How To Remove A Stripped Allen Set Screw

Do Allen set screws ring any bell? Most of us are not familiar with that name, but surely you’ve already seen one.

Most commonly known as socket screws, these bolts are characterized by a hexagonal internal drive integrated into their heads. They’re a great option when you need higher torque and clamping force.

But have you ever found yourself in a situation where you have a stripped Allen screw you need to remove? These screws can easily be stripped when you don’t remove them properly.

If yes, you know that it’s very hard to do. If your answer is no, imagine prying a splinter under your skin.

How To Remove A Stripped Allen Set Screw

Whether the answer is a yes or no, it’s not the end of the world. There are ways to remove those problematic Allen screws.

Below are the top ways to remove a stripped Allen screw.

After reading this post, we’re a hundred percent sure that you’ll remove any stripped Allen screw in an instant. Let’s get started!

Check If Shock Can Loosen Out The Screw

No, it’s not what you think.

We’re not suggesting you send pulses of electricity to a piece of metal. What we meant by shock is applying swift blows to the screw cap.

Dealing with sudden strong blows can loosen the screw, so it’s easier to remove.

Materials Needed

  • Safety gear such as goggles and gloves
  • A screwdriver
  • A hammer

Method

Loosen Out The Screw

  1. Start with swift but gentle blows first. A softer approach lessens the damage on the surrounding of the screw head and the cap head itself.
  2. If the socket screw doesn’t budge, hit it harder. Make sure to hit the screw head and not the area around it.
  3. If the screw is placed deep, you can use a screwdriver. Place the screwdriver’s head on the screw’s drive but don’t put too much pressure on it.
  4. Strike the end of the screwdriver’s handle with medium to high force. Always remember to stop if your screwdriver slides out of or begins to shred the screw head even more.

Apply Heat

Another way to remove a stubborn and stripped Allen screw is to apply some heat.

Fair warning, this method is not suitable most of the time as it needs a flame source like a torch.

It’s not apt to use it when your socket screw is in a wooden material like a piece of furniture. The method should be your last resort.

However, the screw will completely be loosened when you use this method.

Materials Needed

  • Safety equipment such as gloves, a mask, and goggles
  • A butane torch lighter
  • An Allen wrench(or sometimes called an Allen key) or pliers
  • A handy fire extinguisher
  • Wet rag or water in a squeeze bottle

Apply Heat

Method

  1. Wipe the area around the head clean and place the fire extinguisher within reach.
  2. Wear the mask first before heating the screw head. You don’t want to inhale the smoke or the steam coming from the heated metal.
  3. Turn on the lighter and place the flame directly on the screw head.
  4. Stop when you notice steam or smoke coming from the screw head. Don’t let it turn cherry red.
  5. Once the screw head’s hot enough, apply some water or the wet rag.
  6. Do steps 3 to 5 several times, preferably two to four times.
  7. Try to remove the screw with an Allen key or pliers. Only take it out when it’s cooled, not when it’s hot.

Use a Spray Penetrant

A rusted and stripped Allen screw poses a much bigger challenge. Lucky for you, we’ve come prepared.

You can spray a penetrant or a penetrating fluid to get rid of the rust. It is a low-viscosity oil that can seep into tight spaces between the thread of the two materials.

Just a heads up, a spray penetrant is not a general-purpose lubricant as it is highly volatile.

Materials Needed

  • Safety gear like gloves, goggles, and a mask
  • A bottle of penetrating spray
  • Some rags for cleaning
  • A pair of pliers

Liquid Wrench Gunk L112/6 Super Penetrant Spray - 11 oz, Gray

Method

  1. Clean the area where you’ll put the spray penetrant with a rag.
  2. Put the penetrating fluid directly around the screw head.
  3. Wait for five to ten minutes for the liquid to fully penetrate.
  4. Use a pair of pliers to wiggle the Allen screw out.
  5. If you still can’t take the socket screw off, apply more penetrant on the screw head and repeat step 4.

Improvise a Flat Screw Slot

If the material the screw’s placed in is not valuable, hear this idea out.

Make the Allen screw head into a flat one.

Now, you’re probably wondering how to turn a worn-out screw head into one with a flat screw slot. It’s a fairly easy and simple task to do.

