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How to Unscrew a Stuck Screw

Not only those who own a vintage car or a motorcycle are familiar with the problem of stuck screw shops, which fight with all their might against leaving their place. Stuck screws cannot be loosened by force, possibly even with the wrong tool. On the contrary: you provoke that the rounded or rusty screw will also lose its head and the whole action will only become more difficult. So that you don’t despair, we have put together some tips on how to loosen stuck screws and how your project won’t fail.

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The Methods of How to Unscrew a Stuck Screw

Basically, you don’t have to resort to brutal methods to loosen rusty and stuck screws. Small tricks such as good lubrication, other tools such as the screw extractor or heat often help. Which method you use depends on why your screw is not loose and why it is not going to get loose. Is it rusty, jelly-like, broken off, or just totally frayed? If all means fail, the only thing that helps is drilling or reaching for the screw extractor shop, which we will explain to you at the end.


Before we really get started, let’s play it safe and remind you that you may be turning in the wrong direction all the time. Many screws and nuts are provided with a left thread. This is often the case with alternators, but clutch baskets and drive shafts often work the other way around then you are used to. Make sure you turned in the right direction. Maybe your problem is already solved.

How to Unscrew a Stuck Screw with creeping oil

Rusty screws in particular can be loosened very well with proper lubrication. Creeping oil is best for this because it penetrates deep enough into even the smallest cracks. We recommend the good old WD-40Shop. Practically available in a spray can, the lubricant creeps into the screw connection and, with some agents, also chemically dissolves the rust. The friction is reduced and the screw loosens. Have a little patience and let the penetrating oil work for a few hours. Sometimes the spraying has to be repeated.


If you don’t have a WD-40 on hand, which gives us a bit of food for thought among craftsmen and DIY enthusiasts, then Cola also helps when loosening the screws. The cola contains phosphoric acid, which can dissolve rust. We have already described this principle in more detail in our article Solving rust – methods, and tips. All you have to do is drop it on the screw and it will start to work. This works particularly well with only slightly rusted screws and may have to be repeated several times.

How to Unscrew a Stuck Screw with heat and cold

You don’t have enough patience and time to wait for the slow penetrating oil? Then you can also loosen stuck screws with heat or cold. When stuck screws freeze over, rust and iron shrink to different degrees. This leads to the fact that the cold shock loosens the oxide layer from the metal and you get the screw loosely turned again. This method may or may not work.

When proceeding with heat, you use the same principle, only the other way around. Here, too, everything revolves around the principle that rust and metal expand differently when they are heated. This allows the screw to be removed again, but should never be used again. The material is severely damaged by heating with a hot air blower or Bunsen burner, becomes brittle and porous.

If you cannot loosen the rusty screw after heating it up, let it cool down until it is still warm but no longer hot and use the penetrating oil. It can then penetrate even better because the metal, which is still warm, creates additional capillaries for the oil and when it cools down, the oil is really sucked in.


It might sound a bit strange at first, but a rubber band can help. You need it so that the screwdriver can grip the screw head better. You need a fairly wide rubber band for this, one that can be found on mason jars, for example. You place this over the drive of the screw (the screw head) so that it is fully covered. The rubber increases the adhesion and the screwdriver shop grips better. This trick is particularly effective with frayed drives and you can loosen the stuck screw.

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How to Loosen Screw with the Screwdriver

Screws that are particularly stubborn can be removed with a screw extractor, also known as a left extractor or simply a pig’s tail. However, this method is also a bit more complex and you need additional tools for it. But if the screw has broken off, for example, and you do not want to drill it out or want to throw away the entire part that is hanging on the screw or the other way around, then there is usually only this way.

In addition to the screw extractor, you also need a flat-file shop, a hammer shop, a grain shop, a drill and a metal drill and cutting oil or penetrating oil. First, you grind the stump of the broken screw off smoothly. Then you make a recess in the metal with a hammer and punch. Now you drill out the point marked with the center punch with a really sharp metal drill shop. In this case, the cutting oil or penetrating oil is used for cooling, should it be necessary. The drill bit should be about half the diameter of the screw.

Once you have prepared the screw so far, you grab the screw extractor and insert it into the hole. Now turn to the left until the screw starts to loosen. Doesn’t go crazy in one jerk, but always a quarter turn after the next. So you don’t risk that the left extractor will tear off as well.


If you have an angle grinder on hand, you can also cut a small groove in the screw head. In this way, you create a drive that the screwdriver can grip, especially with round screws. But you have to proceed carefully and really only grind a fine groove into it, otherwise, the head can be completely pushed apart or you can completely destroy the screw. Of course, this does not work with countersunk screws.


Of course, you can’t do anything about rust at first. But it does help, especially outdoors and in damp rooms, to pay attention to screws and nuts in the shop and all other fastening material to corrosion-resistant materials such as stainless steel. Far from that, it pays to work carefully when tightening and always use the right tool and the right bits. Also, check your screw connections regularly, then you can see in good time whether the rust is attacking, for example, and you can still replace them in time.

Now you know about the best methods for loosening stuck screws and you can get down to work. Of course, there are other tricks, but most of them turn into violence, such as working the screw with a hammer or using a lever like a pipe. In case of doubt, these will not help you, but make your problem even worse. So try out our methods first. If you have discovered, tried, and found another cool method in your everyday home and craftsman’s life, then introduce it to us in a comment. We always look forward to furthering suggestions and tips.

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