How To Remove a Stuck Screw From Wood

Screw Extractor

Screw extractors look similar to drill bits, and they come in sets of varying sizes and configurations.

These tools are specifically used to help you remove screws, and otherwise extract things from wood which have gotten stuck or lodged in, and you can’t manually remove them.

Screw extractor

They are intended to remove screws with damaged or sheared heads that you can’t remove with a drill or a screwdriver due to the damage on the screw’s head.

You will first look at the screw head to determine what type it is (slotted, Philips, pozi, etc.)

You’ll then match the screw extractor as closely as possible to the screw head design (the extractor tells you the drill bit size on it).

Using the drill bit, you’ll drill directly into the damaged screw heads.

You’ll then place the screw extractor into the pilot hole, and tapping the screw with a hammer, you’ll make sure it is secure.

Using a set of pliers, you can get the screw extractor to turn the screw to the left (to loosen it).

While doing this, the teeth of the screw extractor will continually dig into the pilot hole to help you remove the screw.

There are some extractors which do work with electric screwdrivers, so this will obviously make the process a little faster (and less manual) than using the pliers, drill bit, and hammer.

Drilling

Using a drill, you will use a metal drill bit which is a similar size as the screw head, place the bit on the screw head, on a lower speed and higher torque setting.

Doing this, you’ll drill down into the wood deep enough to remove the screw (so you have to drill as deep as the screw’s length).

You’ll then patch the wood where prior to being able to place a new screw there. You can use an epoxy to patch the area before changing the screw.

Hammer it Out

For screws which are especially stubborn and are not budging, you can always try using a hammer to help you remove it from the wood.

You’ll use one hand to keep the screwdriver in place on the screw head.

With the other hand, you’ll use your hammer, to tap on the back of the screwdriver while turning it, to see if the extra inertia will help you drill the screw out of the wood.

It’s similar to how an impact driver works. It relies on added pressure or force to help dislodge the items that are stuck, to help you remove them.

The hammer is going to serve as the extra force you need, to help you turn the screwdriver which has gotten stuck in the wood for any number of reasons.

The hammer’s impact is going to slightly help dislodge and knock the screw loose, as you are trying to remove it.

With most screws, you will find that this is going to do the trick.

If you can’t do it on your own or need a little more force, you can always ask someone to help you by either using the hammer to apply the force or using the screwdriver to unscrew the screw, while you apply the force with the hammer.

Remove Paint

What does paint have to do with screws getting stuck in wood? Plenty, actually.

Especially if the paint is old and set it, it serves as a glue base that is holding your screws in place so you can’t remove them easily.

To remove the paint you’ll use:

  • A chisel to scrape the paint away
  • Alternatively, a razor knife works well to help remove the old paint that’s stuck on if you don’t have a chisel handy
  • Clear the outer perimeter of the screw (where the head and hardware meet) of paint
  • Clear the slot which holds the screwdriver tip of any paint that’s stuck on the surface

Once you’ve cleared the area of paint, see if you can use a screwdriver to remove the screws. If the heads aren’t damaged or warped, this will usually suffice to loosen and remove them.

Paint Tip (Follow up)… Use a Lubricant

In the event you couldn’t remove the screw simply by removing the paint that was stuck onto the screw head and perimeter, adding a lubricant base can further help dislodge the screws and loosen them, making it easier for you to remove it.

Using something like WD40 or Liquid Wrench (you can even use vegetable oil and acetone, as these are the primary ingredients in these lubricants), spray the screws and cover them profusely with the lubricant base.

This will help to remove any rust that you can’t see below the surface and also help create some wiggle room between the screws and the wood, to help make the removal process a little easier.

Let the lubricant sit for a few minutes to work its way into the wood, then use a screwdriver to remove the screws.

*** You can also use a lubricant to remove the screws even if paint hasn’t gotten stuck over the screw head.

If you can visible see rust, or if it is an older screw, you can apply the lubricant spray onto the wood and screw, to see if this will help remove the wood from the panel where it has been stuck.

The Elements/Weather

If you’re looking for the best options of how to remove a stuck screw from wood, there are several things you can try.

The first one being the elements or your external weather conditions.

Wood is vulnerable as the weather changes, and as temperatures rise/fall. Therefore, you can manipulate the temperatures where the wood is located, to help you remove the screws which are stuck in it.

How can you use temperature manipulation?

  • Using a blowdryer at the highest setting, turn it on in the location where the screws are stuck
  • The wood’s pores will open up as it gets hotter
  • As the wood’s pores are loosening, you’ll need to have your screwdriver handy to remove the screws

Use a hairdryer in each of the areas where there are screws that have gotten stuck to help you loosen and remove them from the wood.

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