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Broken screw

I'm trying to remove this tower holder, but the screw is stuck. The hole seems to be a 2mm hexagonal socket, but the allen key turns and cracks without moving the screw.

I've tried other fixtures and some will unscrew just fine while others are more or less stuck. I suspect that all the rust caused tue socket to crumble when I tried to unscrew so now it's pretty much ruined.

Normally I would use a screw extractor for this job, but the piece is just too close to the wall and a drill won't fit. Maybe some kind of manual, small screw extractor could be used, if it even exists.

I've considered several options to deal with this:

  • superglue the allen key in the socket and turn it with a hammer. Most likely the glue won't handle it
  • use a left-hand tapper to grip in the screw and unscrew it. I would need to buy such a tapper just for this job and most likely would break it
  • grind the s**t out of that thing with an angle grinder, it would take much time and I would prefer not to

Any ideas on a technique/device I could use?

  • I don't know if this will work on fixture set screws, so leaving this as a comment instead of an answer: on rusted screws, my goto approach is a ball peen hammer strike to the screw followed by aerosol rust remover. So in this case, I'd try a few light taps against a nail setter placed in the set screw, then some focused light sprays with Liquid Wrench (or similar). Wait and repeat. – bishop Feb 10 at 18:49
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    And, instead of glue, you can use grinding paste to give your wrench more grip on the screw walls. – bishop Feb 10 at 18:52
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    you can drill out the set screw from the front. dent it a little with a punch, then drill right in front of the screw. Once you get it drilled, it should start to peel and wiggle. If it doesn't pop free, you can likely use needle nose pliers to peel away the metal around the rusted screw, from front to top back, around the screw hole. – dandavis Feb 10 at 18:57
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    Sometimes, a slightly oversize allen wrench can be ground down with a slight taper so as to make tighter fit Take a bit off the edges at a time until it just fits. – DrMoishe Pippik Feb 10 at 23:12
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I like the approach of going in from the front offered by dandavis. But, you have some others. First, it bears mentioning that you should duct tape a piece of thin sheet metal you have handy out from the set screw to protect the surface.

Before we begin, did you try some Kroil and a larger key first? It could be it's reluctant because the threads are slightly corroded. I think trying to use a binary epoxy to spin it out is likely to fail.

Some other options depending are:

  • Use a flexible shaft to hold your bit.
  • Use an extended drill bit.
  • Instead of a grinder, use a cut-off wheel on a grinder or cut-off tool. This way you're slicing through what you need to. It's tough to determine what the dimensions are, but if you have a 3" wheel, you should be able to get rid of that set screw without many issues.

Good luck!

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I find small screws regularly strip and I have only found 2 ways to get them out , the first way won’t work as that is using heat (a torch) you don’t want to crack your tiles. So then I move to easy out’s, I find the square easy outs work better than the round ones for set screws. Don’t set the easy out two hard or it may crack the black oxide set screw as they are hardened. There are many sprays / penetrating oils that help if given time to work. In this case a spray then use of a hair dryer may be helpful to work the spray into the threads prior to trying an easy out.

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  • What is an "easy out"? – Rob Feb 11 at 22:01
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    Easy out’s are tools designed to go in a hole and grab the sides of the hole and bite in when turned ccw , just google easy out. Some brands are called easy out screw extractor. Some are round tapers some are square, as I mentioned for set screws I like the square tapered a set of 5 sizes cost a whopping $5.49 from northern tool. Every result on my “easy out” search was a type round or square some even have a drilling tip built in some sets come with drills, the best ones come with left hand drill bits. The bits cut in ccw direction and sometimes that will take the stuck screw out. – Ed Beal Feb 11 at 22:56

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