Introduction: How to Open Security Screws

Picture of How to Open Security Screws

This instructable shows you how to open security screws.  Security screws are those stupid screws you see on products that the manufacture does not intend for you to open.  Ive seen these on hard drives and on a microwave.
There are two ways to open these without the special screwdriver, you can use a hammer and just bust the thing open (using brute force) or take a dremel and cut a slot or Phillips head into the screw.
Since we have evolved from the cavemen i will show you how a gentleman opens these.

You will need a dremel rotary tool and fiberglass reenforced cut off wheel.
appropriate PPE (glasses, ear protection, reflective belt)

Here is some cool information for screws

Step 1: Add a Slot Into the Top

Picture of Add a Slot Into the Top

This is too easy,
Take your dremel tool and carefully cut a slot in to the top of the screw.  You want to modify the screw head to accept the new tool as perfect as possible.  If you make the slot too wide then you risk shearing off the head and ruining the screw. If you make it too narrow then you risk injuring yourself when the tool slips.
With practice its possible to cut a Phillips head into the head of the screw.

Step 2: Remove Screw

Picture of Remove Screw

Now you can remove the screw with ease.
If your doing a simple repair, such as replacing a fuse then just go to the hardware store and get some regular screws that match the thread and size.  If your busting into something then just toss the screws.

Hopefully this saves you a trip to the hardware store or having to special ordering security bits to open broken products.


JanM142 made it! (author)2016-09-24

I used a good pair of vice grips. Works great and took less than a minute to remove them and almost as easy to put them back. Just may sure the nose on the end is flat.

coolbeansbaby68 (author)2014-03-13

I never thought of doing it this way . The way i did got around this was i used a dremel with a small grinding stone bit and just ground the little nipple in the center flush to the bottom and then i could use a regular bit ..

MikeLee (author)2011-09-08

At first I didn't see much merit in this because it makes the task much harder than it needs to be and requires a dremel tool. But after seeing all the lame "just go buy some bits" posts I think there are quite a few readers here who don't understand what this site is about. THEY are the ones who need articles like this one to get them thinking outside the box a little more. I for one see little value in a comment recommending the obvious alternative to go buy a tool.
I work on electronic equipment for a living and often come across these #$@% fasteners out in the field when I don't have any of those cute little special bits with me. For years I have just knocked the center post off with a small screwdriver and then used a standard torx bit to take the screw out. But using a dremel to cut a slot in the head is still a valid alternative and it's much more inventive than "go buy some bits". So I still give this one a thumbs up!

olmon (author)MikeLee2011-09-08

Since you are 'in the business', if you aren't a 'Hack', why don't you have the proper tools for the jobs that you are going to run into. On my own personal items, I will 'bastardize' or replace fasteners that I don't 'like', however, when you are dealing with customer's goods, that is not a 'proper' option. I have cut slots across many oddball fasteners in my years in the business, but if it is on a customer product, I get the proper tool & do it 'right'. The suggestions to get the proper tool are far from ''Lame'', it is the reasonable suggestion. The object of this is to suggest a way to get out of an emergency situation or to deal with something of your own. Not for professionals to use & leave that way..

isaac! (author)olmon2011-11-22

wow, 'you' really 'like' improperly 'using' quotation marks, dont you

olmon (author)isaac!2011-11-23

Go back to your grammar book, Isaac. Find out what quotation marks are before you comment.

MikeLee (author)olmon2011-09-09

Well, actually you assume way too much. I did not promote NOT using the right tool for the job. My point is that this guy is posting a way to remove a security Torx screw if you don't have the right tool and obtaining one for the task at hand is neither critical nor necessary. You yourself pointed that out. (correct us if we are wrong thematthatter). He got bombarded with "go buy some bits" comments. Maybe I assumed too much by thinking that most people already know that such tools exist. That doesn't make me a "Hack". And I don't consider it a hack to break the post on a Torx security screw at the owners request when the tools are not with me. Maybe you do, I don't know. I won't publicly question your professional ethics over MY own assumptions though. I do wish you had been nice enough to get some facts first though.
If you have a response that is relevant to this instructable then please post it. If you really want to know what tools I have, ask me offline, not here. If you just want to throw personal jabs then I will simply ignore you.

thematthatter (author)MikeLee2011-09-09

A professional or technician who is qualified should have the right bits to open the products they intend to fix. Like an Apple repair man should'nt use a butter knife to open an Ipod.
But sometimes your in the field and forget a driver, if you got the correct fastener to fix it and explain to the customer, most people are just as happy because you got their emergency fixed.
This was intended for everyone else, the tinkers, or the people who may know a little about appliances to open products at home with out going to the hardware store or going online to buy bits. Maybe they don't have the space/money or real need to buy a tool just for one or two uses when modifying the screw can work in a pinch and is really quick.

