6 Household Substitutes for a Phillips Head Screwdriver

Cross-tip screws are screwed into wood using a Phillips head screwdriver.

Most homeowners have several screwdrivers on hand including a Phillips head screwdriver. Different sizes of drivers with an X-shaped tip match up with various sizes of Phillips screws. However, at some point you may not be able to find that Phillip screwdriver when you want it. Fortunately, you probably have several items sitting around the house that will substitute nicely.

Note: Proper sizing is still important or you risk stripping the screw while trying to drive it in or pull it out. You should try to find one of these objects with an end comparable in size to the screws you're using.

1. Flathead Screwdriver

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If you can’t find one screwdriver, you can always give it a go with another. While it is not the same shape, if you can get at least half of a flathead screwdriver in the screw’s slots, you can build enough momentum to get the job done.

2. Metal Vegetable Peeler

Whenever you find yourself without a Phillips screwdriver, you may want to look in your kitchen drawers. The tip of a metal vegetable peeler is very similar in shape and size, and it can usually get the job done.

3. Butter Knife

A butter knife can be found in anyone’s kitchen. Although it runs into the same problem as the flathead screwdriver as far as not being the same shape, it can work just as well. Simply work your knife into two of the slots and build up momentum to get it to start spinning.

4. Loose Coins

The change in your pocket can actually substitute for a cross-tip screwdriver in a pinch. Small coins will work better, like dimes or pennies, but they will still likely fit only in a larger screw, where the rounded edge can get more grip.

5. Washers

Like a coin, a round washer can sometimes be fitted into the slots of a larger Phillips head screw. This substitute will definitely be too wide to use on smaller screws.

6. Pliers

If your screw has a rounded head that sticks out of the wood, or if you’ve managed to use one of these other makeshift screwdrivers to get the screw partially out or in, then you can avoid stripping the screw head by proceeding with a pair of pliers instead. Grip the screw head firmly with the pliers and twist. Although any type of pliers will work, needle-nose pliers will probably provide the best grip on the screw in this case.

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