Introduction: Make a Broken Screw Extractor

Picture of Make a Broken Screw Extractor

If you've ever used small screws in hardwood then you've probably experienced the joy of broken screws! Most likely you were installing a hinge and need to place another screw in the exact location of the broken screw. What do you do now? Having faced this dilemma multiple times I came up with this a simple extractor which works quickly to remove the screw while allowing you to plug the hole and try again. Similar extractor are available for purchase however they break easily and commonly only add to your frustration. This tool is robust, cuts cleanly and will last for a long time. Let me show you how to make it.

Step 1: Supplies & Materials

Picture of Supplies & Materials

I got this idea when I found a 4mm deep socket on sale at Home Depot for $2. It's the perfect size. The outside diameter is just slightly bigger than 1/4" which means a 1/4" wooden dowel can be used to plug the hole it makes. The inside diameter is just big enough to accept the broken screw end as you're drilling it out (depending on the size screw used). This size works well with #4 and #6 screws like you would use on a piano hinge. This concept could be used with any size screw using an appropriately sized socket.

Here's what you need to make and use this extractor:

4mm deep socket

Dremel tool with cutting disk and grinding stone wheel

Drill

17/64" drill bit

Socket adaptor tip for your drill

1/4" wood dowel

Wood glue and sandpaper

Step 2: Making the Extractor

Picture of Making the Extractor

Essentially what you are going to make is a 2 tooth hole saw on the end of the socket. To do this simply use a Dremel cutting disk and make a slot in the socket tip roughly 3/16" deep. Create each tooth by grinding off the extra metal on a diagonal line from the end of the socket to the bottom of the cut groove on both sides. When you hold the socket with the end upright the point of the tooth should be on the right.

When I initially tried out the extractor I had made I was quite disappointed as it didn't cut at all. I finally realized when I ground the tips I made it backwards. If you look closely at the pictures you can see the point of the each tooth is on the left and can only cut when the drill is spinning backwards. When I reversed the direction on my drill it cut like a champ! It works so well I've never bothered to make another and how to use it is a tightly held shop secret. Keeps it from walking off!

Step 3: Extracting a Broken Screw.

Picture of Extracting a Broken Screw.

To extract the screw simply drill with your mini hole saw around the screw end. To do this you need a 1/4" socket adaptor chucked up in your drill to accept the socket. I have found that a shallow 17/64" hole drilled over the broken screw really helps to keep the extractor from wandering (not pictured). As you can see in the 3rd picture this little tool drills a very clean hole. Continue drilling until you feel the screw loosen and remove it.

Step 4: Starting Over

Picture of Starting Over

Now that your broken screw is removed you can simply plug the hole with a 1/4" hardwood dowel and try again. I primarily have used this little extractor when installing piano hinges. The beauty is the piano hinge covers the dowel completely so this quick repair is not visible on your finished project.

To avoid using this extractor my best tip is to drill a pilot hole and use a good quality steel screw to thread each hole before installing the brass screws. Small steel screws are much harder to break and this avoids messing around with repairs.

I hope you will make this little extractor and keep it handy in your shop. You still won't enjoy breaking screws but at least you can avoid freaking out about it. I hope this instructable was helpful. Thanks for reading it.

Comments

JH58 (author)2017-02-17

great in an emergency. look into some left handed drill bits. i keep some on hand.

install as normal but run drill in reverse. drill will catch the screw and back it out.

kentdvm (author)JH582017-02-18

Interesting tip. Thank you. I will get a couple. I typically use spiral extractors but just too big for these little screws.

JobbersJays12 (author)2017-02-13

Great idea but you coul make larger ones for stripped screws.

kentdvm (author)JobbersJays122017-02-14

I think so. I'd probably give it a few more teeth.

johneffer (author)2017-02-13

Wouldn't a plug cutter do the same job?

kentdvm (author)johneffer2017-02-14

You could but the hole would be bigger and show outside your hinge. A 1/4" plug cutter makes close to a 1/2" hole. Also my plug cutter has an odd outside diameter so would need to fit a dowel to plug it.

Arnold9801 (author)2017-02-13

Brilliant and Thank you for sharing your idea.

mach1950 (author)2017-02-13

Very nice tip, really useful thank you.

kentdvm (author)2017-02-10

Thanks everyone! Glad you found this helpful.

Snowberry (author)2017-02-09

Outstanding! I'll be making one of these for sure. Thanks

asrcav8r (author)2017-02-09

You have a core saw (mini size!)

Very nice, I'll be going thru my surplus sockets tomorrow.

pipp058 (author)2017-02-09

Brilliant!!!

Stish (author)2017-02-08

Very nice life hack. I had this problem lately with a screw made of brass. I'll keep your idea in mind for the next time.

Cheers.

discostu956 (author)2017-02-08

Awesome-thanks for sharing!

fs woodworking (author)2017-02-08

Awesome tip!!! Will definitely make one!

thebear1 (author)2017-02-08

thanks for posting neat little tip

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