I'm not a repairman, but I work on salary, but per hr of actual work is about $10 an hr, I would have to struggle opening this for an hr to justify spending 6-10 for something i would only use once. Including taking pictures, i had this microwave cabinet open in about 10 minutes.
Mentioning sticks and stones, the first time i opened a computer hard drive i used a 22 LR and shot the thing open. I just did it to see whats inside not realizing the cool magnets in it. But pretty much everything was ruined. if i really wanted to bust into this i would have stuck a bottle of beer in it and turned it on, in 30 secs it would blow apart. if the magnetron wasn't powerful then throwing it off my roof would have opened it too.
This method was a more civilized way of opening something without the correct driver.

Madrigorne (author)thematthatter2011-09-13

If you do throw one off your roof - please record it and post the video. Thank you for the wonderful instructable.

olmon (author)MikeLee2011-09-10

Well, Mike, I see that it is fine for you to make 'Jabs', but you get prickly real quick when a jab comes back atcha. LOL That's OK. Lots of guys like you around. I understood what the reason for this ible was, but didn't feel a need to call all the ones who suggested getting a cheap tool set 'Lame'. I wouldn't have even commented on this ible except that I felt someone should answer your rude post.

Broom (author)MikeLee2011-09-11

Ding ding ding! Winner! YOU get it!

warlock40 (author)MikeLee2011-09-10

Well said. Keyboard trolls ruin creativity and out of box thought. This is a fine contribution to instructables.

ac-dc (author)MikeLee2011-09-09

It's called intelligence, to use the right tool for the job instead of continually fiddling around risking damage and wasting time trying alternate methods.

We understand what the site is about but understand this: Just because you can do something a different way, doesn't necessarily make it sane to do it another way when there are easily obtainable, inexpensive solutions that last a lifetime. Will we all just divert to using sticks and rocks for everything because we want to shy away from tools in general? Doesn't make any sense at all does it, by taking your argument we don't get to have a dremel tool or screwdrivers or anything else, we have to hack some cruder way to do those jobs too.

No, just as you can have a standard torx bit, there is no justification to own standard torx bits if the security bits will do both secure and standard torx.

Treknology (author)ac-dc2011-09-10

Last time I opened a defective hard drive (which I had no intention of repairing), I screwed it down to the metal bandsaw and walked away for 20 mins.

A cross-section combined with other drives conventionally disassembled worked as a wonderful educational tool.

MikeLee (author)ac-dc2011-09-09

Wow, that's quite a rant. Sticks and rocks? And that remark "we don't get to have a dremel tool or screwdrivers"... I don't know where you pulled that out of. I never said anything like that. For the record, I am all FOR using the right tool when you have it or getting the right tool when you can. I did not say "don't buy a tool". My post was about comments like:
"It's more simple to buy screwdriver/bit for these screws, than use a dremel." or "Just go buy the tool." They are not really very constructive when the author is merely trying to show a way to remove such a screw when the tool (for whatever reason) is not available. If you have the tool then use it. If you need the tool, then go get it. If this is the only security Torx screw you will ever remove, then it should be OK to use a dremel, or to knock the post out of the screw, or whatever other way you can think of to get it out. Maybe you should read my post again.

NathanaelScheffler (author)2011-09-06

I think the easiest way to do this would be to get some oven bake clay, such as sculpy, push it into the safety screw keyhole and then bake it, giving you a perfect match for the screw. No power tools necessary!

A prison gaurd I know told me the inmates heat the end of their toothbrushes and push it in. Where there's a will there's a way.
I've tried it. It won't take much torque without shearing or torqueing out, but a new tool is right there handy.
A glass of Ice water (or cold beverage of choice) is useful to speed tool hardening.

isaac! (author)Mtalus2011-11-22

am i the only one noticing the tremendous amount of prison-related interest in this ible??

Broom (author)Mtalus2011-09-11


how would that work? seems that sculpy would just crumble if you applied torque to back the screw out. Security screws are set tight.

From my experience, sculpy has always been pretty solid after it has been cooked properly. Someone should try it.

