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How to remove screws with stripped heads?

I'm trying to take a cupboard off a wall, but one of the screw heads has stripped making it pretty difficult to do.

I have briefly tried to use a flat head screw driver and a hammer to give the screw head some definition (this may still be the way to go) but its not really working.

I'm sure this has happened to everyone, and there's got to be a reasonably easy solution, I just don't know it yet.

  • 1
    The answers to this question will be helpful.
    – Tester101
    Aug 20, 2012 at 13:41

2 Answers 2


NO. Don't hammer a flat head screwdriver into the thing, hoping to damage the head more, but in a way that will allow you to remove the screw. It won't improve the situation, and it will just damage the screwdriver! Using a hammer like this will only (temporarily) relieve your frustration.

There are many varieties of "easy-out" or "grabit" screw extractor bits sold. Usually they will fit into a drill, allowing you to back out a damaged screw.

If I don't care if I damage the wood around it, I'll just break/pry out some of the wood around the head, enough to be able to grip the head with a pair of vice grips. For example, I have an old beater chisel, used expressly for this purpose. I don't care if I damage the edge, although I probably would not do so as long as I was careful. Or use a Dremel moto-tool to remove the wood around the screw head.

Of course, if you have a moto-tool, then another option is open to you. Use a slotting bit to grind a new flat slot into the head of the screw. The slot will now accept a flat head screwdriver.


If you can grab the edges of the screw head with a locking pliers (such as Vise-grip), you can twist the screw out.


If not, you can use an electric drill to remove thw whole screw head. Choose a bit that is slightly larger than the screw shaft (check one of the other screws you removed). Drill straight through the middle of the damaged screw slot. The border of the screw head will fall away. After the cabinet is down, you can remove the shaft of the screw with the locking pliers.

  • In my experience for screws, Visegrip is a far more effective method than specialized "easy-out" tools. Bolts are another matter.
    – alx9r
    Oct 12, 2012 at 19:31

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