How to Use a Screw Extractor

Lead Image
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 5-50
What You'll Need
Power drill and drill bits
Screw extractor
T-handle for the screw extractor

You know you need a screw extractor when your screw’s top groove is stripped or if it’s sheared off completely, removing a broken screw top is frustrating if you don’t know what you’re doing. You can attempt to loosen it by hand for hours, or you can purchase a handy screw extractor for about $5. This handy tool has a square top section and a shaft that ends in threads. These threads are sharply tapered to get inside of a screw shaft to easily remove it from any surface. After purchasing a screw extractor, check out how to use it with the guide below.

Drill a Guide Hole

A guide hole provides an entry for the screw extractor into the screw. To make a guide hole, attach a 1/16 drill bit to your power drill, and align it with the center of the screw you want to remove. Then, slowly drill into the center of the screw shaft.

Enlarge the Hole

Once you’ve started the hole, change the bit to the size of the embedded screw, and enlarge the hole to the size you need. To confirm what size of guide hole you should make, check the packaging on the extractor.

Assemble the Screw Extractor

Hold the screw extractor upright with the square attachment end at the top. Fasten the T-handle to the extractor by pushing the threaded joint down over the square end and turning it until it is snug.

Insert the Screw Extractor Into the Guide Hole

Next, set the threaded tip of the screw extractor into the drilled guide hole. Strike the T-handle directly above the extractor tip with a hammer to force it into the guide hole.

Press Down and Twist Counterclockwise

While pressing down on the extractor handle, turn the T-handle counterclockwise from its starting point. Keep the screw extractor as vertical as possible, so that it stays secure in the guide hole.

Adjust Guide-Hole Size

If you can't get the screw extractor to grip the embedded screw, pick a larger drill-bit size, such as 5/32, and make the guide hole larger. Tap the T-handle again to get the best connection for the screw extractor. Turn the T-handle quicker as you feel the screw loosening until you have detached the screw completely from the material it was holding together.