I am trying to unscrew the screw head you see in the picture. It is from the kitchen faucet handle.

From looking online, it is usually a hex screw head. I tried a hex-key wrench, it didn't work, and tried every tool I have that could fit with no luck.

I am clueless, which one to use. Appreciate any help. Thanks!

Faucet handle screw head

  • 21
    can you post a clearer picture?
    – Ack
    Nov 18, 2020 at 7:19
  • 9
    That looks like it used to need an Allen key (it was a hexagonal hole into which a hexagonal rod fitted) but it's been rounded, possibly by using the wrong size Allen key and now there isn't enough left to find any purchase. I think you're going to need more than a screwdriver; I know there are devices which will help but I'm not knowledgeable enough to provide the advice you'll need. I don't think it's going to be easy, and you'll probably have to replace that screw when you've finished. Nov 18, 2020 at 8:35
  • 12
    A problem with this picture is that, like craters on the moon, iit could be interpreted as convex or concave. If concave then it would need an Allen key. If convex, it requires a spanner/wrench. Can you clarify? Are we looking at a bump or a hole? Nov 18, 2020 at 19:43
  • 1
    In similar situation, I've hammered a flat head screwdriver into the hole. If its sized right, it'll engage enough to get the screw out. Might be the end of the screwdriver
    – Kyle B
    Nov 19, 2020 at 1:26
  • 5
    @KyleB - it would be the end of the screwdriver. Nothing alse would fit..!
    – Tim
    Nov 19, 2020 at 11:10

4 Answers 4


It appears that the hex sides of that screw head have been rounded off due to the use of an ill-fitting hex wrench. A metric and an SAE hex wrench will both fit in there, but the use of the wrong one, while it feels like it fits properly, can be just loose enough that if the set screw is corroded in a bit, the wrench can slip and round over the edges.

You will need a screw extractor, like this:

enter image description here
Image courtesy of Lowes.com. No endorsement of brand or vendor intended or implied.

You insert this into a drill and run the drill in reverse. The extractor has a reverse thread that drills into the head of the screw and also turns the screw to back it out.

For the small added expense (and probably near impossibility of finding them individually), I'd suggest that you purchase a set of 3-5 extractors. That will help ensure you have the proper size for this screw, and you'll have a variety for future use. Note that these should work on nearly any screw with any type of screw head - slotted, Phillips, Torx, or other - not just the hex head of your set screw.

Once you have it out, you'll need to take it back to the hardware store/home-improvement center to buy an exact match (thread & length) replacement. As much work as you put into getting it out, you don't want to reinsert it and have to do it again...

  • 9
    The extractors I've used have all been quite brittle. I'd be reluctant to start one using a drill -- how about a tap handle instead? The extractors are square at the end just like taps, after all! Also, if the hole in the screw isn't deep enough to accept an extractor, use a left-handed drill bit to drill the hole deeper. Half the time I find the left-hand drill bit winds the screw out and I don't even need the extractor.
    – Greg Hill
    Nov 18, 2020 at 20:23
  • 5
    I certainly wouldn't be using a drill, except on very, very slow! If they were meant for that, they would not have a square drive. That's for the same use as a tap.
    – Tim
    Nov 19, 2020 at 11:12
  • 3
    A tap handle would work, I'm sure. I don't happen to have one, and the particular set of screw extractors I've got have hex ends and the instructions explicitly state to use them in a drill, but to run the drill very slowly in reverse. I support the proper response is to "follow the instructions".
    – FreeMan
    Nov 19, 2020 at 11:30
  • If this is a hex head screw it's at a severe angle to the opening in the surface. I see the optical illusion and don't think it is.
    – isherwood
    Nov 19, 2020 at 14:11
  • I said "hex head" in response to one of the comments that identified it as such, and based on my experience of only seeing hex heads in set screws. A screw extractor would work no matter what type of head the screw originally had, though, so it's of minimal importance to my answer.
    – FreeMan
    Nov 19, 2020 at 14:14

I mostly agree with FreeMan, but I think this was originally a Torx (six-pointed star) drive. The corners look deeper than I'd expect from an Allen drive.

