How to Use Screw Extractor

As a DIYer, whenever you are working on a project, a stripped or damaged screw can hinder its entire flow. However, by using a spiral or a simple screw extractor, you can get rid of such as screw and proceed with your project.

So, basically, once you have donned the appropriate gear, you need to start off by punching out the screw you are dealing with. Next, make a guide hole and finish off by extracting the screw.

In our guide below, we will be taking a dig into the details of the aforementioned steps. Before we do that, let’s go over the basic definition of a screw extractor as well as the appropriate time and situation, where you should use the tool!

What is a Screw Extractor?

How to Use Screw Extractor

A screw extractor is essentially a steel shaft, having a square-headed end and an end with reverse tapered cutting screw threads.

The square head gets fitted into a T-handle, which in turn, rotates the extractor. On the other hand, tapered screw threads are used for screwing in the counterclockwise direction, once the pilot hole has been made.

Note that the tapered end is made such that it allows the extractor to dig deep into the screw as you turn it anticlockwise.

Also, if you don’t own a T-handle, you can opt for a screw extractor with locking pliers.

When to Use a Screw Extractor?

Oftentimes, you can simply cut or bend off a screw. If that is not possible, however, you will need to pull out the screw. That’s where stripped or rounded-off screws can be a real nuisance.

However, with a screw extractor at hand, you have got nothing to worry about.

The usefulness of a screw extractor lies in its particular design. The most common design of a screw extractor is a tapered drill bit with reverse threading. This design of a screw extractor easily fixes into screws and removes them.

Required Supplies

Here are the required supplies for the screw extraction process:

  • Screw Extractor
  • Hammer
  • Center Punch
  • A Powerful Drill
  • Drill Bits
  • Thread Cutting Oil
  • Penetrating Oil
  • Wrench
  • Safety Glasses

Step 1: Don the Safety Gear

Safety Gear

Using a screw extractor can pose certain risks. The metal fly-offs, that result from the process, can enter your eyes and damage them. Similarly, they can also cut your hands if they are sharp.

Accordingly, wear the necessary safety gear, especially glasses and gloves, made of polycarbonate lenses.

Step 2: Punch Out the Screw

For a commonly available screw extractor, you will need to provide a bit of space on the screw head for it to work properly and that means, punching a hole in the screw.

Accordingly, line up a punch to the center of the screw and hammer it down in a light manner. Resultantly, a dent will be produced in the center of the screw that will serve to guide the drill bit.

However, if your screw extractor has a burnishing end, you can skip this step and simply use that end to pull out the screw.

Note that if the screw, you are dealing with, happens to be in a tight place, use a right angle drill along with a small metal drill bit.

Step 3: Make a Guide Hole

Now, you need to get yourself a drill bit that is smaller in diameter than the screw you intend to remove. For streamlining the process, you can use a few drops of thread-cutting oil on the screw head. If this oil isn’t available, feel free to go with WD-40, motor oil, or some other household lubricant.

If the concerned screw is rusted or is attached to a metal surface, add a drop of penetrating oil after adding thread-cutting oil. It will make the screw much easier to remove.

Anyhow, with the right drill bit equipped, drill straight down into the screw. Although it depends on the size of your screw extractor, you will most likely drill down around 1/8-1/4’’.

In the case of a screw extractor, having a burnishing end, kick your drill in reverse to be able to use it.

Step 4: Extract the Undesirable Screw

Using a Screw Extractor

Finally, with the guide hole in place, use your screw extractor to pull out the screw.

In the case that you are using a drill in reverse, turn the screw extractor inside the guide hole that you made (you can also use a wrench instead of a drill). Inside the hole, the screw extractor will twist and grab hold of the screw. Once that happens, just keep turning the screwdriver and your screw should be safely out.

If the screw extractor is not affected, bore out a little more of the screw head. Even after that, if the screw is stuck, use a butane or propane torch and lightly heat the screw for a couple of minutes. The heat will expand the metal and make the screw easier to be pulled out.

Now, try the screw extractor once again.

It is also worth mentioning that you should prioritize the manual extraction of the screw because, through a drill, drill bits are likely to break.

The larger the size of the screw you are dealing with, the better will the manual method work.

Important Tips

Now that you have gotten the method of using a screw extractor on your fingertips, be sure to keep in mind the following handy tips:

  • When you are heating a stuck screw, make sure that it is metallic. Otherwise, it won’t be able to withstand heat.
  • Never force the extractor. If you feel like that the screw extractor is stuck, halt the process so that the extractor doesn’t break inside.
  • Keep in mind to exert as little pressure as possible on the screw. This is because the screw or the extractor can get damaged.

Frequently Asked Questions

Screw Extractor

Which Way Do You Turn a Screw Extractor?

It basically depends on the model of the screw extractor you are using. However, most likely, you will be turning a wrench or drill in an anticlockwise direction.

What Happens if a Screw Extractor Doesn’t Work?

If that’s the case, try using pliers to remove the screw you are dealing with. Otherwise, try drilling the whole bolt out and re-thread the hole with a larger bolt.

Can You Use This Procedure if Screw is Just Rusted into Metal Shower Door Frame?

Yes, you can use the method mentioned in this guide. However, be sure to use penetrating oil to loosen the rust on the metallic screw.


We sincerely hope that this guide has addressed your queries regarding the usage of a screw extractor.

To reiterate, you start off by equipping the necessary safety gear. Then, you punch out the screw and drill a guide hole. The final step is what this guide is about – using the screw extractor.

Liam Weissman

Hello and welcome to PowerToolGenius! My name is Liam and for the last 9 years, I have worked extensively with various power tools and accessories. I have tested hundreds of different brands and models and understand the industry extensively and have been working with tools my entire life!

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