A screw extractor is an important tool to have included within your do it yourself toolbox. There are plenty of times when a stripped screw is holding up your project. With only a screwdriver you are not going to be able to remove the stripped, broken or cut off screw. Many people will try to pry out the stripped screw, but that only damages the surface of the wood. A screw extractor is a system of drill bits that actually bores into the screw enabling you to remove it easily. Here are the steps you should take when using the screw extractor to remove stripped or broken screws.
Step 1 - Try Screwdriver
Before you get out the screw extractor, try to remove the stripped screw with a screwdriver. Hold it tight to the screw and hold it at an angle. Try to turn the screw out of the wood. If it doesn't work, then you will need to assemble your screw extractor.
Step 2 - Center Punch Screw
In order to get the best start with the drill bit you will need to use a center punch. Line up the punch with the center of the screw head or broken shaft. Hold it straight and hit the top of the punch with a hammer. This will make a small indent in the screw where the drill bit can begin its boring.
Step 3 - Drill Pilot Hole
Start with a small 1/8 inch hole in the center of the screw. Continue to drill into the screw with 1/16 inch larger bits until you reach the diameter of the screw extractor you are going to be using. Keep the drill bit centered in the shank of the screw and straight. Drill only as deep as is recommended for the specific screw extractor you will be using.
Step 4 - Insert Screw Extractor
Set the screw extractor into the hole in the screw. Tap it into the screw with a hammer to make sure that the lands, or the threads, of the extractor bite into the sides of the screw. Attach a T handle to the top of the extractor. These handles are commonly found with a tap and die set or are sold with a screw extractor kit.
Step 5 - Turn Into Screw
Turn the screw extractor into the pilot hole so that the bit will get a firm grip on the screw itself. Keep the extractor straight and make sure not to apply any lateral pressure on the bit. This can cause the bit to bend, or not get a good enough purchase onto the screw.
Step 6 - Remove Scew
Once the screw starts to move in the hole it is in, then continue to turn the screw extractor in a counter clockwise motion. Continue to loosen the screw until you can remove it from the wood surface. If the screw has stripped the wood enough where it is just rotating in the hole. Lift up on the screw extractor to bring the top of the screw out of the wood. Use a pair of pliers to grab the head of the screw and twist it out.