Life’s method of kicking you when you’re already down is stripped screws. An approaching repair being held prisoner by a jammed fastener is enough to drive anybody insane. But now is the time to gather your wits and address the issue with our helpful tips and tactics for extracting even the most hopelessly stripped screws.
While it is simple to use sheer force to remove hard screws in furniture and heavy equipment, consumer electronics products such as laptops, cellphones, and PCs need a softer technique. Here’s how to carefully remove stuck screws without hurting your expensive electronics.
Don’t Let Threadlockers Ruin Your Day
Screws strengthened with thread-locking compound are often used to fasten electronic gadgets with aluminum or metal casings. Low-strength thread-locking adhesives are used by manufacturers to prevent screws from shaking free while simultaneously allowing for simple removal using standard hand tools. However, threadlockers may harden with time, causing tiny screws to peel or become difficult to remove.
Using a hair dryer on low heat to warm the approximate region of the recalcitrant screw will weaken the adhesive bond sufficiently to allow for easy removal. For screws in metal chassis, maintain the temperature below 200°F. Screws secured in brass inserts inserted in plastic molding should not be heated over 140°F.
How to Remove a Stripped Screw: Low Effort Approach
If none of the above recommended remedies worked, you have a legitimately stripped screw. Although dire circumstances need desperate methods, it pays to first explore common-sense answers. If you’ve been using electric screwdrivers, consider switching to hand tools. Manual screwdrivers not only enable you to apply torque in a controlled way, but the greater feedback given is also essential in preventing additional damage to the screw head. Mangling stuck screws with electric screwdrivers is deceptively simple. There are a few notable exceptions to this rule, such as DeWalt’s gyroscopic screwdriver.
You may try a screwdriver tip one size bigger, depending on how much the screw head has been twisted. This works with Phillips head, hex, Torx, and pentalobe security screws often used in electrical devices. The wider profile of the tips may be sufficient to grab the stripped screw head.
2. Upsize the Tip
When you already have a stripped screw, the instruction to use the correct tip does not apply. In such circumstances, a slotted screwdriver of the suitable size may assist you in unscrewing a twisted Phillips head fastening. A Torx screwdriver tip’s sharper profiles may also give just enough grip to extract a rounded hex head screw. This, however, will cause premature wear on the screwdriver tip. Use a tool that you don’t mind possibly damaging.
3. Try a Different Tip
You’re stuck with a stripped screw, which was most likely made of an extremely soft substance. This also makes hammering a brand-new slot into the screw head with a slotted screwdriver a breeze. This technique, you may convert any stripped screw into a slotted screw. For obvious reasons, avoid this path when working with devices with plastic chassis.
4. Every Screw’s Slotted if You Are Brave Enough
Although there are a dizzying array of screws in the hardware industry, we’ll classify them into two major types based on whether their heads protrude from the screw holes. Countersunk or flat-head cap screws are fasteners having heads that are flush with their surrounds (FHCS). Such screws cannot be easily manipulated with pliers or other screw extraction equipment. In such situation, we offer a separate instruction on retrieving stripped countersunk screws.
How to Unscrew Stripped Screws With Pliers
The second wide group of screws includes socket-head (SHCS) and button-head cap screw (BHCS) variants with heads that protrude beyond the screw hole. This leaves enough exposed screw head area for leverage to release jammed screws. These fasteners are typically seen on desktop computers and other big electrical devices.
This procedure is most effective with socket-head screws. A pair of pliers can easily grasp the cylindrical screw head and withdraw it at an appropriate angle. The domed shape of button-head fasteners is difficult to work with unless your pliers have sharp serrations for better grip. A excellent set of pliers is also made of hardened metal alloys, allowing them to dig firmly into screw heads.
1. Regular Pliers
With the pliers tightly gripped, twist the screw counterclockwise. The extended lever arm of the pliers generates substantially more torque, making it simpler to remove tough screws.
Screws that are very seized may need more gripping effort. This is an issue with standard pliers, particularly if the operator lacks grip strength. This is when locking pliers come in handy. The operator does not have to apply consistent gripping force with these pliers. Simply set the needed jaw distance and gripping force before to use, and the smart mechanical design does the work without the user having to move a muscle.
2. Locking Pliers
While pliers are useful, locking pliers are much more useful, nothing matches the Engineer PZ-58 pliers. These are specialist tools designed just for removing stripped screws. With strong serrations running along both axes of contact, the jaws are specifically designed to grab screw heads from the top.
3. Engineer PZ-58 Pliers
The Engineer PZ-58’s unique tip shape, with a hollowed recess and flat grind, enables it to firmly grab even domed and low-profile screw heads from the top. The ability to grab screws from the top is essential in small spaces where a horizontal grip is not possible. These pliers aren’t inexpensive, but they can get rid of any screw that isn’t perfectly flat with the surface. A valuable addition to your toolbox.
Stripped screws occur in a variety of sizes and degrees of severity, and we’ve explored treatments ranging from simple tactics to heavy-duty repairs for the worst-case circumstances. It’s better to prevent stripping screws in the first place by investing in a good pair of screwdrivers. The simplest approach to avoid this is to avoid using worn or incorrectly sized screwdrivers.
Stripped Screws? Not a Big Deal Anymore
Stripped screws come in all sizes and severity, and we have covered solutions ranging from low-effort tricks to heavy-duty fixes for the worst-case scenarios. However, it’s wiser to avoid stripping screws in the first place by investing in a set of quality screwdrivers. Avoiding worn or improperly sized screwdrivers is the best way to prevent this from ever happening.
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