I would get a set of Torx bits and look for the largest one that fits (which is the correct size for any screw head). Gently tap it in with a hammer, then attach the screwdriver or ratchet handle. While keeping the bit in line with the screw and pressed in tightly, see if you can turn it.

Once it's out, replace it.

enter image description here

  • 17
    That photo is what a Torx head looks like after it's been abused by a hex driver. It's all rounded except for the deepest part of the lobes.
    – jwh20
    Nov 18, 2020 at 14:11
  • I agree. There's other weird splined heads but they're used by hardly anybody except Apple. Nov 18, 2020 at 20:36
  • Yeah. This is what I thought when I looked at this yesterday, but I got sidetracked and didn't answer. I like the idea of tapping in an oversized bit.
    – SiHa
    Nov 19, 2020 at 12:30
  • 1
    I didn't say "oversized", I said the largest that fits. That would be the correct size.
    – isherwood
    Nov 19, 2020 at 13:57
  • 2
    The correct size would simply spin in the head, since there's likely not enough left for the bit to grab on to, since, presumably, the correct size was used and ended up stripping out the head, leaving what we see here. No?
    – FreeMan
    Nov 19, 2020 at 14:07

Find the largest allen or torx wrench or bit that is small enough to fit in the rounded-off hole. Mix up some 5-minute epoxy or epoxy putty, and put a blob of it into the hole. Immediately insert the allen or torx into the epoxied hole and let it harden for 24 hours. You now have a perfect allen or torx cavity with a tool in it. Unscrew carefully. Replace screw with a new one.

  • 1
    Would this also work for a phillips/star screw that has been stripped? I have a similar problem but I'd be concerned the area for the epoxy isn't large enough to be strong enough to turn once cured.
    – stan
    Nov 19, 2020 at 10:14
  • Yes, it would. In fact, it will have a better hold on the screw head due to the more pronounced shape.
    – isherwood
    Nov 19, 2020 at 13:58
  • 3
    This is an excellent answer! Of course, it requires a sacrificial tool, since the epoxy probably won't come off cleanly enough to reuse the tool. Also, be aware that a standard, 90° bent hex key will only spin 180° (or so, but likely less than 360°) before hitting a wall or possibly the faucet (in this case), so you won't get it unscrewed very far before being stuck again. If you use a hex bit that can be connected to a drill, ratchet, or wrench, they you should be good to go.
    – FreeMan
    Nov 19, 2020 at 14:11
  • 1
    Agreed, excellent answer. If this is a one-off, a sacrificial screw bit is almost certainly cheaper than buying a screw extractor set. +1
    – Nate S.
    Nov 19, 2020 at 19:09
  • @FreeMan Assuming a typical L-shaped hex key, just insert the long arm of the L into the hole and use the short arm for turning. That should give you plenty of leverage to loosen the set screw, and if it doesn't, just grip the short arm using your favourite tool and try again. Yes, you'll likely twist the key beyond repair, but that doesn't matter here. A perfect candidate for a sacrificial hex key is the super cheap kind bundled with Ikea furniture and the like. Those are made of such a soft metal that you can hammer them into not-exactly fitting holes and get extra purchase that way.
    – TooTea
    Nov 20, 2020 at 8:12

Giving a cheaper option, maybe you can try to cut a line with a rotary tool and simply use a flat screwdriver

enter image description here enter image description here

Example GIF

  • 3
    While this is a good suggestion in general, I don't see how it could work in this particular situation. The screw head is buried in a small access hole in the handle, you would have an extremely hard time getting a rotary tool in without damaging the handle.
    – TooTea
    Nov 20, 2020 at 8:06
  • Yeah, that could be quite hard, though. It's just an idea. Maybe the rotary tool it's not strictly required, but any other methods could be as hard as this one. I was thinking if the screw extractor can fit, maybe this solution could too, but being less expensive...
    – alseether
    Nov 20, 2020 at 11:20
  • Agree. This is an excellent technique on the conveniently raised sample screw, but would be nearly impossible to apply to the OPs set screw.
    – FreeMan
    Nov 20, 2020 at 16:39
  • ̶n̶e̶a̶r̶l̶y̶ impossible :)
    – SiHa
    Nov 20, 2020 at 16:42

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