Author Options:

How To Unscrew Three-Pronged Screws Without a Three-Pronged Screwdriver? Answered

I have a Gamecube controller I want to take apart, but it has triangle screws. They're like Phillips (four-pronged) but only have 3 prongs instead. I don't have a screwdriver for this, so I need a way to unscrew them.


UPDATE: Not trying to be impolite, but I am NOT looking for a place to buy this kind of screwdriver. I am looking for a way to unscrew them WITHOUT the specific screw driver.


if you have a soldering iron... and perhaps some pent-up anger issues... you can try what I did

melt the plastic casing as deep as the screw head and just about 1/3 of the way around and then use your needle nose pliers to rotate the head 1/3 turn each time

its not pretty - but the screws can go back in this way and you can remove them anytime you want... and I feel better - hehe


6 months ago

Grind off 3 alternate points of an appropriate size torx screwdriver


1 year ago

Sorry but I totally fail to see why one would go through all the trouble if a suitable bit or screwdriver can be bought for less than 2 bucks....
You can even get sets of so called security bits for under 20 bucks covering almost all screw heads considered to be a pain without the right tool - including these oval heads.

It's really easy to remove them. Simply find the right size flat head screwdriver that will fit across 2 of the points. Push in firmly with the screwdriver and turn slow and steady to avoid camming out (slipping), or stripping the screwhead. I have never had an issue with them. Just remember, firm pressure, screwdriver fitting tight between 2 points and go slowly. Hope this helps...cheers!

So, just to put this up for anyone needing this in the future: I just took apart a DS Lite with the same evil three-pronged screws, luckily only 4 and they weren't too tight. I couldn't get them to turn with a small hex screwdriver at first, so I rammed in two (yes, two screwdrivers at the same time) small flathead screwdrivers and fidgeted around until I could spin the screw a little bit, about 1.5 rotations, after which forceful application of a hex screwdriver managed to get it out.

The screw design is quite devious, because if you try it with a normal flathead, the flathead rotates inside the screw towards the different points of the three-pointed stars. There is no way to counter this with one screwdriver, but with two small flatheads, both about the same size as one point of the star, you can use one screwdriver to keep the other one stuck inside a single prong. I could try to describe how to do this exactly, but it's quite impossible to see the screw while you're poking at it with two screwdrivers so any actual tactics are out of the question. Just poke around and try spinning both screwdrivers until it feels like you're turning the screw. You have to spin both screwdrivers as if they are one giant screwdriver, so not both screwdrivers individually.

After about 1.5 rotations a single hex or perhaps Philips screwdriver that fits tightly inside the center hole of the three-pronged screw should be enough to get it all the way out when pressed down onto the screw tightly.

Good luck

Jeez thx for the tip I was trying to open a fan, but those devious 3-pronged screws just were so annoying, I tried your tip and it worked with ease.

No problem, I'm glad you're a fan of this tactic ;P

(I'm so sorry)


2 years ago

I drilled the screw's head with an electric drill untill the screw's head disappeared. (So actually I just sanded it down to little pieces with the drill) After that I was able to open the boxing of the device which I wanted to disassemble. By assembling I used new screws.But absolutely no three-pronged screws.We don't like them ,dont we? ;)

Good luck!

A small enough hex bit might do the trick.

I used your idea and it worked for me! Thanks!!

I have a complete hex key set (imperial and metric) and I kept trying different sizes until I found one that went into the very middle of the head of the screw and was able to slowly loosen the screw out.

Old thread but I'll answer anyway. Easy substitute for a triangle or 3 pronged screwdriver- I used a pair of tweezers. One prong inserted into the middle of the screw and the other on the outside of the screw head. I was able to grab and unscrew within seconds.


How to use screwdriver open Mc donalds toy?

Use 2.3*50 screwdriver.

可使用三角形2.3 * 50螺絲起子打開.
(至 高雄市 中將 175元 或 和樺 購買 或網站
購買 Pro’sKit 寶工 SD-081F 3PCS三角型精密起子組)
已有成功打開經驗, 但即使已順利拿出三角形螺絲, 有些玩具接合處仍緊緊黏著, 須再強力撬開(例如: 史瑞克系列)

I had troubles with secure srews many times but always found the right tool or a way to remove the damn things.

When it comes to these thre pronged screws it helps to know what tool you actually need.

