How To Remove Broken Screw – Useful Ways For You

Last weekend, I was drilling a screw into an alder wood for my latest woodworking project. I must have drilled it too hard because the small screw broke off when it was just about in the middle of the wood. You can see what a problem it was for me. However, having worked with lots of woodworking projects in the past, I faced the same problem once or twice before. I knew a few tricks on how to remove broken screw.

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A broken screw is the one where its head had been sheared off. It’s difficult to get the screw out as you no longer have the head which a screwdriver can grip. Luckily, there are several ways for you to deal with a broken screw. I’ll provide the easiest tricks in this guide.

When the screw’s head twists and is cut from its body, you have several options to approach the problem. These options include:

Method 1 - Leave It in Place

Sometimes, there’s no need to actually get the screw. If it can’t compromise your project, the best way to approach the problem might be to just leave the broken screw in its place. The only problem with this is that you will still leave a hole in place and the screw might be showing, affecting the aesthetics of your project.

Tools You Will Need

For this method, here are the tools that you will need:​

Cutting plier

A plier is a handy tool that is used to hold things firmly. However, its head does not only have a gripping jaw but also a cutting edge which you can use to cut protruding screws. Choose a plier that will suit the diameter of your screw.


Die Grinder

A die grinder is used to grind, sand, hone, polish, or lap different materials, particularly metal like screws. You can use this to cut anything.


File

A file is a tool that’s used to remove amounts of materials from workpieces. It has an abrasive surface such as silicon carbide and diamond grain that allows you to refine surfaces.​

Step-by-Step Instructions

If the broken screw is not protruding, you can leave it be. However, if there’s a part of the screw above the wooden surface, you will have to cut at least that part. To do that, follow the steps below.​

Step 1 - Prepare your tool

To do the job, you have three options: cutting plier, die grinder, or file. You can choose one and prepare it before you proceed to doing the job.

Step 2 - Cut the protruding part

Using your chosen tool, you can cut the protruding part or grind it to make flush. Make sure that you do this carefully so that you will not damage the wood. It’s better that the cutting plier and die grinder don’t make contact with the wood. If there’s a small protruding part left, use a file.​


Method 2 - Grab and Reverse the Screw Out

If the screw hasn’t been secured to tightly on the wood and the tip is protruding, you can easily grab it and remove it. You just need a good pair of pliers or drill chuck to do the job.

Tools You Will Need

For method 2, here are the tools that you need:

Locking pliers

Locking pliers are used to lock things into position with an over-center action. On one side, it has a bold which you can use to adjust the jaws’ space. On the other side, there’s the handle which sometimes includes a lever that you can push to unlock the plier.


Drill chuck

A drill chuck is a specialized tool which is quite similar to a clamp. It holds objects with radial symmetry. You can mount it on the spindle which will rotate with its headstock.

Step-by-step Instructions

Again, you can only use this method if there’s a protruding part of the screw. Follow the steps below:

Step 1 - Choose a tool

A locking plier or a drill chuck can be used to perform the task. You can purchase only one of them, or you can prepare both, in the case one will not work out.

Step 2 - Latch or lock the tool to the screw

Latch or lock your plier or drill chuck to the protruding shank. Make sure that the tool is in place, so you don’t end up rounding off the screw. The better grip you have on the screw, the better it is.

Step 3 - Reverse out

If you are using the plier, apply pressure and manually turn it in a reverse direction to remove the screw. If you are using the drill chuck, you don’t have to use as much effort. You only have to set the drill to reverse, and you will eventually extract the broken screw.


Method 3 - Extract the Screw

Screw extractors might be the most reliable solution to broken screws. They come with a left-handed thread that allows you to put a drill into reverse and drill a hole into the screw and extract it.

Tools You Will Need

For method 3, you need the following tool:

Screw extractors

how to remove a broken screw - screw extractor

Screw Extractors

A screw extractor is a special tool that helps you drill a hole into the broken screw. When you flip the tool, it’ll bite in the screw. Thus, you can pull it out more easily. Buying a whole set of screw extractors is highly recommended as you will not have to worry about what size you will need for your broken screw.

Step-By-Step Instructions

This is the quickest and most reliable solution. If you choose this method, follow the steps below:

Step 1 - Pick the right tool size

Screw extractor comes in different sizes. You must choose one that’s smaller than the diameter of your screw. However, it should not be too small as to not create the needed impact.