Materials Needed

  • Safety gear like goggles and gloves
  • A cutting tool like a hacksaw or a rotary tool
  • A flat-head screwdriver
  • A marker

Improvise a Flat Screw Slot

Method

  1. Get the cutting tool and prepare the screw head for cutting. Use a cutting tool that can cut through steel.
  2. You can use a marker to draw a guide for cutting.
  3. Take your time cutting through the steel crown. There is little to no damage to the screw’s surroundings. Cut the head deep and according to its thickness.
  4. Once you’ve successfully made the slit, you can use a flat-head screwdriver to remove the Allen screw. Do it slowly, as the screw head is not strong as it was before.

Cold Chisel and Hammer

Using a cold chisel and a hammer is the most conventional method on the list. However, it’ll take more elbow grease to do this one.

You might ask, can I use other chisels? The answer is a hard no.

A cold chisel is best used in removing a stripped Allen screw as it is strong and sturdy.

Materials Needed

  • Safety gear such as gloves and goggles
  • A cold chisel
  • Any hammer (but preferably a ball-peen or club hammer)
  • Any good lubricant
  • A pair of pliers

Method

  1. You need to clean the screw head first. Make sure there is no debris in the driver.
  2. Put lubricant on the chisel’s edge and not the screw head.
  3. Position your cold chisel at an angle. Always use a chisel that’s slightly wider than the screw head.
  4. Give the chisel strong but not too powerful blows with a hammer. Ensure that the chisel embeds on the screw head.
  5. Once you feel the socket screw move, guide it in a circular motion. Always do this in a counterclockwise direction.
  6. You can continue doing it, or you can use pliers to pry the screw out.

Improvise a Bolt Head By Welding

Snapping the head off of a bolt is a terrible situation, but it is one that many of us have experienced. When you find yourself in this unpleasant circumstance, welding may be the fastest approach.

You can weld a bolt head or a nut on top of the Allen screw so you can easily unscrew it.

Materials Needed

  • Safety gear like welding gloves and auto-darkening helmet
  • A bolt head or a nut (inner diameter should be around the size of the screw head)
  • A MIG welder (or a stick welder)
  • Welding wire
  • Cleaning items such as a rag or a wire brush
  • Wrench or pliers

Improvise a Bolt Head By Welding

Method

  1. Clean the area first. Make sure it’s well-cleaned so the nut can stick very well to the screw.
  2. Place the bolt head directly on top of the Allen screw head. Always remember that it should be big enough to accommodate the head.
  3. Once your welder is running, fuse the screw head on the inside of the bolt.
  4. Use pliers or a wrench to extract the bolt head together with the screw.
  5. Repeat step two if it still doesn’t budge. You can also put a penetrating fluid before welding to loosen the screw.

Try Using Left Handed Drill Bit

Another way to remove a stripped Allen screw is to use a left-handed drill bit.

Most drill bits have flutes that twist clockwise or to the right. As its name implies, the left-handed drill bit has flutes that turn to the left or counterclockwise.

It’s ideally suited for removing damaged bolts and studs as most screws have threads that go clockwise.

Materials Needed

  • Safety gear such as gloves and goggles
  • A drill
  • A left-handed drill bit
  • A file or a grinder
  • A center punch (or something that you can put an indentation on the screw head)
  • Cleaning items such as a wire brush or a clean rag

Topec 35-Piece Screw Extractor and Drill Bit Set, bolt extractors, Multi-spline Extractors, and Drill Bits for Removeing Broken Studs, Bolts, Socket Screws, and Fittings

Method

  1. Clean the area first. Then use a file or a grinder to flatten the screw head.
  2. Make a small shallow mark with a center punch on the flat screw head as a guide.
  3. Put the drill bit in the drill. Make sure to pick a drill with a reverse rotation option, as you’ll need it for this method.
  4. Place the tip of the drill on the indentation you made and start drilling. Always remember to drill a hole ⅔ smaller than your Allen screw.
  5. When the drill bit bites into the screw, it will remove it in no time. If it doesn’t budge, you still have a hole where you can put a screw extractor in.

The Hammer and Impact Wrench Method

Allen screws are typically used in assembly lines, especially in automotive manufacturing. It’s no surprise that you may have seen one in your car.

If you’re having problems with a stripped Allen screw in your car, this method can be useful. You just need a hammer and an impact wrench.

An impact wrench is a power tool made specifically to remove any pesky nuts and bolts. It has a high rotational torque and internal hammering mechanism that can undo the rustiest bolts.

