How to Remove a Stripped Torx (Star) Screw? [Causes & Solutions and Preventions]

Among the hardest things to remove is a stripped screw. You’ve encountered it one way or the other, and no matter what you do, it just won’t come off.

If you don’t know any tips or tricks, it can be more difficult to manage. Fortunately, this article will cover what causes a stripped screw, how to unscrew it, and more. Let’s start.

What Commonly Causes a Stripped Screw

There are set standards when it comes to manufacturing hardware tools and materials. However, some have seemingly poor quality. What could be the reason?

Design of Screw

The first reason is the design of the screw which can either be cruciform or hexagon. Sometimes, the contract between the tool and bolt will create a gap resulting in an uneven force. The screw then will become inefficient.

Below are three common screw designs.

1. Hex or 6-Point

A hex or 6-point is designed to cause point contacts. This creates the stripped screws. Additionally, the 60-degree point can make the screw strip easily because its degree and angle do not transit the torque properly.

2. Phillips or Pozi

The Phillips is a screw design that can fall out easily when loosened. You’ll be forced to push the screw deeper to prevent it from falling off. As a result, your screwdriver bit will be damaged. Moreover, if the screw is not seated properly, it will strip at any time.

3. Torx

A Torx has a 15-degree transmission. It has a better screw shape than the hexagon, but it cannot completely avoid stripping. Let alone its power concentration is downwards. Its design helps fit the screw perfectly and will significantly help avoid cam-out.

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Too Much Torque

Another reason is the excessive torque that can damage the screws.  As an illustration, when you use an electric tool, the output torque might burden the screws. In addition, there’s also a mechanical wrench that can help ease too much torque.

Wrong Size

Each screw nut is different in size. You may still undo the screws using a tiny screwdriver. However, it is more difficult due to low torque performance and increased screw damage.

What Are The Different Ways to Remove a Stripped Torx Screw

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Now that you’ve learned about the common causes of stripped screws, you’re ready to know how to fix them. The guide below will provide 5 ways to remove a stripped Torx screw.

1. Using a Rubber Band

Any rubber can do, but a wide rubber band is best as it covers most areas. To do this method, place the rubber band over the driver bit and pull very tight. Then, if there’s no let-up, slowly insert the driver bit into the screw head and make it lose.

This way, the rubber band will fill in the area not stripped properly. On the other hand, it also provides friction when the screw needs to be removed.

2. Using a Screw Extractor (Best Way)

Screw extractors are very helpful tools because they are counter-threaded. Not to mention, the threaded screws have a right-handed twist, while the extractors are left-hand twists.

These vary in size, so you have to check and match them with the head of your stripped screw. To execute this, you have to load the extractor into your drill. Next, tighten the chuck to help it hold.

Then, set the drill in reverse to bite into the stripped screw. After that, continue with the previous step until you see the stripped screw backing out of the material.

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3. Cutting a Notch

You can also make use of cutting a notch. This way is a bit destructive compared to the first three methods. The depth of the stripped screw will determine the possible damage to the material’s surface.

First, you have to use a rotary tool with a cutting wheel. Then, use the cutting wheel to make space for the flathead screw to seat. After that, you should be able to pull the screw out.

How to Remove a Stripped Torx Screw Without An Extractor

If you cannot use the methods given above, you can do DIY. Even if you have no extractor to remove a stripped Torx screw, you can follow these steps.

Materials needed:

  • HammerWide rubber band
  • Needle-nose plier and clamp locking pliers
  • Multi-head driver screw kit

1. Use a hand tool

Initially, you have to switch from a power tool to a hand tool. You can control the pressure exerted when removing the stripped screw.

2. Switch screw head types

Switch to a short-screwdriver with a bigger head. You can also utilize Torx and Allen, which are included in a toolbox kit. These shapes can give you a proper grip when removing the stripped screw. Don’t forget to apply pressure and go downwards slowly.

3. Use the rubber as a grip

You can employ wide rubber bands. This will help in gripping and loosening the screw. Put a wide and bumpy rubber between the driver and screw, then apply force. Turn the screw and fill the gaps, creating better leverage to extract the stripped screw.

