How to Remove a Screw With No Head From Wood, Metal, Etc.

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Many carpenters and woodworkers probably encountered the unfortunate experience of needing to remove screws that are missing their heads. That undoubtedly is a frustrating thing to deal with, especially if you lack the right tools.

Fortunately, there are a couple of easy ways how to remove a screw with no head. Our expert woodworkers will share each method in this guide:

Removing Screws With No Head: Steps to Do

Stripped or broken screws are, unfortunately, a common scenario that any person who deals with woodwork or home DIY projects. 

Using a manual screwdriver on a screw with no head would be challenging since there is almost no way to get a good grip.

What we recommend using is a screw extractor, which is the easiest tool to use to remove a screw. Here are the steps you can follow to utilize this tool properly:

screws with broken heads
  1. Drill a hole at the center of the screw head. Try using a smaller drill bit if it won’t drill through properly. Remember to be gentle to avoid breaking the screw head.
  2. Using a hammer, push the extractor into the hole.
  3. Turn the extractor counterclockwise using a screwdriver or drill bit. If it doesn’t work, apply lubricant or tap the extractor harder.
  4. As an alternative, you can use pliers. Use the pliers to grip the shank’s end, then twist to remove the screw.

13 Effective Methods to Extract Screws with a Broken Head

Here are other 13 effective methods you can try on even the most stubborn screw.

1. Screw Extractor

screw extractor

The perfect tool that can go against any broken or stripped screw head is a screw extractor. This specific tool removes any stubborn broken screw that refuses to budge using other methods.

To achieve optimal results, it is essential to select the correct size for the task. Load the extractor onto your drill, inspect it, and tighten it securely to enhance the grip. This step is crucial for improving the performance and efficiency of the extractor during the job.

Note that screw extractors counter threaded screws. Thus, they should be set in the opposite or reverse direction.

2. Hammer

claw hammer

Using hammers to remove the screw with no head is undoubtedly tricky but possible.

You can hammer in a screwdriver to get a firm grip. Place the end of the tool on the head of the threaded screw and hammer away.

Ensure that you do so carefully and gently for your safety — you wouldn’t want to break anything. Applying enough force would be enough to lodge the end of the screwdriver to the inside of the screw.

That gives you a good grasp on the screw, making it possible to twist and pull out.

3. Dremel's Cutting Wheel

dremel for cutting

Finding the right tools to remove a broken screw is sometimes the tricky part. Not everyone is equipped with the appropriate extractor bit or manual tool. Often enough, you need to make do with what you already have.

If you have a Dremel [1], you can use the cutting wheel attached to it. Put the cutting wheel on top of the screw head and make a slit without damaging its surrounding.

4. Weld a Nut

welding a nut

Welding a nut is undoubtedly another effective method of removing damaged screw heads.

If you’re trying to pull out a screw lodged too deep into its screw hole without causing any damage to the surrounding surface, then this method is a perfect choice.

5. Wood Plug Cutters

wood plug cutters

A screw with a broken head that’s buried too deep inside a surface would require you to use more challenging methods. Plug cutters might be an excellent alternative tool to use.

Bore holes in the wood surrounding the screw head using the wood plug cutter. Doing so will make the screw’s head much more visible and accessible.

Then, you can utilize a drill chuck or locking plier to pull out the screw.

6. Superglue


Using the best superglue is a sure way for the surrounding surface to remain undamaged and unharmed. The process is easy: drop 2-3 drops of superglue on the head and stick a screwdriver on top.

Wait for it to dry for a couple of minutes before you slowly twist and rotate the driver.

7. Screw Extracting Pliers or Vice-Grips


For screws with shanks exposed enough to be gripped, you can easily use screw-extracting pliers or vice grips to remove them. Use either of these tools to clamp on the stripped screw. Also, you can use pliers to remove buried nails from wood

8. Screwdrivers (Try Different Sizes)

phillips-head screwdriver

The easiest manual screwdriver method for removing damaged fasteners is hammering the driver to the fastener’s head. That allows an extra grip to rotate and pull it out of the hole. It is especially effective if it’s made of soft metal.

If you’re using Phillips head screwdrivers, the best choice would be to use a flathead screwdriver. Search for one that is narrow enough to fit inside the Phillips head hole.

Your best chance is to use a different size screwdriver for fasteners with barely any top left. Play around with smaller sizes until you find one that would fit.

9. Rubber Band

rubber band

An elastic rubber band might seem unassuming, but it can help remove head fasteners. The rubbery surface of the elastic band can support the driver’s retention.

Wrap the rubber band around the end of the screwdriver, then push it enough into the broken fastener’s head and ensure it’s a good enough fit. Now, start removing the fastener.

In place of a rubber band, you can also use duct tape. Just place the tape’s adhesive side counter on the fastener.

10. Drilling

power drill and wooden boards

Screw drillers can also help remove the screw. It will only work if the fastener is not too deep inside the surface. Start by removing the drill head and attaching it to the fastener. Once set, begin drilling.

It will be fine if the fastener goes deeper. You can drill a pilot hole to remove it.

However, note that if you prefer a cleaner and smoother process, you are better off choosing alternative methods.

11. Liquid Friction

snapped screws

Stripped screw removal has never been easier, thanks to the development of specialty products.

Scouring through the market, you will find products like DriveGrip or Screw Grip that can increase the friction between the driver and the fastener.

12. Rotary Tool

Black+Decker RTX B-3 Speed RTX Rotary Tool adjustment switch

When most methods fail to deliver, using the best rotary tool might be a secure option. Try attaching a cutting disk to the rotary tool and then form a slot on the fastener by cutting it.

Check to see if the slit is deep to fit a flathead screwdriver.

Note that the rotary tool can scatter loose metal shavings around the material when used. Thus, safety goggles are needed.

13. Impact Driver

impact driver

An impact driver is most useful when dealing with a pesky threaded screw. To ensure it works, you must select the correct screwdriver bit.

Next, check if the bit is facing the right direction. Wear safety glasses for your protection.

Place the impact driver bit on the damaged fastener’s head. To fit snugly, strike the driver’s end a few times.

Once firmly set, you can loosen it up to make removing it easier. 

See Also: The Best Sets of Impact Drivers 

Should You Cover the Screws Instead of Pulling Them Out?

If removing the screw proves difficult, you can always try covering it up. Doing so requires less work and time since the steps to cover up a stripped screw are much more straightforward than removing one.

If it’s not necessary to remove the screw, it would be better to cover it. There are various ways to cover damaged fasteners.

Which Method Should You Opt For?

Removing fasteners with no heads can be easy, given that you used the correct method. Note that the hacks above do not apply to all stages of a threaded screw.

screw on wood


Screws can become someone’s life savior, thanks to their excellent use and purpose. Stripped screws, on the other hand, can do the exact opposite. It can create more work for you.

Knowing hacks on removing a screw with no head would be incredibly useful in the long run. Fortunately, there are now several ways and solutions to such problems!

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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