The smaller variants have been introduced by Nintendo in their consoles, I think the original Gameboy was the first device that made a lot of use of these special srews.

To get the right tool search for a "Tri wing screwdriver" - this is the correct term for them.

Quite easy to find in different sizes and qualities on Ebay and basically all good electronics stores (mostly in sets with other security bits).

Without the right tool it is often impossible to remove them - that's why they are designed with three wings.

In most cases they have not been tightend up hard but instead some thread locking glue was put on, if you encounter one of those with the wrong tool it usually end in drilling out the screw.

I do recommend getting a tri-wing screwdriver set for the job but if it is a one off there is another way that can help:

It requires to be able to remove at least one of the screws, if they are reachable it is possible to undo them with pliers.

Drill a hole into a piece of steel that fits the screw (drop in).

Now use a copper nail or thick piece of copper wire and heat it up to glowing temp.

Let it cool down - this softens the metal.

Using a little hammer or similar "press" the copper into the screw head.

It won't make a perfect fit, especially on tiny screws, but if you get a half-decent shape it should do the trick.

Heat the copper again till glowing but now drop it into cold water - the copper will be hard again and should allow you to remove the other screws if not too tight.

I've done this with a nail of the right size. Just file or grind it to a triangular cross section.

my need to open a blower for an inlatable slide, to troubleshoot why it does not work, is fastened together with many security screws that require a security bit that has the shape of a triangle, to insert or extract the screws. I have a couple of sets of security bits, and one of them is a set anyone can buy at Harbor Freight. Trouble.is, not one bit in the set has a three prong or triangle shaped bit whatsoever. Just the normal sizes of torx bits, spanner bits, square bits, flat head bits, philips bits and believe it or not round bits. Not one trianglular bit. My othe bit set, same story. So, my need for a triangle bit to extract many triangular bit scews, prompted me to search online for such a bit, and this long and apparently old thread popped up as the first hit. Not one conversation in this lengthy thread involves the triangle shaped head of a security bit such as what I need was described. Of course, I did resort to using the smallest flat head that would fit one side of the triangle recessed in the screw head, and carefully extracted two of them. What a pain in the ***! I've got many more that that, to get to the actual motor, to see with my meter if there is a short somewhere. I think I've narrowed the fault to the circuit board insde the electric plug that has a reset button on it similar to a GFI outlet. I've ohmed out the connections from the electric cord to the toggle switch, and to the FET, or huge capacitor,. Connections are good, no break that I can find. But to be absolutely certain the faults rests somewhere in the circuit board inside the plug that connects to an electrical outlet, I need to get to the motor that blows air to inflate a huge inlatable water slide that takes up the entire length of our side yard, and meter out all the connections at the motor, requiring such a security bit. It's just easier to work with the proper tools, when doing any kind of job. Now, being that my situation is slightly different than a Nintendo mod, or a fast food kid meal prize piece that have similar security screws, I believe my need for such a security bit is very different. The bits are manufactured somewhere in order to make use of such screws in the manufacturing of products that are intended to protect the average person who took a stupid pill, from being stupid and hurting themselves, or to protect the manufacturer from future or probable law suits because of stupid people taking stupid pills and being stupid! I just want to see where the fault is, in my equipment and see if I can avoid seeking out the repacement blower for the inlatable slide. I've never seen such a plug that has a built-in GFI circuit board inside the 3 prong plug for a 3 prong electrical outket before. It was quite I interesting to see the inside of that plug as well. And like many circuit boards, they are proprietary, and not easily obtained to be able to replace; which means resorting to ohming out the entire circuit board's individual resistors, capacitors, traces, and thyristors. What a pain in the ***!


4 years ago

Sweet! the 2mm screwdriver worked, good thinking! Dunno why people love to not answer a question when it is asked, they like to give 100 other reasons why you shouldnt do what your asking. Just stfu and answer or dont! ..I..

Does anyone know where to buy a HOLT 3 prong security bit?

no. why are you in here. this thread is seven years old. i was 15 when i made it.

I need a number 6 Holt 3 prong security bit

Not trying to be impolite, but you can't do a proper job without the right tools. A small monetary investment would give you an infinitely better result.