4. Use nose plier and clamp locking pliers

A nose plier and clamp locking pliers can assist in turning the stripped screw. If the rubber band trick didn’t fully work, you could apply this method to extract it fully.

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5. Employ Rodin and chisel screw head

As your last resort, you may take a page from Rodin, chisel the screw head, and give depth to the stripped regions to compensate for the tension lost during the strip. But only with the gentlest of pressures, since hammering too hard risks driving your screw fully into the surface.

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4 Ways to Avoid Stripping Screws

When dealing with stripped screws, they can be quite stressful. To save you from this hassle, here are 4 ways to avoid stripping screws.

1. Use the Right Tools and Hardware

In this case, you have to use the right tools and hardware when working with any screws. The first thing you should note is a screwdriver that can drive your screw when tightening it.

When pairing the driver with the screw, it may not be as easy as “-” and “+.” Other shapes like cross-shaped drivers are only compatible with the “Phillips” screwdriver. In line with this, all screws are prone to stripping, unlike Hex and Phillips. So, poor-quality screws should not be on your list.

2. Ensure you Drive the Screw at the Proper Angle

Next, you have to hold your screwdriver in line with the screw. Not just holding it straight but angling it when using an impact driver.

3. Apply the Right Amount of Force

Third, you have to check if the screw is properly placed. Applying too much pressure is a mistake, rather exert just the right amount, especially when using impact drivers.

Some screws have a certain requirement for torques. That’s why the torques drivers will help you adjust the pressure accordingly.

4. Stop Immediately if the Screw Starts Stripping

Finally, do not continue to drive when the screw starts stripping. Once you see the screw stripping, change your tool or use another technique. You may also straighten your holding position.

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After making these suggestions, you can partially let the screw out or replace it with a new one.

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Steps to Screws Perfectly Without Stripping Screw Heads

The following steps will help you drive screws properly and perfectly.

1. Use Torx Head Screws

There are Torx Head screws that are available for general constructions. These are the types of screws that you can drive with ease. Not to mention,  it has a firm grip and will seldom strip.

2. Purchase a cordless impact driver

When working on big projects, it’s best to invest in a cordless impact driver. It can assist you when driving in hard-to-reach areas. Also, it’s easy to use. Just choose the right driver bit, insert it and release the chuck.

Ensure that the impact driver is in the correct position, press the trigger swiftly and drive into the material.

3. Abstain from using shabby driver bit

If you use a worn-out driver bit, it will surely strip the screw. Keep extras, just in case to avoid damages.


What can I use instead of a Torx screwdriver?

Instead of a Torx, you can use an Allen key or a flat blade screwdriver. In any case, you have to be ready to replace them when damaged. By all means, your safest bet is the Torx key.

Can you use security Torx on normal Torx?

Both security and normal Torx will fit perfectly on a screw, and you’ll remove it easily. If you’re not okay with damaging the screw, don’t try to remove it with any other tool. You can use the correct size of Torx screwdriver orbit.

What are the sizes of a Torx bit? (table)

The table below will show the sizes for the Torx bit.

Size Imperial Point to point Metric Point to point
T9 .098″ 2.50 mm
T10 .107″ 2.74 mm
T15 .128″ 3.27 mm
T20 .151″ 3.86 mm
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Are Torx and Allen keys the same?

The Torx and Allen keys are not the same. One notable difference is their shape. A hexagon cross-section is seen in Allen, while the star or asterisk cross-section is seen in Torx.

How do I know my Torx size?

  1. Use the ruler on the star-shaped screw tip to measure from one point to the point directly opposite.
  2. Look into the notch on the ruler and write them down.
  3. Differentiate the estimation with the “P to P” (point to point) column of the first chart on the Wiha website to determine your Torx bit’s exact T-size.

Remove a Stripped Torx Screw With These Tips

By now, you should know how to remove a stripped Torx screw. Apply the tips mentioned to ensure you’ll have no problems while extracting them.

Also, remember only to apply the right amount of torque to prevent screw stripping. And lastly, don’t hesitate to use this article as a guide whenever you need to.

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