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When refinishing wooden furniture, you need to remove all hardware and erase all imperfections. The most common flaws are dents, gouges, holes, and bumps but one of the hardest to deal with is stripped screws in wood. How do you remove stripped screws when all conventional techniques have failed? This guide will help you remove ugly screw marks as well as stripped screws in wood so you can refinish your project with ease.
Stripped screw removal
You must remove all imperfections on the surface of the wood to seamlessly refinish it. Here are the steps to remove stripped screws successfully.
Things you will need
- Wide rubber band
- Steel wool
- Duct tape
- Impact driver
- Rubber mallet
Using a screwdriver
Remove a stripped screw using an ordinary screwdriver (Philips or flat tipped screwdriver). Grip the screw head with a screwdriver to try to remove it by hand.
If the screw won’t budge and it is fastened to metal, spray penetrating oil like WD40 and let this remain for at least fifteen minutes. Be sure to use the largest manual screwdriver that will fit your screw. Use a wrench to improve your leverage.
Use additional material to improve your grip on the screwdriver handle. If the screwdriver keeps slipping out of the hole, use a wide rubber band, a piece of steel wool, green abrasive from a kitchen sponge or a piece of duct tape to improve your grip.
Use a hammer and tap the screwdriver gently to the screw head. Don’t do this if the screw is fastened to a fragile piece of material or wood. You may use a square #1 drill bit. Hammer this into the screw head until it penetrates into the stripped head screw.
Be sure to apply a good amount of pressure on the screw. Push down hard as you rotate. Press directly down into the screw with your full forearm as you move the screwdriver.
If the screwdriver is slipping, stop immediately. This will only continue to wear down the screw head and make it even harder to remove.
Another option is to heat the area. If you can heat the screw without affecting the wood then you can do this to loosen it. Apply a heat gun or use a propane torch to the screw. Move the gun or torch constantly to prevent overheating. This will work well if the screw has been set in place using a bonding agent.
Use a Dremel saw or hacksaw to cut a flat-head notch. If your screwdriver is still unable to get a good grip, cut a notch into the screw head. Use a flat-head screwdriver and try to turn the screw if you can. You can use this technique with other steps given above.
Using an impact driver
Another tool that can help remove stripped screws is an impact driver. An impact driver is a manual tool that drives a screwdriver further into the screw with the use of weight and spring. Take note that this is only for furniture or wooden pieces with a sturdy construction and not for pieces with electronics because this can cause damage to sensitive electronic equipment. Avoid cheap models with a stiff spring, since these need forceful hammer blows to work.
Set the impact driver to loosen screws. There are different models of impact drivers. Some have a switch while some you can set the direction of the turn by twisting its handle. Hold the tool in place. Attach a drill bit of the correct size to the end of your driver. Place it in the screw and hold the driver in place at a right angle (90 degrees). Grip the driver but keep your hand clear of the end.
Hit the end sharply with a heavy mallet. You may try a rubber mallet to prevent scratching the end of the driver. Repeat the steps mentioned until the screw is loose. Once the screw is loose, use a regular screwdriver to remove it.
Removing a stripped screw can be very hard to do especially if it has been stuck and has wasted its head. You can remove this using different tools and the most effective are regular screwdrivers and impact drivers. Learn how to use these tools to be able to remove stripped screws and more.