Friday , September 19 2014
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Shop Tip: How to Remove a Stripped Machine Screw with a Vise

Here’s a quick tip to bring in the new year. A novel way to remove a stripped or stubborn machine screw using a vise.

The idea is simple, a stripped screw tends to lead to problems with the screwdriver “camming out”. To prevent this, pinch the screw and the screwdriver (or in this case, the screwdriver bit or “blade”) between the jaws of a vise. Keep the jaws just tight enough to prevent the screwdriver from camming out as it turns. As the screw starts to rotate, loosen the jaws slightly to allow for it to extract.

Here’s a quick video of the process in action.

In situations where it’s hard to grip the handle of the screwdriver (because it’s in a vise) I recommend using a screwdriver with a square or hex shank so you can get a wrench on it for leverage, or use a bit or blade like I show in the picture and video. Don’t try vise grips on a round shank screwdriver, you’ll just muck it up. Some screwdrivers have a round shank with hex portion (called a “hex bolster”) where the shank meets the handle. This little hex bolster is ideal for getting a little extra leverage when needed.

Screwdrivers with a hex bolster come in handy more often than you might think … if you remember to use it! I’ve started replacing all my cheap, damaged, or worn out screwdrivers with better ones that have a hex bolster near the handle. Here’s a nice set on Amazon by Klein (click image).

There are obviously other methods of removing a stripped screw. Two of which have already been mentioned in responses to this video on YouTube. For instance, one viewer suggested cutting a slit in the head of the stripped screw to use a flat blade screwdriver, while another viewer suggested using an impact wrench (or the impact setting on a cordless drill)  which I have used with great success also.

Lets see how many other ways we can think of to remove a stripped screw. If you have a method, please leave it via a comment on the forum (see link below).

And Happy New Year!

 

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About Tyler

Tyler is a hobby machinist and 3D printing aficionado. He teaches computer programming and web development at Highline near Seattle. Tyler founded Projects In Metal in 2008 because he was frustrated by the lack of free plans available for hobby machinists.

14 comments

  1. Tyler you seemed a little suprised with the simple cheap impact driver.  It just does not seem expensive enough to possibly be any good!!!!!  Use mine pretty regular.

     

    Vise is a good idea but I put the tool in the drill chuck on a drill press and hold it with quill pressure.  This allows for handy use of extensions etc.  Turn with what ever is mandatory and fits at the moment.    Wink

  2. I think I was more surprised that I hadn’t heard of it before. I grew up with a dad and a grandpa who had thousands of tools. My dad worked construction for 20+ years and my grandpa worked on the railroad and was an accomplished handyman who built his first house with mostly hand tools.

    So to find something that is apparently common that I never noticed my dad or grandpa use was a bit of a surprise to me.

    I never thought to use a drill press either. Thanks for the tip!

  3. what I have done is place the part on a drill press in the vise. now I can chuck the screw bit tip in the drill. while maintaining pressure via the drillpress quill I turn the chuck by hand and unscrew the stubborn bugger.

  4. Someone else mentioned this technique earlier. Perhaps in the video comments on YouTube. It’s a really good idea as well. Thanks for reminding me!