How to Stop Stripping Screw Heads





Introduction: How to Stop Stripping Screw Heads

This instructable is a quick modification for drill drivers done at Techshop that will help the drill bit driver to seat into a screw head better so you can avoid stripping out the heads of your screws. The taper (point) on a driver bit sometimes gets in the way of it seating snugly into the flat bottomed screw head. As always start with the correctly sized driver for screw you are using.

Materials/Tools Needed:

Cordless Drill
Disc Sander (Techshop!)
Metal File

Step 1: Load Driver Into Cordless Drill

Load the driver bit into your cordless drill.

Step 2: Square Off the End of the Driver With Disc Sander

Turn the disc sander on and then using the table to rest the drill on, hold the drill at a 90 degree angle to the disc sander face and carefully flatten the point off of the driver end.

Step 3: Inspect Your Work and File If Necessary

Inspect your work and test fit your drill bit driver. If some of the metal burrs get in the way of a good fit, just file them away with a metal file and then enjoy frustration free screwing!



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    21 Discussions

    I have read in a book once that modifying the end of a tool with a grinder will leave you with a undesirable change in the metal do to the heat accumulated during the process. What was suggested was that you use a hand file instead so as to avoid the heat build up there by maintaining the hardened edge of the tool. Good post none the less.

    Sometimes you have to work with what fasteners are already THERE, like fixing an old piece of equipment. I have done the following:
    1) slot the screw head with a Dremel and cutoff wheel.
    2) Get a product called Screw Medic (basically emery dust in oil - like valve grinding compound). Put a little on the driver tip, gives more traction.
    3) Squirt Rem Oil or Pblaster or WD40 on the screw head. Wait a moment. put the driver in the head and tap sharply with a hammer on top of the head. Then, TIGHTEN the screw slightly to break loose and then loosen.
    4) Look for "anti-camout" bits from those tool-store-in-a-trucks. These have teeth cut in them so they tend to stay in as you extract the screw.

    To entirely avoid all this trouble why not use Robertson (square head or square recess screws) in the first place?
    Check Robertson screws on Google to see their many advantages.
    I have a set of three Robertson screw drivers that have been used for over 50 years and still hold the screw securely in any position. The tips show no signs of wear. Phillips screwdrivers self destruct in a relatively short time.
    They are ideal for use in power screw drivers or drills. One hand is always free as there is no need to hold the screw.
    They have never damaged a screw head.
    They are colour coded, red green and black for the original three sizes of head recesses available. There are now other sizes each having its own colour code.

    Phillip's head failures led the way towards the invention of square drive and Torx head screws...what an improvement!

    2 replies

    Well, Phillips screw drive was designed to limit the torque that could be applied by camming out, yet still be able to be installed by automated equipment. This was done because early equipment didn't have any inherent torque limiting features, probably due to expense.

    Because it was so successful, it became the de facto standard, even in applications where the cam out feature is undesirable.

    Ease of manufacture and not ease of maintenance usually governs screw choices in design. That was doubly true back in the day when factories were almost the only places that had powered drivers. I think it was Henry Ford that first widely adopted the phillips, head precisely because it sped up production so much.

    These days, torq limiting in maintenance is almost always signaled by a regular/single-slot screw. Those are heck to put in during manufacture but you really have to work at them to over tighten them.

    The days of phillips head are clearly numbered. Despite the cost, I have begun to go out of my way to buy square or torx head screws in my own work simply because they are so much easy to work with and way more reliable to remove. I believe everyone should try the new styles out if they haven't already.

    In the past, I have flattened a bit by simply chucking it in a drill and then running the drill with the bit pressed against a grinding surface e.g. sandpaper, an immobile grind stone, metal file etc.

    Since you're only removing a couple of millimeters (1/16") of material you don't really need a one-meter/one-yard in diameter stationary sander. ;-)

    If you do find yourself with a stripped screw like the one in the first photo, a square drive bit usually a #2 will actually fit snugly because when the phillips strips out, it leaves a diamond shaped or square hole. 

    I am ashamed to say I never thought of that until one day I accidentally chucked a square bit while removing a stripped phillips and it came right out. *Sigh* Hate to think how many man hours I blew over the years not realizing that. 

    3 replies

    The disc sander is standard equipment at TechShop. The author clearly indicated that this was a technique done at TechShop, so using the available equipment makes sense.

    I was just being humorous. I was amused at using such a large and powerful tool for such a small task. Of course, if it's the tool sitting right there, then it makes practical sense but the juxtaposition was funny nevertheless.

    Nice Idea! But, I'm not sure if I'd be willing to sacrifice a drillbit for it though... I'll keep this in mind next time I have a stripped screw!

    2 replies

    Look at the local pawn shop, the sell sockets and probably replacement bits dirt cheap. I have found craftsman sockets for $1.00.

    You should run the drill/driver when holding it against the sander/grind stone. This will give you a squarer finish with hopeful no need to do any filing at all.

    the metal on the tip looks blue, i think you might've messed with the tempering, do you find it harder or softer?

    1 reply

    mines pretty hard ;)

    i dont think that small amount of sanding/grinding/whatver you wish to call it would have affected the tempering

    ...enjoy frustration free screwing!

    That's what she said.

    Best solution is to stop using philips and pozi fasteners. The philips was designed to cam out and the pozi doesnt do much to correct it.

    I wont buy fasteners other than square or metric hex drive for my personal use. IMO its a shame that torx didnt get more use on fasteners since its the most superior one.

    Stop stripping screw heads by throwing out that cordless drill and using an impact driver instead--c'mon, all the cool kids are doing it!