How To Remove Stripped Screws: 5 Techniques That Work For Wood, Metal & Plastic

Even if you are a DIY expert or carpenter, then a stripped screw will be your worst nightmare, and you have probably come across them from time to time.

A stripped screw is basically just a screw with a head that is damaged to the point where your drill or screwdriver cannot get enough grip to extract it.

This often happens when you are working too fast, or using the wrong screw bit when screwing, which is more common than you may think.

There really is nothing worse, no matter how hard you push the screwdriver, or your drill bit into the screw, there will be no friction and no way to move it. So, what are you supposed to do?

Luckily, we are here to help! Stripped screws no longer have to slow down your DIY projects completely, as we have a few tips and tricks to remove these screws with ease and speed.

With our list of five different ways to remove stripped screws, you have a variety of options to use, depending on how far the screw is embedded, and depending on which materials you are working with.

5 Ways To Remove Stripped Screws:

If you are working on a DIY project, then the last thing you want is for the screw to get damaged, with its head still sticking out. If this happens, you will need to extract or remove them! To do this, you can use a myriad of different methods, such as pliers or locking pliers to get them out.

However, if the head is flush, and is stuck lower into the material’s surface level, then you may struggle to get it out completely! Luckily, we have some of the easiest methods to remove stripped screws, so you can try one of our techniques found below.

The Rubber Band Method

You may be surprised to find that you can use a rubber band to remove screws with simplicity!

These work to extract screws much easier, all you have to do is place a rubber band over the screw’s head and then use a screwdriver on top of that to remove the screw.

This works due to the fact that the rubber band will work to create friction, and can essentially become the replacement for the stripped or damaged screw drive.

The method is often a successful one, but you will need a lot of patience, and lots and lots of rubber bands, as you may break the first few you try:

The method is often a successful one, but you will need a lot of patience, and lots and lots of rubber bands, as you may break the first few you try: ANPHSIN 60 Pieces Super Size Rubber Bands- Large Heavy Duty Latex Rubber Bands.

Screw Extraction Pliers

One of the best and easiest ways to extract stripped screws is with screw extraction pliers.

The best options for these are Vampliers. Our favorites to remove stripped screws are: 

Vampliers Pro

Vampliers Needle Nose Pliers

These pliers are specifically designed for stripped screws and ones that are stuck into certain materials. This is because they have sharper jaws than regular pliers in order to get the maximum grip onto the screw head that is sticking out of the material. 

As good as these are, they actually work best if the screw is not completely in the wood, as if the screw head has become flush into the surface of the wood, or whatever material you are using, then it will be much harder to get a grip onto the screw with locking pliers. 

Using A Damaged Screw Extractor

If you do a lot of DIY projects, then you will most likely come across the problem of a stripped screw fairly frequently.

Sometimes, the screw can become so embedded that it is impossible to get out with some of the other methods. If this is the case, then you may need a tool like this Damaged Screw Extractor Kit:

These damaged screw kits come with multiple attachments for your impact driver, with a drill bit on one side, and specialty extractors on the other side.

This means that you can remove a stripped screw with just two steps, utilizing the specifically designed attachments to help get it out from the wood, or surface.

All you have to do is use the drill bit side in order to create a hole in the screw head, then flip the drill bit and use the screw extractor to loosen and pull out the screw.

What we love about these tools is that they make removing a screw so easy, and can be done without further tightening the damaged or stripped screws! 

Cutting A Slot In The Screw

Another simple way of removing a stripped screw is by cutting a slot into the screw head in order to create a new screw drive. Once you have cut a slot and created a notch, you will be able to remove the screw with ease with just a slotted screwdriver.

If you are unsure how to cut a slot, or which tool to use to do so, this will depend on the size of the screw, and how far into the surface it has gotten. If your screw head is still sticking out of the wood or other surface, then you can use a handsaw to cut a slot.

However, if the head of the screw is already flush, or inside the surface of the material, then you may have to use a cutting disk, or a small Dremel tool to work a slot into it:

If there are much larger screws, then you can use an angle grinder to cut a slot: Once you have made your slots in the embedded screw, then you will be able to use a slotted screwdriver to remove it. 

Keep The Screw

Finally, we would like to mention that sometimes, it is best just to keep the damaged screw inside the material.

In some cases, it can create much more of a mess to try and remove the screw from the material, and if you are working on a DIY woodworking project, then sometimes you can just hide the screw or disguise it within your project.

In some situations, you can afford to keep the screw in, and either cut the screw so that it is flush with the surface or bend the screw to keep it flush inside the surface. 

Removing Stripped Screws From Wood, Metal and Plastic:

Whilst some of the above techniques are highly useful for removing stripped screws from many materials, if you have a specific surface in mind that you are screwing into, then you may need to consider using a method that works specifically for that material.

How To Remove A Stripped Screw From Wood

Removing a stripped screw from wood can be a little tricky, as you probably do not want to damage the surface of the wood.

If you have a damaged screw head or one that is flush with the surface of the wood, then it may be best to invest in a Damaged Screw Extractor Kit. 

With the damaged screw extractor, simply place the tip of it in the screw, and spin the stripped screw counterclockwise while pressing down.

When doing this, you should feel the extractor biting into the screw head and getting a good grip. Then, turn the extractor gradually, until you can back the screw out of the wood enough to take it away with pliers.

If you are using wood, then we advise you not to reuse the original hole for a new screw. This can make the joint weak, and so you should fix the hole before using or driving the new screw in a different location.

However, with woodworking, sometimes you can afford to simply leave the damaged screw in the wood, as this can be a much simpler solution than extracting, and you are less likely to damage the wood.

How To Remove A Stripped Screw From Metal

When it comes to metal, you should be careful not to damage the project you are working on, as this can be easily done with some of the more abrasive methods such as cutting a notch in the screw or cutting it off completely.

For metal, we do not recommend cutting a notch in the screw or using power tools as you may damage the material. Instead, go for a non-abrasive method, like the rubber band method. Just make sure that you work slowly, and carefully.

How To Remove A Stripped Screw From Plastic

When working with plastic, you should also exercise caution, as this material is incredibly soft and flexible, and so if you remove a stripped screw from this surface, you may not be able to reuse the hole you drilled after the screw is gone.

Therefore, we could recommend that you are extremely gentle when extracting a stripped screw from plastic, and you should try to avoid using tools such as an angle grinder, or hammering the screw, as this will cause more damage than good.

Some people advise heating up the screwdriver when working with plastic, and pushing it into the screw, and leaving it to cool.

Once cooled, use the screwdriver to slowly turn the screw out. If it does not work at first, then try increasing the heat until it does!


Finding your screws that have become stripped can often be frustrating, and can prevent you from moving forward with your projects and DIY tasks.

Fortunately, we have provided various different methods and techniques, along with all of the tools that you need to remove stripped screws embedded into your materials. 

Whilst some take a little extra patience, or drill bit attachments, all of the above will get those screws out in no time, and get the job done.

That being said, we would definitely recommend having a pair of screw extraction pliers: in your toolbox for the future, as this problem is one you will come across many times.

Check out our related article how to fix a stripped screw hole 6 different ways.

Dean Luoma

As a long-time homeowner, Dean has been working on his own home projects for over 30 years. He is a licensed real estate agent in the state of Minnesota, helping clients with the buying and selling of their homes.

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