The Allen screw is one of the best screws for holding components firmly together, and using it but what happens when they get stripped? These screws, otherwise called, Socket heads, have hexagonal sockets and, at first, may seem complicated to be removed should they get stripped. They might prove a bit problematic if you do not use the right tools.
Have you struggled to remove a stripped Allen screw? It isn’t out of the ordinary, and it’s safe to say this has happened to most handy householders or workshop repairers. However, in this article, you’ll find out how to remove a stripped Allen screw and save yourself hours of trouble using tools that are readily in your pack. Read more to learn about all the tips and tools needed to get out that peeving stripped screw.
Tools Needed To Remove A Stripped Allen Screw
Luckily, there are different methods to remove a stripped Allen screw. And one of them is sure to work for you should you encounter this problem. While you plan to pick the most appropriate removal method, here are some of the tools you should have:
- Torx wrench
- Rubber/Elastic band
- Channel-lock pliers
- Screw extractor kit
- Hammer and screwdriver
- A cutting tool like a hacksaw or a rotary tool
- Propane torch
- Safety gear such as gloves and goggles
How To Remove A Stripped Allen Screw
An Allen screw gets stripped due to incorrect handling and using improper tools. When stripped, it’s almost impossible to have it out with screwdrivers or an Allen wrench when stripped. However, there are other techniques to use that guarantee getting the screw out and saving you a load of energy and time. The following are the different methods to remove a stripped Allen screw:
1. Use a Torx Wrench
An Allen screw fits most with a hex key or Allen wrench, as it is called, a driver with a similarly shaped internal recess used in removing such screws as the Allen screw. However, chances are the hex key can no longer grip the screw since it is stripped and will, thus, be fruitless in removing it. In this case, you may switch the hex key with a Torx wrench with a six-pointed star shape that promises more grip than the hex key. You should have one in your toolbox at home, or you may purchase one online or in any local hardware store near you.
The Torx wrench should be just a bit bigger than the hole of the screw. Fit it firmly in the hole and turn it anti-clockwise until the screw has been successfully loosened.
2. Place A Rubber Band Over The Screw Head
A rubber or an elastic band can assist the Allen wrench in attaining more grip on the screw. First, search for rubber or elastic band that can completely go over the screw head. Then, insert the Allen wrench into the screw hole and try to unscrew it as you would normally. If the Allen wrench has gained enough grip, it would be easier to get the screw out.
Pro tip: if you can’t get hold of a rubber band, you may use a rubber glove in its stead.
3. Lubricate The Screw Hole With Friction Drops
One more solution to your Allen wrench having a loose fit is applying friction drops to the screw hole to fill in the extra gaps that make grasping the screw impossible. Friction drops comprise a solution of metal powder that covers loose parts between the wrench and screw hole and helps their easy contact.
Apply one or two friction drops into the screw hole and insert the Allen wrench. Wriggle the Allen wrench around the hole a bit to ensure the circulation and the grasp of the friction drops onto the wrench. Then, you may begin unscrewing the screw.
4. Use Channel-Lock Pliers
A pair of pliers is a priceless tool for removing a stripped screw with a raised head. The pliers must grasp the screw head firmly to keep it from slipping away. Luckily, channel-lock pliers are an excellent tool for grabbing things due to their tightly gripping pliers’ jaws. Once you’ve fastened the pliers around the screw head, turn the screw with the plier anti-clockwise until it loosens up.
Pro tip: a vice grip is also effective for this technique
5. Try Using Shock To Loosen The Screw
If the screw head is not overly damaged, then it is likely that shock can make the screw loosen out. However, this doesn’t mean you should apply electrical forces to the screw; a hammer and a screwdriver will do the trick. First, insert a screwdriver that fits into the screw hole and start by striking a hammer on the bottom of the screw lightly while the screwdriver is at the center of the screw head. Then increase the intensity of the hit as you go on from medium to high forces.
Pro tip: wear safety glasses to avoid metal bits getting in your high. Also, do not use this method if the screw is fastened to a delicate material that may break from the impact.
6. Unscrew With A Screw Extractor
Using a screw extractor is a cheap way out of your trouble should you find removing the Allen screw tasking. A screw extractor has a drill bit and a removal bit on two ends. First, attach the extractor to the drill and into the screw hole deeply, then drill a hole in the screw head. After creating a shallow hole in the screw, remove the drill bit from the extractor and insert the removal part in the hole you have formed. Then, unscrew the screw by drilling backward.
Pro tip: if you don’t have a screw extractor, you can get one from any hardware store near you. It will come in handy after use.
7. Cut The Screw Head Into A Flat-Screw Slot
You can cut a slot in the screw head to enable you to use a flat-head screwdriver to unscrew it. To do this, get the cutting tool; an angle grinder with a rotary blade or a hacksaw can work. You may mark out the part of the screw head you want to cut, then carefully cut the slot with the cutting tool without damaging other parts of the screw or material to which it is attached. Once a slot is nicely cut, use a flathead screwdriver that appropriately fits in the slot and unscrew the screw.
Pro tip: use safety goggles and gloves while performing this technique. Also, do not cut the slot too deep in the screw head.
8. Use Heat To Loosen The Screw
Heating the metal is another effective technique for loosening out stripped Allen screws, and this can be done with flame. Before doing this, put on safety goggles; then light up a propane torch and hold it over the screw hole for five to ten seconds. Then, insert the Allen wrench and try to get the screw out.
Pro tip: don’t use the method to remove screws from inflammable and delicate materials.
How To Prevent Allen Screw From Stripping
After getting out the stripped Allen bolt, you must avoid getting into future such situations to avoid going through the trouble all over again. These few tips will keep your Allen screw from getting stripped:
- Use the appropriate hex key for your screw: using a key that is either too big or too small for your screw is one of the primary reasons it gets stripped. Use the proper size to ensure your screw is appropriately screwed in. Also, do not use old or worn-out hex keys, as it is capable of getting the screw stripped.
- Maintain even pressure while screwing: when driving the screw, whether in or out, you’ll need to apply some pressure to either get it out or ensure it’s properly locked in. However, if you go too hard on driving the screw that it becomes too tight and the driver skips out of the screw head, you’ll be helping the screw to get stripped. Also, do not apply light pressure while screwing. So, maintain an even pressure while using torque to drive the screw.
- Use a liquid grip: You should apply a drop of liquid grip on the screw head as soon as you notice any signs of stripping or slipping. The liquid grip improves the grip of your wrench in the screw head. After use, you can wipe away the liquid grip from the screw head with a wet rag. Alternatively, you can add a piece of tape over the head of the wrench before inserting it into the screw head. It saves the screw from stripping and also helps grip the screw head.
Getting a stripped Allen screw out is easy if you are armed with the right tools and tips. So you need not get a professional or spend hours trying to remove a stripped Allen screw. Instead, if you have some or all of the required tools, you can use one of the recommended techniques to remove the disturbing screw.
Meanwhile, as much as it may be normal to get your screw stripped, it is easily preventable by using the right tools and handling the screws with appropriate torque and pressure. The right tools are always the solution to a household anomaly.