Removing screwed-up screws

When you can neither finish driving nor back out a screw, these two options save the day.

  • Stripped screw head: Burnish it and back it out

    Using the burnishing tip of a Pro Grabit screw remover [Sources], bore a shallow, smooth countersink into the head to match the threaded extractor tip.

  • Backing it out

    Flip the extractor end-for-end, insert the threaded tip in the burnished socket, and then use reverse gear, firm pressure, and slow speed to back the screw out of the wood. You can now drive a new screw in the same hole.

  • Broken screw: Bore around it, plug the hole, and start over

    To use a hollow-tube extractor [B] in a handheld drill, first make a hardwood guide block by boring a hole matching the extractor's diameter.

  • Bore around screw

    Center the guide block over the broken screw and clamp it in place. With the drill in forward gear, bore about 14 " deep. Remove the guide block.

  • Remove screw

    Switch to reverse and bore until the plug either breaks free on its own, or you've reached a sufficient depth to pop it loose with a small screwdriver.

  • Plug hole

    Glue in a dowel to fill the hole, leaving it slightly proud of the surface. Allow it to dry.

  • Drive a new screw

    Sand the dowel smooth, redrill the pilot hole and countersink, and drive a new screw.

    Pro Grabit screw remover: 3-piece set, no. 148984, Woodcraft, 800-225-1153,
    Hollow-tube screw extractor: 14 " diameter, no. 124210, 516" diameter, no. 124211; 38" diameter, no. 124212, Woodcraft.

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