Materials Needed

  • Safety gear like a pair of gloves and goggles
  • An impact wrench (either electric or air-powered)
  • A small hammer
  • An Allen key socket for the impact wrench
  • Cleaning items such as a rag

DEWALT 20V MAX XR Cordless Impact Wrench Kit with Detent Pin Anvil, 1/2-Inch, Tool Only (DCF894B)

Method

  1. Clean the screw’s driver first, especially if it’s caked with dirt, so the Allen key fits in it.
  2. Place the Allen key in and hit it with a hammer.
  3. Put the impact wrench and turn it on. The screw will come out in no time.
  4. You may need to put penetrating fluid to loosen the screw a bit.

Try Using An Adjustable Wrench or Vice Grip

If you managed to lift the Allen screw head a bit, the easiest way to remove it is with an adjustable wrench. You can also use a vice grip if you don’t have an adjustable wrench in your toolbox.

Materials Needed

  • An adjustable wrench or a vice grip
  • Cleaning items

WORKPRO 4-piece Adjustable Wrench Set, Forged, Heat Treated, Chrome-plated (6-inch, 8-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch)

Method

  1. Clean the head of the screw first with a cloth. You can shock the bolt with a hammer to loosen it, but it’s an optional step.
  2. Put the head in between the jaws of the adjustable wrench or a vice grip. It should fit tightly, so don’t use a worn-out one.
  3. Turn the wrench clockwise. Don’t turn slowly or use a quick turning motion, much similar to a jerking motion.
  4. Do step three a couple of times to remove the stripped Allen screw.

Use a Screw Extractor

Now, if you want the easiest way to remove a stripped Allen screw, we’re saved the best for last.

A screw extractor, as its name implies, is a tool that removes any problematic screw. It has two types: a spiral flute called an easy out and a straight flute.

However, using a screw extractor requires a hole in your stripped socket screw. Be sure to have a handy drill with a reverse mode in your toolbox.

Screw Extractor

Materials Needed

  • Safety gear like goggles and gloves
  • A screw extractor
  • A center punch (or something that you can put an indentation on the screw head)
  • A drill and a drill bit
  • A hammer
  • Some threading oil
  • A wrench (optional)

Damaged&Stripped Screw Extractor Remover Tool and Drill Bit Set. Broken Bolt Extractor and Screw Remover Set of 6 Pcs

Method

  1. Put a dent on the center of the damaged screw with a center punch and hammer. It will act as a guide when drilling.
  2. Choose a drill bit smaller than the screw. Put a bit of the threading oil on the screw head for easy drilling.
  3. Drill the screw slowly and make sure to keep it straight. The depth will depend on your screw extractor’s size, but generally, it should be 1/8 to 1/4 inch.
  4. Once you bored a hole, insert your screw extractor and turn it clockwise. You can use a drill or a wrench when turning the extractor.
  5. The screw extractor will penetrate the cavity you made. Once you feel it gripped the screw, turn it counterclockwise until the screw is removed.

How To Prevent Allen Screws From Getting Stripped?

A stripped screw is normal when you use it more often. Now you know how to remove a stripped Allen screw, we’ll teach you how to prevent it from getting stripped.

The first thing you need is to have the right tools. Check if you have the right screwdriver for each screw you have around your house.

Always replace worn-out tools with new ones. A timeworn screwdriver does not only work subpar but can damage the screw’s driver.

Moreover, treat each screw like a delicate flower. Don’t just unscrew or screw it haphazardly.

Always remember to do it mindfully so the screw head will have less damage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

We’ve put a lot of information on your plate, and you might be overwhelmed by it. To help you understand, here are some of the most frequent questions about removing a stripped Allen screw:

How Do You Remove Allen Screws Without Allen Keys

There are different methods you can use when removing Allen screws. You can either shock it, weld a bolt stop, or use a left-handed drill bit.

What Can I Use In Place Of An Allen Wrench?

If you misplaced your Allen wrench, you could use a flat screwdriver as a substitute. Make sure that it fits perfectly across the driver of the socket screw.

You can also use a Torx bit attached to a drill as it works well with hex screws.

Can I put an Allen wrench in a drill?

You can put an Allen wrench in a drill by removing its L part. It’s best to do it on old Allen wrenches, but doing it with a new one will be fine too.

Got Your Allen Screws Removed?

Allen Screws RemovedDamaged or stripped Allen screws or any screw is quite a dilemma. They’re a challenge to remove, especially when you don’t have the right tools.

With the methods presented to you, surely a stripped Allen set screw is a piece of cake.