How to Remove a Stripped Bolt : [5 Methods]

extract bolt

– wham! You’re confronted with a stripped bolt. This common roadblock can swiftly turn a straightforward task into a test of endurance. But don’t sweat it, this guide is here to equip you with the know-how and skills to face this challenge head-on. Understanding how to remove a stripped bolt is a skill that everyone should have in their toolkit. So, let’s dive in and get our hands dirty, shall we?

Encountering a stripped bolt can make your task feel more like a complex puzzle than an enjoyable project. But with the right tools at your disposal and the right techniques up your sleeve, this obstacle can quickly become a piece of cake. This guide is your trusty roadmap, steering you through the intricacies of bolt removal and helping you expand your toolkit.

Grasping the process of how to remove a stripped bolt can significantly enhance your problem-solving skills. So, without further ado, let’s seize this opportunity to learn, grow, and conquer another vital aspect of your skillset. Stripped bolt, we’re ready to take you on!

Understanding Stripped Bolts

Let’s start from the ground up. What exactly is a ‘stripped bolt’? In simple terms, a stripped bolt is a bolt that has had its head rounded off due to age or misuse. With its edges rounded, sockets and wrenches can’t grip the bolt to gain the leverage needed to turn it.

Understanding why bolts strip is a crucial part of learning how to remove a stripped bolt. Common causes include the use of a wrench that doesn’t fit properly, applying too much force, or the bolt being subjected to extreme stress or vibration. While this is a problem many of us encounter, having the right knowledge and tools at your disposal can ensure it’s a hurdle that can be easily overcome.

Tools Required for Removing Stripped Bolts

Before we delve into the specifics of how to remove a stripped bolt, let’s discuss the equipment required for this task. Here’s a quick list of the necessary tools.:

  • Bolt extractor: This is a special type of socket that grips onto the stripped bolt, allowing you to remove it with ease.
  • Penetrating oil: This helps to loosen the bolt, making it easier to remove. Check out our article on PB Blaster vs WD40 here.
  • Wrench: A good quality wrench is essential. Make sure it’s the right size for the bolt you’re trying to remove.
  • Wire brush: This is used to clean the bolt head before you attempt to remove it.

Remember, using the right tools is crucial. Not only will it make the job easier, but it’ll also prevent further damage to the bolt.

Preparatory Steps

Alright, now that we’ve got our tools sorted, let’s get down to business. Here are the preparatory steps you need to follow:

  1. Cleaning the bolt head: Use your wire brush to clean the rust, paint, and corrosion off of the bolt head. This will provide the wrench with a firmer grip on the bolt head. Also, you’ll want to remove rust to give the penetrating oil easier access to the shank’s threads. Although you won’t likely be able to eliminate all of the rust on heavily corroded bolts, the more you can remove, the better.
  2. Using penetrating oil: Apply a generous amount of penetrating oil to the bolt. This will help to loosen it, making it easier to remove. Let the oil sit for a while to allow it to penetrate the threads of the bolt.
  3. Choosing the right wrench: This is crucial. Make sure you’re using the right size wrench for the bolt. If the wrench doesn’t fit properly, it could cause further damage to the bolt. Remember, the goal here is to achieve a firm wrench grip without causing additional harm to the bolt.

Techniques for Removing Stripped Bolts

Using a Hammer and Chisel

  1. Position the chisel: Place the chisel at an angle on the edge of the bolt head. Make sure the chisel is positioned in such a way that when you strike it, it will turn the bolt in the “loosen” direction.
  2. Strike the chisel: Using a hammer, strike the chisel firmly. The force should be enough to create an impact but not so much that it damages the surrounding area or causes the chisel to slip.
  3. Turn the bolt: The impact from the hammer and chisel should create enough torque to start turning the bolt. If the bolt starts to turn, you can continue this process until the bolt is loose enough to remove.
  4. Remove the bolt: Once the bolt is loose, you should be able to remove it using pliers or a wrench.

Using Locking Pliers

  1. Adjust the pliers: Before you start, adjust the locking pliers to fit the stripped bolt. They should be tight enough to grip the bolt firmly but not so tight that they strip the bolt further.
  2. Grip the bolt: Clamp the locking pliers onto the bolt. Make sure they’re secure before you start to turn.
  3. Turn the bolt: Once the pliers are securely attached to the bolt, start turning. It may take a bit of effort, but the bolt should eventually start to move.
  4. Remove the bolt: After you’ve loosened the bolt, you can remove the pliers and unscrew the bolt the rest of the way by hand.

Using an Extraction Socket Set

how to remove a stripped bolt using extraction socket
  1. Select the right extractor: Choose an extractor that matches the size of the stripped bolt. The extractor should fit snugly over the bolt.
  2. Attach the extractor: Place the extractor over the bolt and tap it into place with a hammer. The extractor should grip the stripped bolt securely.
  3. Turn the bolt: Attach a wrench or ratchet to the extractor and turn it counter-clockwise. The bolt should start to loosen and eventually come out.

Using a Smaller Socket

  1. Choose a smaller socket: Select a socket that is one size smaller than the stripped bolt.
  2. Hammer the socket onto the bolt: Place the socket over the bolt and tap it into place with a hammer. The socket should fit tightly over the bolt.
  3. Turn and remove the bolt: Attach a wrench or ratchet to the socket and turn it counter-clockwise. The bolt should start to loosen and can then be removed.

Drilling It Out

  1. Select the right drill bit: Choose a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the stripped bolt.
  2. Drill a hole into the bolt: Position the drill bit in the center of the bolt and start drilling. Be sure to keep the drill steady and apply even pressure.
  3. Use a screw extractor: Once you’ve drilled a hole into the bolt, you can use a screw extractor to remove it. Insert the extractor into the hole and turn it counter-clockwise. The bolt should start to move and can then be removed.
screw extractor guide

Preventing Bolt Stripping

Prevention is always better than cure, right? Here are some tips to prevent bolt stripping in the future:

  • Proper bolt tightening techniques: Don’t over-tighten your bolts. This is one of the most common causes of bolt stripping. Use a torque wrench if possible to ensure you’re applying the right amount of force.
  • Importance of using the right tools: Always use the right tool for the job. Using the wrong size wrench or socket can easily strip a bolt.

And that concludes our guide! Armed with these strategies, you’re well on your way to becoming adept at bolt removal, including those pesky stripped ones. The key takeaways are to always utilize the appropriate tools and don’t hesitate to seek assistance if you find yourself at a standstill. Mastering how to remove a stripped bolt is a skill that will undoubtedly come in handy in your DIY endeavors.


What is the best tool to remove a stripped bolt?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this, as it depends on the specific situation. However, tools like bolt extractors, locking pliers, and extraction socket sets are generally quite effective.

How do you remove a rounded bolt from a tight space?

This can be tricky, but tools like a bolt extractor or locking pliers can often do the job. If you’re really stuck, you might need to drill out the bolt.

How do you get a stripped bolt out without a metal drill bit?

You can try using a hammer and chisel, locking pliers, or an extraction socket set. If all else fails, you might need to cut a new groove in the bolt head with a Dremel or similar tool, then use a flat-head screwdriver to remove it.

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