Removing Stripped Screw Heads
You did it...you stripped out the Phillips screw that holds your taillight on, and now you're kinda screwed.
You did it…you stripped out the Phillips screw that holds your taillight on, and now you’re kinda screwed. Here’s a simple solution on how to remove a stripped Phillips screw: Grab your favorite rotary tool and turn that Phillips head into a flat head. I use the standard grinding disc that most rotary tools come with. I suppose a cutoff tool with a thin profile would work as well.
The existing hole in the screw acts as a guide. Once you get the slot started, make sure to move the tool back and forth—you don’t want a slot with a curved bottom. Also, try to hold the tool as perpendicular to the head as possible. If you grind the slot at an angle, you’ll end up with another stripped-out screw head.
As always, let the tool do the work: Don’t push too hard or the grinding wheel will want to jump out of the slot, or you’ll break the bit. And don’t overgrind—on one occasion, I ground too deep and the screw head split in half when I tried to loosen it.
There’s no guarantee that you won’t need to resort to more drastic methods of screw extraction, but this simple trick has saved me a dozen times.
— Mark Petersen, Contributing Editor
For more tips on driving and how to remove a stripped Phillips screw, check out: