A screw with a stripped head & a special challenge

Central_ValleyOctober 6, 2013

This is not a woodworking problem -- the screw holds together the case of a chainsaw -- but woodworking seems to be the most suitable topic to post in.

The challenge is that the screw is recessed in a well about 1/2" deep. It's a common design for tool cases with a left and a right half held together by screws. This makes the standard extraction technique impractical; inserting a drill bit in the well blocks the view so that I can't see what I'm doing. It makes most of the alternatives I've read about impossible, even in theory.

Have you successfully removed a screw in this situation? How did you do it?

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I'd use a small drill bit, bore about 1/4 to 3/8 inch into the screw head and use an 'easy-out' to extract the screw. The instructions that come with the easy-out will suggest a drill bit size.
Before doing this, though, are you positive you are using the correct size screwdriver? A #1 phillips will often work on a #2 sized screw, but when either is a bit worn it can result in slippage. Assuming you are dealing with a phillps head screw, make sure you are using a screwdriver of the correct size that has a good condition tip. Also, a good deal of inward force onto the screw head will give the screwdriver a better chance of getting a purchase.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 7:35PM
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Would it help to put a wide rubber band between the screwdriver and the screw, and then apply that "good deal of inward force" so that you stretch out the rubber band to be thinner? The idea is that the rubber band is supposed to create a grippy surface.
I've seen that suggested on Pinterest, but I don't know if it works.

Then slow, small turns--think 1/32 of an inch or something. I find that to help w/ stripped screw heads; as long as I don't try to do the whole thing at once, I can actually get somewhere. Eventually, LOL!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 3:23PM
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As a mechanic, I had access to or owned many special tools. The first one I would reach for in your situation would be an impact screwdriver---like the one on the left in the link(manual operation)

Those are reversible, but are mainly used for removal of stubborn screws/bolts.

If that failed, using a small drill bit, followed by a larger one that will remove the head of the screw would be choice #2.

Once the head is gone, the case is able to be separated and heat applied judiciously to use a pair of vise grip pliers to remove the screw shank.

Here is a link that might be useful: Impact screwdriver

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 11:16AM
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