I broke the screws off accidentally on both. I’ve tried to use a drill’s chuck to remove them, I tried pliers, and even one of those universal sockets. Any other ideas on how to remove them? The top screw is sticking out further than the bottom and pliers wont grip good enough to twist and turn it lose.
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  • I assume there's actual framing behind the ripped up casing, where it's the framing that's holding the screws with no contribution from the casing. To get a better bite on the recessed screw, you can take a utility knife and cut a pyramid of wood from around the screw. Just offset a 1/4" or so from the screw and cut diagonally toward the screw on all 4 sides.
    – popham
    Commented Jan 26 at 5:19
  • Or this? How to remove screws with stripped heads?
    – isherwood
    Commented Jan 26 at 14:06

5 Answers 5


While vise grips are the absolute right answer, a small drill bit (3/32) run down the sides of the screw will help loosen the hold of the wood fibers on the screw.


Vise grips will work on the top screw, since it has almost 1/4" of shank protruding. You will need to adjust the setting screw on the end of the handle to really grab the screw strong, like tight enough you can barely get the handles to lock in. The jaws of the vise grip have corrugations, set them so the shank of the screw is in the lower part of the corrugation, so the screw shank is hugged by the corrugations. This means you will need to get the vice grip perfectly perpendicular to the screw shank. If doing it this way, and you cannot grab at least a 1/4" of shank with the jaws, it will spit it off as soon as you try to turn the screw out, so don't even try it, for it will ruin the other way using the same tool.

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That way is grabbing it straight in, so the tool is in line with the screw, not perpendicular. This way, you will really need to have the best firm grip you can get with the tool, for it will be really easy for it too spin on the screw shank without turning a thing except for ruining the end you need to work with. If you grab less than 1/4" it will spit off the end of the screw while tapering the remaining screw shank. Been there, done that, MANY times, before I got it down.

The bottom screw, good luck with that one. I would suggest lowering or raising the strike plate just enough to get a screw in beside it. Moving it enough to let the latch bolt go in. Usually, the latch bolt and strike plate are never really perfetly centered on each other, so there is usually a preferred way to relocate the strike plate to take advantage of the off-centeredness.

Link to plug cutter

I wanted to get just the picture, but it didn't work, the link will have to do.....

If you absolutely must have the screw gone, I have used plug cutters to remove screws. They have an open center that can go around the screw and cut the wood that the screw is embedded in. Expect to trash it out, as in it will be good for a one time use, but the idea is to get rid of the screw anyways. A 3/8" plug cutter is a good size for this. Center it up over the screw, trying to determine the direction the screw goes in so it does not hit the metal too quickly as to trash it out right away. Once the plug is cut with the screw in the center, pop the plug out with a small thin tool, perhaps a small screwdriver, or ice pick. To restore the area cut a 3/8" dowel rod to length and drive it in the hole with glue on the dowel before driving it in. The grain direction on the dowel make for a weaker screw grab, but this is where a longer screw will make up for that difference.


My first choice is locking pliers, AKA "VISE-GRIP®" pliers, such as these (example only). As the pliers are about to close, force can be very high, and once locked, you no longer have to squeeze while turning out the screw.

Some other choices are:

  • Break off the end of the wood screw and drill out the remainder (difficult in wood, since the drill bit will tend to slip off the metal screw and dig into the soft wood).
  • Chisel out the surrounding wood, and insert a wood patch. This might be the best choice, since the existing wood seems badly damaged.

Compound leverage locking pliers (e.g. things like the brands Vise-Grip or Mole Grip) are the only plier type that's likely to have a chance. On the lower one you might have to chisel away some wood to get a bite on the screw.

Failing that, use a hole saw to drill around the broken screw and remove the wood plug and the broken screw as one, then glue in a wood plug before trying again with the screws.


A good end-nipper will grab those screw stubs. Chisel away any wood that interferes, as you are going to have to replace that section of door frame anyway.

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