How to deal with a tiny stripped screw on a gadget

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That’s a common way to do it, but if the head snaps off, you might be screwed. So I would first try to grab the head with a pair of pliers and turn it. The torque you can get out of this should convince most screws. If you have trouble getting a grip, try locking pliers, a most wonderful tool. There seem to be some quite small ones available. As an alternative, you could try nicking the sides of the head so that you can fit a wrench or a nut over it.


Off sides.


You can even get pliers specifically designed to remove screws…
I got mine from the fine folks at SparkFun, but it looks like they don’t carry them anymore.


Oooh, specialized pliers that I will likely lose in my next relocation, before ever using them? I love it!


If you don’t have locking pliers… get locking pliers.


500 internet points to @beschizza beschizza for not including 5 minutes of himself talking about how easy it is to solve this problem.
(not saying Rob does that; rather, way too many “howto” videos seem to feel this is a requisite part of the howto)

Also, most curious what he felt the need to bleep out…


I would never recommend this method. You’re going to blast small metalic grit all over your motherboard–possibly shorting out connections or getting in to moving parts and causing abrasion. I’d be very careful trying this method and only use it as a last resort. Better would be to use a stripped screw removal tool or one of the pliars already shown in this thread.


Naaah. It was the vibration and sparks from the rotating knives which scared the screw into acquiescence.


Indeed, I’d at least cover the rest of the motherboard with something before trying this method.


For non-electronics, I would recommend covering it with tape and only having a hole where the part you are working on is, but peeling tape off electronics can be even more dangerous as that can generate high voltages which would also fry parts.


We have a ridiculously large pile of static-free mylar shipping pouches. Been saving all of yours too, right? Make a blanket of those…

… bust out that Dremel, and pray… and yeah I’d probably want a mask or something to keep particles of flying crap out of my lungs, which already have issues in any case. Keep a vacuum cleaner handy?

We have a joke here that our office should be called H.O.L.E. (Home of Legacied Equipment). I have threatened to pave our crumbling driveway using nothing but dead hard drives. Our “bench” is often most horizontal surfaces in the office (but not the server racks). We constantly have to take computers apart. Sometimes they resist. We always try all the non-Dremel-based options first. Dremels do have their place though, as a last resort. Unless and until our teenager creates those boutique nano-repair-bots that he claims will totally work.

Cursing helps a lot. And making sure not to have too much caffeine the day of the repair. Steady hands, steady… hands…

This thing has saved our hides more than once for tiny repair jobs:

NB: if you are bothered by LEDs (or their controllers) that flicker a lot, track down one with an incandescent bulb (screw-in aka “Edison base”). LED illumination for fine detail work was driving me crazy. Maybe extremely expensive LED magnifying lamps work better…


Cheers. This is basically a test for "do people want howto/fix videos that show the fix immediately without a 20 second theme song and several minutes of talking both before and after the 10 seconds of useful footage, which must thereby be hunted for until youtube craps the bed and you have to reload and watch the whole damned thing.


I guess great minds really do think alike, I’ve used this method, too. but it was on a bike.

yes, emphasis on the plural. they store easy, too

good point. in his defense, the bulk of the grit was sprayed left, along the plane of the grinding disc. but, one imagines there must have been some level of particulate cloud around the area even how Rob did it, so I agree some type of cover would be best practice.

Now, had he ground the head perpendicularly, that would’ve fouled the mobo terribly, likely with a bad result.





If you really have to though, just tape over everything except the screw head, dremel it, and pull off the tape.

Edit - I see @willmore got there before me!


Adam Savage said somewhere in his podcast, there’s an ancient piece of advice for young newspaper reporters: When you’re writing a piece, throw away the first para. With that in mind, he said, when you’re making a how-to video, throw away the first couple of minutes.


Just a word of warning to anyone weighing their options. When looking for ways to pull out a stripped screw, you’ll run into these things:

They are utter bullshit.


I work with an idiot who has some of these. I have had to unfuck several items he’s tried to get screws out of that he originally b0rked by putting the screws into said item. He, and those damned things, are a menace.