I want to do this job today, not tomorrow, and not drive 45 minutes to a hardware store. Is it so much to ask to find an alternative method laying around the house? I don't think it's any of your business why a person wants to find an alternative. I also know for a fact that using a slightly different screwdriver than the real security bit isn't going to give 'an infinitely better result'. It's not a cake. It's a screw. It goes in and it comes out.

"I want"? So you created a new account, replacing the "Aeshir" account which actually posted this question? Interesting. Otherwise, I presume you've responded to this six year old comment (to which the actual, real original author already replied) just to be a troll. You've certainly waited long enough.

yo i'm just poppin in to say i have no idea who that guy is

I've unscrewed stuff without the right screwdriver before, and I'm not willing to spend money on a set of screwdrivers i'll only use once. I'm just fooling around anyways.

I find it easiest to just take a Dremel, put on medium-high speed and jam it right into the screw.
The screw will be driven in, yes, but once the toy/gamecube/etc comes apart the screw can be removed and replaced with a normal one.

Caution: This can f**k up the outside, so if it's for a delicate project or you want said (thing that you're opening) to be clean and fine to look at, it's not a good idea.

Man, this helped me out heaps! I wish I'd found this before I special-ordered a tri-wing on eBay... Thanks a million!

I <3 Instructables!

Win Guy

Torx screwdrivers work.

amazon has it all!


you can use a 2mm flathead screwdriver
see here

Dremel or angle grinder + stipper screwdriver = new screwdriver
I have made my own before to open a transformer
good luck

Get a plastic rod, melt the end and push it into the screws head, that works for me.

It would be best to just purchase the particular bit that you will need... The construction of the screw is strong, and if it is built like I immagine, the screw is below the surface of the plastic... You can't get to it with dikes, vice grips, or any type of plier... You probably can't get to it with anything to cut a slot to use a regular screwdriver... Anyway you look at it you will strugle without the bit... The plastic that the screw is screwed into is cheap and if you are struggling with it will damage the plastic thread... Then you are going to have big trouble keeping the controller back together after you are finished...

You can buy sets of security bits, designed to open almost every supposedly-unopenable screw fitting. However, there is only one security screw I would like to be able to open, and I cannot find a driver to fit it - the triangular-holed screws used to hold McDonalds and Burger King toys together. I tried contacting both companies, both in the UK and US, and neither company would help.

Could you not just dremel/sand/file down the sides of an allen key? Or use one on it's own with no modification?

Kiteman, do you mean something like in the following pic ?

if so, then the bit looks like this: Security Bit

That seems to be the very thing!

I have read that some people have had luck heating plastic up to where it just starts to melt and then pressing the plastic onto the screw head so that it forms to the irregular shape. Let cool and then you have a custom screwdriver. I doubt this would work on all but might be worth a try if you're in a hurry.

A flathead works for that.

Is this security screw the one you are speaking of? If so, they are constructed in such a way as to not be able to be removed in the normal way.

The bit for this screw may be able to remove it, but it looks like it may also only work to tighten the screw.

If you are not out to destroy the fastener, it may be difficult at best.

I have had to remove my share of Phillips head screws that were rounded out, with a hacksaw (to make a slot) and a regular screw driver.

Yeah, I think it's that one.

Well, the one linked to is, as has been mentioned, not able to be removed without either the special bit (also linked to) or, if it is a domed head as in the picture, a slot can be hacksawed into it for a screwdriver's use. If it is flush to the box.....well.

If it's flush to the box, use a screw extractor! If you can't get the extractor started, drill a small pilot hole in the screw head so the extractor has something to bite into. I think the hacksaw method as identified by Goodhart is the fastest and most positive method. It also would not ruin the fastener unless you were a bit messy with the hacksaw! :) Happy tampering!!

Two options: One, use a small strait screwdriver that fits some of the hole or two, grind/file a nail to make your own bit. If you use the screwdriver, it tends to round out the screws and it's difficult to use because it doesn't center itself on the screw. If you make one out of a nail, bend the nail to make it easier to grip. I've used both on Gamecube and McDonald's toys. They both work, the screwdriver is faster if you only have to deal with one or three screws, but for more than that, it's worth the time to make a bit.

Well, it's not quite like that. It looks like a Phillips, but it only has three prongs. It's not twisted like that.

Not quite -- that is constructed to be impossible (ha!) to remove. This is just designed to not be opened by the average joe.