Step 2 - Drill a hole in the screw

Position the screw extractor at the center of the screw and put it in reverse. Push it downwards. You need to be able to drill a hole inside the screw. Also, the screw extractor needs to be embedded in it.

Step 3 - Reverse out

Once the screw extractor is embedded on the screw, you need to set it on reverse. This time, you pull it upwards so that you can extract the screw from the wood. You don’t need much effort to perform the job. The tool will help you remove it neatly.


Method 4 - Bore a Hole in the Wood

You can also fill a hole left by the broken screw using a wood boring extractor. This method works perfectly for small and short screws, which are more difficult to extract when broken. You must remember that wood extractors can only work up to 2 inches deep. If the screw is too deep inside the wood, this method might not be as useful.

You can also do this method with a wood plug cutters, counterbores, and countersinks. These can create bigger holes but not deeper.

Tools You Will Need

For method 4, you need the following tools:

Wood boring extractor

This tool can be used to create a hole into a wooden surface. A wood boring extractor, however, can only reach up to 2 inches deep.


Wood plug cutter

A plug cutter can create up to .5 inch deep hole. It usually has a built-in shank which makes drilling easier.


Countersink

A countersink is designed to be attached to a tapered drill bit. However, without the drill bit, one can use with a makeshift shank to cut a section of the wood and make a taper around the broken screw.


Counterbore

A counterbore works the same was as the countersink. The only difference is that it does not make a taper. Instead, it creates a flat-faced hole.

Step-by-step Instructions

If you haven’t put the screw deeper than 2 inches into the wood, then you can use this method. To do so, follow the steps below:

Step 1 - Choose a tool

There are many possible tools you can use to perform the job-- wood boring extractors, wood plug cutters, counterbores, and countersinks. All of them can perform the job neatly. However, wood boring extractors are the most recommended tool.

Step 2 - Position the tool

Once you’ve chosen a tool, position it at a perpendicular position with the screw. This part is crucial as you will end up damaging the wood if you wrongly position the tool and start creating a hole. Moreover, if you accidentally make contact with the screw while boring, the tool might break.

Step 3 - Bore a hole

Start the drill and make a hole around the screw. Make sure that you don’t stray from your original position.

Step 4 - Remove the screw

Once you’ve created the hole, you can simply extract the broken screw.

Step 5 - Fill the hole

Your problem next is how to fill the hole. You don’t want to leave it hallowed. You can use the wood boring extractor to make a plug. Then, you can use that plug to fill the hole you’ve made.​


Method 5 - Pull the Screw Out

This method might require the most effort. However, it also uses the cheapest tool, a two-part epoxy glue. The process is not complex, too, and there’s minimal damage in case you fail to follow the process well.

Tools You Will Need

For method 5, you need the following tools:

Two-part epoxy glue

A two-part epoxy glue creates a strong bond. You can use one that’s designed for metal like J-B Weld. You can’t just buy other types of glue as they will not be strong enough to make this trick successful.


Nut

A nut is a fastener that comes with a threaded hole. You can use it in conjunction of the mating bolt and fasten parts together. For this method, however, you will use it to stick to the protruding screw.


Wrench

You can use a wrench to grip the nut and turn it so as to remove the broken screw.

Step-by-Step Guide

You can go creative and use all available resources. You can use an epoxy glue and pull the screw out. Follow the steps below:​

Step 1 - Choose the right nut size

It’s important that the nut you will use will perfectly fit the screw. Try fitting several sizes around the protruding screw to find the right size.

Step 2 - Glue a nut to the screw

Prepare a nut and put an epoxy glue around the inner circle. Then, carefully position and attach it to the protruding screw. Make sure that the glue is not stuck on the wooden surface. Otherwise, it will get stuck, and you’ll face a bigger problem.

Step 3 - Dry out the glue

Wait for several minutes and let the glue completely dry before you proceed to the next step.

Step 4 - Unscrew the screw

Use a wrench and attach it to the nut. Then, manually turn the nut so that you can remove the screw.​


Final Thought

What method do you think is most effective? Remember that there’s no perfect way to removing a broken screw. Choose a method that will fit best to the kind of situation you have.

If you can add more methods to removing a broken screw, feel free to leave a comment below.​

Ethan Johnson
 

I’m Ethan Johnson. I’m a mechanical engineer, and I’m passionate about Home Improvement. I hope my skills and experience can help you remodel your home by turning simple, inexpensive, and innovative ideas into easy tasks that you can DIY! So no need to go too far, just read on and you’ll be ready to get the ball rolling.

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