View Full Version : stuck screws in wood

Bruce Barnes
11-11-2005, 12:26 AM
Does anyone have any tips on how to loosen and remove screws that have for one reason or another become stuck, e.g., backboards,dial pans etc.

Bruce Barnes
11-11-2005, 12:26 AM
Does anyone have any tips on how to loosen and remove screws that have for one reason or another become stuck, e.g., backboards,dial pans etc.

Joe Collins
11-11-2005, 12:38 AM
Hi Bruce,
Touch a soldering iron to the screw for 15 to 20 seconds. This has worked for me. The heat is not enough to hurt the screw but will make the wood turn loose.


Bob Reichel
11-11-2005, 01:13 AM
After the heat treatment, one may have to go to devices like screw extractors and Easy-outs. Getting the rust loosened probably is the key to getting the screw out.

harold bain
11-11-2005, 02:21 AM
Bruce, the other possibilty is that someone has glued the screws in. Heat should work if that is the problem as well.

Cathy in Hawaii
11-16-2005, 03:18 PM
Aloha Bruce,

It sounds simplistic, but sometimes a bigger screwdriver works. Little screw drivers will sometimes strip the face of the screw and not have enough torque behind them to move the screw. A bigger screw driver (if it can fit in the slot of the screw head) will move stubborn screws. One of my favorites is a screwdriver bit in a bit and brace. That has torque! You have to have a delicate touch though. You may also try clenching a vise grip on which ever screw driver fits the screw. That will give you the torque to move the screw.

Another method is to give the screw a sharp rap to loosen the grip of the wood on the screw threads. Or put a bit of Liquid Wrench or LPS1 or other loosening oils on it.

A hui hou,

11-16-2005, 05:01 PM
DITTO on CYNTHIA's hard rap. Now I ain't inta rap but HERE is where it really has a purpose. ALSO: The obvious. 1. A very square screwdriver with a blade that fits the slot verty intimately. 2. "Chase the slot: Clean the screwhead slot for maximum purchase. Even deepen it if you can. 3. Remove wood from area surrounding screwhead. Sometimes the head is buried below the surface by zealous installer. You can replace it with a slightly larger screwhead that will hide your carving later. Now you tell me: Why is it? Why is it that the most difficult screw to remove is the last one you attempt to remove?

11-16-2005, 09:34 PM
Now you tell me: Why is it? Why is it that the most difficult screw to remove is the last one you attempt to remove?

When you install screws each one clamps a little tighter. Then typically you go around and retorque each one a little more which squeezes/compresses the joint a little tighter. When remove them each screw releases its tension to the remaining screws. The last screw may bear the released stress of all the previous ones. I find it works sometimes to release each a minute bit at a time in a repeated pattern.

Then again, I could be wrong, and it is simply that the last screw is always be the one that happens to be corroded! :smile:

11-16-2005, 10:52 PM
Try putting vinegar around the screw. It will penetrate the wood and in most cases loosen things up.

Quote:Now you tell me: Why is it? Why is it that the most difficult screw to remove is the last one you attempt to remove?

The Parvenu
Duh, you should have started with that one first!! Jeez.

Mike C.

Bruce Barnes
11-17-2005, 04:17 AM
Thanks for all the good advice,I tried a little heat and Voila !! I was a little leery of liquid wrench because these were in wood and I didn't wish to swell or discolor the wood.The large screwdriver might have worked but these were old brass and I could see the screw head slot starting to distort.
Thanks Again,

11-17-2005, 11:07 AM
Several years ago a machinist showed me that if you turn the screw tighter then turn it back it will loosen the screw . sometimes it works I have found it to be a good trick.

P Gorman
11-17-2005, 11:00 PM
In adjusting or replacing innumerable door hinges, I have used all of the above.

My elaboration on Cathy's suggestion is to place the (well fitting) screwdriver squarely in the slot and then sharply and forcefully rap the screwdriver handle end.


Blue Damsel
12-19-2005, 02:02 AM
About a year ago I inherited my deceased mother-in-law's vintage key-wind mantel clock. The clock kept stopping, but I could not get the face off because of ONE STUCK SCREW. I did not want to mangle this phillips screw, so I just stored the clock away in the closet. Then I read this thread. I retrieved the clock...stuck the soldering gun to the stubborn screw for 20 seconds and WOW! The screw came right on out!!! Now the clock is on my mantel ticking & chiming away!

I check this message board regularly, and you guys are FABULOUS! Thanks so much for all the information, and also the enjoyable humor. :biggrin:

I have learned so much just by looking in. Thanks!

Robert Gary
12-19-2005, 04:14 AM

Welcome to the NAWCC message board! Glad to have you aboard and to hear that we are providing a useful service.

Don't hesitate to ask questions. That is why we are here.


12-20-2005, 10:27 AM

Heat, I never would have though of it for a wood screw. Funny thing is I do it for broken or frozen bolts all the time.


12-26-2005, 03:51 PM
Hi...Can the above methods work for screws that are stuck in metal casings? Thank you.

12-27-2005, 04:47 AM
Hello Purpledog

Yes, it will work on screws stuck in metal castings. Apply as much heat as the assembly can tolerate. Cherry red is best for steels. Loss of heat treatment may be an issue.


01-17-2006, 05:34 PM
okay. my story is/was that i needed to install a new phone jack module. true, the last screw is always the one that is stuck. the one that had the yellow wire was corroded. i applied over 4 sprayings of wd-40 and it would not losen. i ended up breaking the old yellow wire off, but the copper "U" shaped thingie was still stuck around the corroded screw.
something that should have taken 5 minutes ended up taking me over 4 hours due to this corroded screw. i began to research the internet for options--came upon this website.
but before i came upon this web site, i saw on one person's web site that he used diet coke to wear down the corrosion, but being its after 3AM, i don't want to make a trip to the local deli, so i thought i would try what i cleaned my drain pipes with this week...vinegar and baking soda. well, i applied it with a brush to the stuck screw, waited a few minutes and took a pair of pliers and was able to gently unscrew the corroded screw which is now the cleanest, shinest screw of the 4.

so try vinegar and baking soda for those corroded screws.

David Robertson
01-18-2006, 12:46 AM

Good tip.. but I am curious...

Baking soda(a base) neutralizes vinegar (an acid). The mixture fizzes because of this chemical reaction... did you apply them together? or did you use just the vinegar and then neutalize with soda? The normal procedure for de-rusting with acid is to let the acid do the derusting and then neutralize with soda. The reason coke works is that it contains phosphoric acid.


01-18-2006, 01:33 AM
I think these suggestions are all good. I have two more I'd like to add:

1) in addition to heat, I will also sometimes add cold - like an icicle, some snow or just a cold screwdriver AFTER I have already heated up the screw. This is the old heat-cycle trick where you expand the screw and then rapidly shrink it back, breaking the rust or glue bonds in the process. Given that I live in Canada, getting hold of some snow (or icicle off the end of my beard) usually is not a problem for a good part of the year. :biggrin:

2) you can also try WD-40 or some other light machine oil. It will loosen rust and I imagine other grime as well. It will also allow the thread to slide more readily once the screw begins to move. A tiny dab to seep into the thread will do.


01-18-2006, 07:04 AM
I'll just add that when you are working with metal screw in metal, you should heat not the screw but the metal around it. Heat expands metal and by heating the screw you are exacerbating the problem.
(There! I've used the word in a sentence, so I can move on to the next!)