Author Options:

How to extract a broken bit from a phillips head screw? Answered

Anyone have a good way to extract a broken phillips bit from a screw head? It's the common #2 phillips head. The screw is a #10, stainless steel. When I was driving it in the bit snapped off so that it fills the slots in the screw head. I've tried picks and punches but it's still stuck in there. The screw is countersunk and it's in cosmetic wood (can't dig it out). I can't drill it and use an easy out because the bit is too hard to drill. To make things more difficult, the screw is inserted upward and the piece is a railing so it isn't movable. If there is a better forum for this question please let me know.


The dilemma I had was on an Al sliding glass door roller, the head broke off using a hand held drill. I used heat then ice, WD 40, tapped with awl, cold chisel, used magnet, then I used the broken bit and drill to back out the screw, seemed to easy to be true, however, the heat, tapping and lubricant loosened the rusted screw, and the head of the broken bit had enough to catch and back it out.


9 years ago

I'm having a hard time imagining how something could get stuck like that, but here's something that might work: If you have a dremel, you could use a small cutting wheel (one that has been ground down a bit already) to put a notch in the screw head, unscrew it with a flathead and try again. . . then again, I'm having a hard time visualizing it from the description so I might be way off.

Have you tried a tiny squirt of WD-40, before trying to pry, or tap it out?

I haven't figured out how to do that without getting oil all over the place. A tiny squire would be easy if the screw were not upside down.

Some of the cans come with a tiny straw to attach to the nozzle, but yeah, it can come out pretty fast; maybe wrap a rag around the end of the straw and press that end against the edge of where you wanted to squirt.

Thanks for your thoughts. I'm going to try a couple things today and will post the results. If all else fails I can dig out the bit (which will ruin the screw head) and then use some sort of drill & extract method.

If you find yourself a pointed tool or even a nail and put the point in at the edge of one of the stars "points" and give it a tap with a hammer, a light one it should pop it out, also try a magnet, sometimes it turns out they're just stuck in an awkward way to get at it with a tool...

Thanks, I've tried that. I've had this problem in the past and your suggestion (sharp point and tap) is what usually works. Not always, but most of the time. In the past, however, it hasn't been a problem to just leave the broken bit in the head. This time it is.

As caitlinsdad said heat might help... You could also try a small chisel or some other hardened steel object and a good whack, something that fits in to the size of the head itself, if it was a magnetic one it'll definitely shatter. Soldering on a wire could well do the job aswell... If you're really stuck a small drill bit could remove enough of the bit to get a grip using an easy out, if you get a reasonably powerful drill and a metal drilling bit (as in for drilling in metal) and get it bogged in you might pop it out by catching it on the threads. If you can get at the other end of the screw any way then you could file a flat side on it and unscrew it with pliers. or just hammer it out and put another in... you could try hitting the stuck head with the head of another philips #2 using a hammer, it could work. If it's really important you could get a pick or something under the counter sunk head an use an eraser underneath the pick as a lever to wrench the screw out, you might risk some exterior damage but it could enough to get it out. If you have a small stone grinding bit like those on dremels a cone shaped one could remove it enough to use the easy out but it would be pretty slow to do.

One more thing, was this on a drill or by hand? It's just I can imagine a hammer drill breaking it but using one would be overkill. As for by hand it'd be a fair surprise, I've twisted the heads and ground them by hand but the metal would have to be incredibly fatigue to break off in it.

It wasn't a hammer drill but it was a cordless screwdriver (drill/driver). I get too many blisters turning them in by hand (over 500 screws in this project, and counting). No luck yet but a lot of good suggestions, many of which would be a lot easier if the screw weren't upside down in a slot in the wood.

Glueing, epoxying or soldering a small something on to use as a handle may work, it would come off the smoother surface of the screwhead and take the bit with it...

. I would try: 1) Turn the screw so the head is down and rap it a few times 2) Use a magnet 3) Use a punch to try to rock the bit out 4) solder/braze a wire to the bit tip

maybe a strong magnet might work. THat's pretty amazing that that happenened. I have no clue!

I was going to suggest that, but then I realised that it would only have a chance is the screw was brass.

If it's worth the expense, maybe buy a jewellery-making or horologist's drill and bit, drill a tiny hole on the fragment, screw in an tiny screw and pull.

heat - like caitlinsdad said make a slot in the screw with dremel and screw it out with flat screwdriver drill 2 holes in the screw head (from 2 sides of the X) with dremel. screw out with 2-point key (sharp end pliers can be used instead of key. flat screwdriver can be converted into a key) apply tiny bit of epoxy to the end of broken screw driver the bit came from. stick it in so the bit is epoxied back to the screw driver. pull out hammer in a thin nail from the end of the X if everything else fails - solder a copper thing like very thick copper wire to the screw head (using normal soldering tools) and screw out

Try shooting in a bit of WD-40 or penetrating oil to see if it will work loose. Maybe put the tip of a soldering iron to the screw and picking at the bit to see if it helps. I guess there is nothing to grip on with just the tip of the bit embedded in the screw head.