How to Remove a Stuck, Stripped or Painted Screw

Isn’t it frustrating when you are trying to unscrew a screw and the head is stripped? Or some moron painted the screw and now you can’t get your screwdriver into the slots. (I might have been the painting fool mentioned.) Luckily there are two ways to solve this problem.

Removing the Painted Screw:

If you can’t get your screwdriver far enough into the screw to remove it, you may have some luck with a little force. Insert the screwdriver into the head of the screw.

Give the end of the screw driver a good whack with a hammer. This should be enough to either break through the paint, or put a dent into the screw head.

Without removing the screwdriver, press down and slowly unscrew the screw.


Removing the Stripped Screw:

At some point in your life, I guarantee that you will find yourself face-to-face with a screw that some muscle-head has ground down to a round hole. This happens when someone uses a drill and continues to drive the screw in long after it has stopped turning. Or when the metal screw was too soft and gave way under the force of the drill.

If you have either a metal file, metal hack saw or a dremel with a metal cutting wheel on it, you can solve this issue.

You will also need eye protection and a flat head screwdriver (not a philips head.)

Using your metal cutting tool of choice (I used the dremel), cut a slot across the head of the screw. You are essentially changing the screw into a flat head screw. (If you are using the dremel, be forewarned that sparks will fly!)

Insert the flat head driver into the groove that you created.

Turn the screw counter-clockwise until you have removed it.

Easy, right?! I’m curious, do you have any other tips or tricks for removing a stuck screw? Please share.


  1. JolieAnne says:

    Thanks for this post. I want to buy a dremel tool but I am not sure it is for me. I need a drill to hang curtain rods and to do other small projects. Do I need a more heavy duty drill for that?
    Thanks for any comments you have concerning my question. I love your blog and wish I had as much talent as you do! I look forward to your posts.
    Thanks again!

  2. I had the stripped screw issues: I researched at Lowes, and found a bit for the drill that is specifically for this. One end grinds into the head and gives it some texture (for lack of a better word!), then you flip the bit over, and the other ends grabs the screw and it comes right out.. google “screw extractor bit”. One bit was just a few dollars!
    But I do love using my dremel and seeing sparks fly…that is worth it!

  3. Jessica says:

    Or… you could just use a wide rubber band, lay it on top of the head and use the phillips or flat-head screw driver to remove as usual. Honestly…it works. :)

  4. This wont work for most DIY house projects but because I am a fabricator/metal worker, a lot of time when metal nuts/bolts are stripped you can just weld a nut onto it. I suppose the same can technically be done w/ JB weld on any household screws. Also impact drivers are great too, it has a bit at one end and you hammer the other end. The force of the hammer pushes the bit into the screw and screws it at the same time ( The screw extractors mentioned above works well too!

  5. This is a great tip. And my hubbie just happened to get me a Dremel for my birthday this weekend. Yet another excuse to use it. Woot woot!

  6. Thanks to these instructions, simply useful.

  7. Great tutorial, simple but very useful!

  8. I know for one trick I use, I curse a lot then I go into action. I hate when that has happened & you’re right, some ‘muscle head’ has done this! Thanks for the tips, this one I must remember by heart before I loose my temper the next time. Thank you!

  9. The rubber band method worked!


  1. […] feat.  I used a combination of paint stripping with a screw driver and the hammer method described here.  The doors needed to be majorly sanded before they were painted.  And the inside of the closet […]

  2. […] feat.  I used a combination of paint stripping with a screw driver and the hammer method described here.  The doors needed to be majorly sanded before they were painted.  And the inside of the closet […]

  3. […] Uh oh, the screw still won’t come out? Here’s plan C: Use a dremel to get the screw out! […]

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