How to Remove a Stripped Allen Screw

Remove Stripped Allen Screw

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Ah, the dreaded stripped Allen screw. We’ve all been there: you’re just trying to take something apart or put it back together, and suddenly you’re faced with the most annoying of hardware obstacles. Fear not, DIY warriors, for we have assembled the ultimate guide to removing that pesky, stripped Allen screw. So, buckle up and prepare for a laugh as we dive into the world of stripped screw removal with all the grace and dignity of a three-legged giraffe!

1. The Rubber Band or Paper Trick: A Sticky Solution

Lay it on

Alright, let’s start with the basics. Grab a wide rubber band or a piece of paper and lay it over the top of the stripped Allen screw. This will help your Allen wrench grip the screw better by filling in the gaps where it’s stripped. Like a band-aid for your screw, but way less sticky.

Insert and turn

Now, insert the correctly sized Allen wrench over the paper or rubber band and turn it counter-clockwise. If all goes well, the rubber band or paper will create enough friction to help your wrench grip the screw and turn it out.

2. T-Handle Hex Wrench: An Upgrade in the Grip Department

Out with the old, in with the new

If the rubber band or paper trick didn’t work, it’s time to bring out the big guns. Well, not really, but let’s switch to a T-handle Allen hex wrench. The usual L-shaped Allen wrenches are thin and difficult to handle, much like trying to eat spaghetti with a toothpick. A T-handle wrench offers better grip and improved downward pressure, making your life just a tad bit easier.

Turn, baby, turn

With your new and improved T-handle Allen wrench, insert it into the stripped screw and turn counter-clockwise. With any luck, the better grip will make all the difference and you’ll have that stripped Allen screw out in no time.

3. Screw-Grab Friction Liquid: A Slippery Solution

A drop of magic

If the T-handle wrench didn’t do the trick, worry not! There’s a magical potion to help you out: Screw-grab friction liquid. This wonder liquid creates a positive grip on screws, increasing torque and reducing slipping. Basically, it’s like putting on a pair of cleats before playing soccer on a muddy field.

Apply and turn

Add one drop of screw-grab friction liquid to the top of the stripped Allen screw, then insert the correctly sized Allen wrench and turn counter-clockwise. With the added grip, you should have a better chance at removing the screw.

4. Bigger is Sometimes Better: Try a Larger Allen Wrench

Size matters, sometimes

Stripping an Allen screw can widen its internal hex shape. So, if the screw-grab friction liquid didn’t work, try moving up to the next-sized Allen wrench. It’s like trying to fit into your favorite pair of pants after Thanksgiving dinner – sometimes, you just need to go up a size.

Turn it up

Insert the larger Allen wrench into the stripped screw and turn counter-clockwise. The larger size might just be what you need to get that screw out.

Tip: Remember that there are both SAE and metric sized Allen wrenches. It’s good to have both available for a proper fit.

5. The Torx Wrench: A Star is Born

A wrench of a different shape

If the larger Allen wrench isn’t cutting it, let’s move on to a different type of wrench: the Torx wrench. Torx is a trademarked screw and wrench with a six-point star-shaped pattern. Picture a snowflake, but way more useful.

Insert and turn

A similarly sized Torx wrench might provide a better grip on a stripped Allen screw. Or, plot twist, you might even discover that you actually have a Torx screw, not an Allen screw! Insert the Torx wrench and turn counter-clockwise to remove the screw.

6. Phillips Head Screwdriver: A Surprisingly Handy Tool

A different approach

If you’ve made it this far and still haven’t successfully removed the stripped Allen screw, it’s time to try something a little different. Grab a Phillips head screwdriver and prepare to give that screw a piece of your mind.

Insert and turn (gently)

Carefully insert the tip of the Phillips head screwdriver into the Allen screw and turn counter-clockwise. Take your time and go easy to avoid stripping the screw even more. Think of it like trying to sneak a cookie from the cookie jar without getting caught – slow and steady wins the race.

7. Feeling the Heat: Apply Some Temperature Therapy

Fire it up

If the surrounding material is not flammable (please, double-check this!), you can apply heat from a small propane torch for a few seconds to the stripped Allen screw. It’s like sending the screw to a spa day, but instead of a relaxing massage, it gets a blast of heat to loosen it up.

Turn with caution

After heating the screw, insert the appropriate Allen wrench and turn counter-clockwise. The heat may have loosened the screw enough to allow for successful removal.

8. Needle-Nose Pliers: Get a Grip

A hands-on approach

If any part of the Allen screw head is exposed, it’s time to channel your inner surgeon and grab it with needle-nose pliers. These pliers are like the long, spindly fingers of a mad scientist, perfect for gripping tiny, stubborn screws.

Turn and conquer

Hold the stripped Allen screw head with the needle-nose pliers and turn counter-clockwise. If the Allen screw is embedded in wood and you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of the surrounding material, press into the wood to grip more of the screw head.

9. Left-Hand Drill Bit: The Reverse Approach

A counter-intuitive solution

Left-hand drill bits are similar to conventional drill bits, except they spiral to the left. They’re like the rebellious siblings of your standard drill bits, always going the opposite way.

Choose and drill

From your set of left-hand drill bits, choose one narrower than the assumed diameter of the Allen screw (the shank will usually be smaller than the head). Insert the left-hand drill bit into an electric drill, making sure to switch the drill rotation to REVERSE.

Drill and remove

Keeping the drill vertical, drill into the Allen screw until it turns out. Sometimes, going in reverse is the way forward!

10. Create a Groove: Time for Some Arts & Crafts

Cutting a path

If you’ve made it to this step, it’s time for some DIY arts and crafts. Insert a metal cutting wheel into a rotary cutting tool and carefully cut a shallow groove into the Allen screw head. It’s like carving a pumpkin, but way less festive.

Flat-head to the rescue

With your newly crafted groove, switch to a flat-head screwdriver and attempt to turn the Allen screw out. This might just be the extra help you need to finally remove that stubborn screw.

11. Screw Extractor Kit: The Ultimate Tool

A heavy-duty solution

A screw extractor kit is like the superhero of screw removal tools. These kits contain heavy-duty, larger diameter extractor bits that start at 3/16-inch and are designed to save the day when all else has failed.

Insert and turn

Attach the screw extractor bit to your drill or the manual T-shaped handle, and turn the bit counter-clockwise into the Allen screw. With enough force and persistence, the screw should finally emerge victorious.

12. Two-Part Epoxy: The Sticky Solution

A bonding experience

Last but not least, if none of the previous methods have worked, it’s time to break out the two-part epoxy. This powerful adhesive is composed of a resin and a hardener that, when mixed together, create a bond stronger than your grandma’s fruitcake.

Mix and apply

Choose an Allen wrench or T-shaped hex wrench that fits the Allen screw as tightly as possible. Mix the two-part epoxy according to the directions, and apply the adhesive to the wrench, firmly gluing it to the Allen screw.

Wait and turn

You may need to wait up to 12 hours for the epoxy to fully cure, so take this time to rest, recuperate, and maybe even practice your screw-removing techniques on some non-stripped screws. Once the epoxy has cured, turn the wrench counter-clockwise to remove the stripped Allen screw.

And there you have it, the ultimate guide to removing a stripped Allen screw! While it’s not the most glamorous or enjoyable DIY task, armed with this knowledge (and a healthy sense of humor), you’ll be able to tackle those pesky stripped screws with confidence and maybe even a chuckle or two.

Tom Whitford
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