smooth using an electric sander. Alternatively, use a chisel to shave the plug flat before sanding it. This way, you end up with a uniform wood surface even after you drilled holes into the wood to remove screws.

Removing stuck screws may not be easy, but still achievable. The secret is to know what steps to follow, once you have identified all the tools that you need. There are three different ways of removing screws from wood, depending on how they are stuck. Examine your screw first before picking a method to use.


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