A stripped screw can be a source of frustration, and at worst can lead to a voided warranty or lost security deposit if you don’t know how to handle it. You might be tempted to try your own fix, or even shell out extra cash to have a professional fix it so you don’t mess anything else up. But before you break out the socket wrench or ball peen hammer, reach in your junk drawer for a plain old rubber band.
Find a wide, thick rubber band that covers the entire head of the stripped screw. Place it over the head, and hold it in place using a screwdriver. Believe it or not, using a larger screwdriver than the one that stripped the screw in the first place will make the job easier.
The keys to this trick are force, friction, and patience. You need to push the screwdriver into the screw head firmly, and maintain this force as you turn it (remember, lefty loosey…I’m assuming you want the screw out). It might take a few tries to get the rubber band to “catch,” but keep trying, applying pressure the whole time.
Once the rubber band catches the screw head, don’t let up! You don’t want to lose the friction caused by the rubber band. Keep turning until the screw loosens and eventually comes out.
After freeing the stripped screw, bring it to your local hardware store to match it with a replacement. Test the thread to ensure a match, so you don’t have bigger problems upon returning to your project at home. If you’re not sure how to do this, the store’s staff should be able to point you in the right direction.
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