I guess I screwed up with a screw's head. This is not unusual and the question answered all over the place, but all existing answers I found were for wood screws.

Mine's a small (diam ~1/12th inch, length ~1/6th inch?) brazen round-headed slot screw that holds the name tag of a brazen bell system, similar to this one. The screw was turned in with too much force. When trying too loosen it, the head lost some brass around the slot, so I can't get any force into the screw with my screwdrivers any more.

What can I try, before changing the whole bell system?


3 Answers 3


The easiest way I've found to remove screws which you just cannot get purchase on with a screwdriver is to make the slot bigger. This can be accomplished with Dremel type rotary tool with a slim cutting disk. This is made easier if the head of the screw is above the working surface such as in the picture you showed. All you are trying to do is recreate the slot you've damaged. This will probably mean you'll need new screws in the end (but I think you are there already anyway). This, of course, will not work if the head is snapped off. Once the new slot is created, just use a flat tip screwdriver of the appropriate size to remove the screw. If it is still happening after this, the aforementioned processes of screw extraction would come into play.

  • 1
    Just used a Dremel with small slim disk to cut a slot in a screw that was almost an inch inside a wood plank when top portion with the head snapped, so as long as you can get to the main shaft removal is possible!
    – Astrogator
    Jun 24, 2021 at 3:38

Brass Screws, what can you do...

Well these screw heads are not the typical Phillips head, which introduces the tapered slot, you are probably using a Phillips head, and the contact points are not great.

I normally find that switching to a small flat screwdriver works better in this case. you could maybe try that.

Essentially, getting screws out requires a few things.

Good contact on screw head.

  • Try to find a better fitting driver, or try a flat head.
  • Make sure that your angle of the driver is spot on
  • Try to apply constant torque
  • Press as hard as you can on the head.

Non seized thread - first spray some penetrating oil - Tap on the heads with a small hammer - You could even heat up the head with a blow torch.

All of these factors are good cases for a power screwdriver, you can press hard, they have good torque and help you to align the head to bit. If you do have one, you can even put it in its lowest torque setting and get the drill to do that clicking that it does when the thread it too tight, that may loosen the hold on the screw head.

IF you dont have an electric screwdriver, then try to get a set of grip clams (vice grips) and clamp the shaft of the screwdriver near to the end of the shaft, it will allow you to hold with two hands whilst applying good pressure and torque.

Obviously the other thing you can use is WD-40 penetrating oil, which will loosen the screws slightly. The other thing is to heat up the head with a small blow torch, which, being brass, will heat up nice and quick, once cooled, you could try again. You could also tap slightly on the heads with a hammer to loosen.

I mention the oil and heat last, since i don't think you have a seized thread at all, a little bit of elbow grease should do the trick. Remember, brass is easy to sheer off. so you dont want to snap them off.

  • The screws are just plain old "Slot (regular)", not Philips nor Pozi. Some call them "flat head", but since it has a round head, I don't call it that way for fear of confusion.
    – Alexander
    Jan 19, 2015 at 16:49

9 times out of 10 you can get it out with a screwdriver that EXACTLY fits the slot.

The problem with the average screwdriver is that it has a BEVELED tip. I have no idea what idiot thought that up, but it belongs in the same category as knives that are not sharp. If you ask a knife company why their knives are not sharp, they will answer: "We are in the business of making knives, not making them sharp."

What this means, basically, is that whenever you buy a screw driver you have to grind its tip to make it perfectly flat.

If you can find (or make) a flat piece of metal that exactly fits your screw it will probably come out. One trick is to use one or more razor blades. Stack the blades until the fit the slot exactly. The blades will "bite" into the metal a little bit. You can also use those little rectangular Exacto blades the same way.

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