Broom (author)NathanaelScheffler2011-09-11

Just guessing from the "softened toothbrush handle" idea below, it might work... especially if you don't rely on sculpy for the shaft of the driver, just the tip.

this took less than 30 secs per screw, including cutting and extracting the screw.
A small file and a large screwdriver, or even a hacksaw blade would work in a pinch if someone didn't have a Dremel tool

lucky7xx7 (author)2011-10-22

i usually just drill a small hole in the end of an equal sized bit in essence making my own security bit

garethllewelyn (author)2011-10-12

If the screw is down a hole, try to use a short piece of metal tube fitted down the hole and use the tube as a guide to center a drill that fits down the tube to remove the central post.

PamelaM413 (author)2011-09-09

As a retired correctional officer, I thought it interesting that you were showing inmates how to remove their windows from their cells.....which are all attached with these security screws, LOL! And if you don't think they can somehow get hold of, or more likely CREATE a passable Dremmel tool, you're mistaken! They can turn an electric razor/trimmer into a tattoo gun! Ha...luckily most have no internet subcriptions to Instructables, LOL

tledgerwood (author)PamelaM4132011-09-11

possible,but very complicated. a electric razor has similar motion to a tattoo needle so all you have to do is attach a needle,easy to get compared to a razor. then all that is needed is a ink cartridge from a fountain pen to insert the ink. pimps to do with simple adhesives (tape, PVA glue, sugru etc....) a rotory tool can be fashioned from a cassette tape motor or so on, the trick is to find a motor that goes fast and doesn't stop easily, like a drill or you may be stuck with rubber band twisting. the rest would be easy to improvise or get from around.

vanmankline (author)tledgerwood2011-10-12

You could do it with an electric razor's lateral motion and an emery board (nail file). It would basically work like a mini hacksaw.

Sabata (author)PamelaM4132011-09-13

Any corrections officer knows that inmates don't need Instrucables to learn these things.

stanooch (author)PamelaM4132011-09-12

That really takes the cake! That's about as bad as going into a department store to buy some liquid shoe polish and being accused of alcoholism.

greezus (author)PamelaM4132011-09-12


Broom (author)PamelaM4132011-09-11

Give me a break.

thematthatter (author)PamelaM4132011-09-09

if you are letting some of your inmates get on instructables, then yall got a greater problem than this ha!

matthewtyler1 (author)2011-09-27

or you can use a drill to snap the post out instead, the drill bit doesnt even need to be sharp. the use a normal torque.

mmcammond (author)2011-09-26

or u could take a standard (flat) screwdriver bust the metal peg out and use a torx screwdriver to get the screw out

dmanno (author)2011-09-11

What good hacker doesn't have a set of Torx-TR bits :P.
A drill press can turn most decent quality Torx bits into TR ones too.
But this is an excellent idea for for any screws that you don't have the driver for, just be careful doing this on the smaller screws because it can significantly weaken the screw head and when you go to turn it it can snap off.

srilyk (author)dmanno2011-09-26

So you just have to be careful that first time and replace the screw with some hacker-friendly variety once you succeed. Or just grind the whole head of the screw off and leave that location unfastened ;)

srilyk (author)2011-09-26

If you're lucky enough to have a Harbor Freight nearby, you can also just pick up one of these:

conman (author)2011-09-12

I have always just used a small sturdy flat head in these and torx bits.

ngadhno (author)conman2011-09-19

I always do the same thing. Using a flat head screwdrive (imagine David's star made by two triangles) that reaches two points of a triangle I can unscrew almost any of these screws. :)

dave614 (author)2011-09-17

If you extend the cut on the side enough to cut into the center protuberance, could you then use a regular Torx bit to remove the screw ??

thematthatter (author)dave6142011-09-18

normally i go all the way across, but i had a sleeping newborn and didnt want to wake her.

If you go all the way across you can use a dime if you wanted to open it.

jcarlin123 (author)2011-09-17

This post is nice, but these screws can be easily removed with small vise-grip pliers in about 10 seconds.

marksatterfield (author)2011-09-13

Nice work!

csmith83 (author)2011-09-10

Better to use the correct tool for the job. Like others have mentioned. $6 or so and buy the security bits. My tool kit contains two sets. One very small set for cell phones etc and a larger set for everything else.

Broom (author)csmith832011-09-11

Yeah, "better" - unless you don't have a set handy, and need to remove a screw. Then it's a choice between an hour+ round-trip to a store, or just fix the problem now with the tools on hand.

KE5QMH (author)2011-09-08




thematthatter (author)KE5QMH2011-09-09


Broom (author)thematthatter2011-09-11

Apparently your Shift key is no longer under warranty.

thirdspaced (author)KE5QMH2011-09-10

Troll on dude! I hope you feel better about yourself. This is a great contribution to the site.

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