It’s bound to happen sooner or later: you are attempting to remove a screw from a piece of lumber or material, only to strip away the head to the point where it no longer “sticks” to your screwdriver or screw bit. When this occurs, it can be next-to-impossible to remove the screw using traditional methods. Without your screwdriver holding the screw, there’s simply no feasible way to remove it — not without using an alternative method, at least. The good news is that you still remove a stripped screw; all it takes is the right approach and a little bit of work.
Don’t Make it Worse!
One of the most common mistakes made when attempting to remove a stripped screw is digging further into the screw’s head. If the tool you are attempting to remove the screw with is slipping, it will only make the problem worse. So, whether you are using a screwdriver or drill w/ screw bit, refrain from using it if the screw is slipping.
Try a Manual Screwdriver
Even if you are unable to remove a stripped screw with a power drill, a manual screwdriver may work. You’ll have greater leverage with a manual screwdriver, allowing you to push and pull at the right angles to remove the screw. Furthermore, there’s less risk of stripping away the screw’s head when using a manual screwdriver as opposed to power drill or tool. This isn’t a fool-proof way to remove all stripped screws, but it may work in some circumstances.
If you can not remove the stripped screw with a manual screwdriver, try using a screw extractor. As the name suggests, this tool is designed specifically for the removal of stripped screw. Consisting of a drill-like bit with metal threads on the tip, it is used to dig inside the metal of a stripped screw head, at which point it and the screw can be removed with a power drill. Basically, you want to drill the screw extractor into the head of the stripped screw. When it’s deep enough, attach the exposed portion to your drill and flip it in reverse. When done correctly, this should remove the stripped screw from the material in which it was previously embedded.