There are hundreds—if not thousands—of screws hidden in the walls, ceilings, and floors of your home. And that’s where they’re supposed to be… until you decide it’s time to tear down those walls to open the space, add-on another room, or carry out some other type of renovation.
Then taking all those screws back out can be a pain, especially if they’re old and worn. Coming across a stripped screw can press pause on your entire project.
How are you supposed to get a screw out of the wall if your drill isn’t doing the trick? First of all, don’t panic. All you need is a little tool called a screw extractor.
If you’ve never used one of these tools before, that’s okay. We’ve put together this guide to show you how to use a screw extractor, so make sure you keep reading below.
Step 1: Get the Right Gear
Start by gathering all the necessary supplies (you may need to make a quick trip to your local hardware store if you don’t already have a screw extractor in your toolbox). Make sure you wear the proper safety equipment. -It is important to wear head protection when working to avoid any serious injuries. Wearing safety gears is a must on any jobs you will be working on. Extracting an old screw can send small shards of metal flying in all directions, and getting a piece in your eye or skin can be dangerous and painful.
Your safety should always be your first priority, so don’t just leave this gear at the store in an attempt to save money. A hospital bill will cost a lot more than buying those goggles.
Here’s a quick list of everything else you should have on hand:
- Safety goggles
- Gloves (you should also wear a long-sleeved shirt)
- Power drill
- Extractor bits
- Center Punch
There are many different types of screw extractor tools out there, but you should look for a double-sided extractor bit. These bits have a boring tool on one side and a reverse threaded extracting tool on the other.
This type is the best screw extractor because it fits into a normal power drill. This means you won’t have to use a wrench or another tool to hold the extractor in place while unscrewing by hand. Extractor bits allow you to pull out a stripped screw in a matter of seconds.
Step 2: Mark the Screw Head
Grab your center punch and set the tip in the exact middle of the screw head. Then give the top a good smack with your hammer. The pressure will create a small hole in the screw that will help guide the extractor bit in as you screw.
But don’t use too much strength when you strike the center punch. Remember, you’re just trying to make a small dent, so you don’t need to go overboard.
Step 3: Find the Right Size Screw Extractor
Since screws come in all different shapes and sizes, you’ll need to find an extractor that’s the right size for the screw you’re working on. The key is to pick an extractor that has a slightly smaller diameter than the screw head.
If you aren’t able to remove the screw with the extractor size you chose, switch to the next size up and try again. The bigger extractor should be able to pull out the screw quickly and easily.
Step 4: Add a Drop of Oil
Before you start drilling, squirt a small drop of thread-cutting oil onto the screw head. The oil will lubricate the metal, which will:
- Protect your extractor bit from wearing out too fast
- Make the extractor grind through the metal easier
- Speed up the drilling process
Again, you should be able to find this oil at your local hardware store. However, if you can’t you can try using a dot of motor oil instead.
If you don’t have any other oil around the house, that’s okay too. You can extract the screw without oil, but it will make the job easier for you.
Is the screw you’re trying to get out rusted into place? You may need to buy some penetrating oil as well. This oil will interact with the rust and loosen the screw.
Step 5: Grind Down the Screw Head
Put the extractor bit into the power drill with the boring side facing out. Then drill directly into the center hole you created earlier until you’ve ground down about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch into the screw head.
Do this slowly and don’t add too much pressure. Depending on the type of extractor you have, you may also need to put the drill in reverse.
Step 6: Extract the Screw
Take the extractor bit out and flip it around so you can use the extracting side. Align the tip with the hole you just made and, with the power drill still in reverse, wind the extractor into the screw. As you continue to add pressure and drill, the screw should unwind from the wood and come out fast.
How to Use a Screw Extractor and Get Back to Your Renovation
Coming across stripped screws should be expected during a renovation, but that doesn’t mean it has to put the entire project on hold. Once you know how to use a screw extractor and follow the tips in this guide, you can pull those old screws out and keep working without falling behind schedule.
Do you want to learn some other helpful construction that’ll make your renovation that much easier?
We’ve got you covered! Don’t hesitate to take a look at the rest of our blog today!