A screw goes through

A screw that turns empty after or while tightening can really annoy you. Neither the screw is fixed nor can it be tightened. What you can do when a screw goes crazy, we describe here in detail.

A spinning screw can happen anywhere

Many do-it-yourselfers know the situation. A screw is screwed in and then turns through empty. Even if you now wanted to replace the screw with a larger screw, you would have to get the smaller first screw out of the screw hole first. It is important to know what kind of screw it is:

  • a self-tapping screw in a material like wood
  • a screw inserted in a dowel
  • a metric or imperial screw in a mating thread

Self-tapping screw goes through

Tapered screws are equipped with a wider thread than, for example, metric metal screws, as they are screwed into a matching mating thread. The thread practically cuts the thread in the workpiece with such screws. Typical materials would be wood (wood screw) and sheet metal (sheet metal screw).

With materials such as wood, these are usually blind holes, so that the screw can not be pushed out from the other side. But now it is crucial why the screw can not be unscrewed. If the screw head is broken with the slot, so the screwdriver turns empty, a simple trick helps.

Screw head is defective

Take a gum like a seal for jars. Put the rubber on the screw and put the screwdriver on it. The rubber provides so much support that the screw can now simply be unscrewed.

Thread is no longer working properly

For all other screws where the thread does not work properly anymore because it is destroyed, you will need a small pointed flat-head screwdriver. Slide the screwdriver under the head of the screw and press it upwards.

At the same time take the second screwdriver, put on the screw head and turn on the screw. Turn slowly and with feeling. The screw will now slowly unscrew.

Screw inserted in a dowel goes through

If a screw is turning in a dowel, you must check whether the screw in the dowel or the dowel rotates with the screw. If the screw in the dowel turns empty and you do not want to use a larger screw, you can also resort to a trick here, depending on the required load.

You can cut a toothpick or a match to dowel length and put it in the dowel. Then the screw is screwed in again. Alternatively, you can also fill plaster in the dowel hole with dowel and screw in the screw to stop or as needed. Then wait until the plaster or repair mortar has set.

When the dowel is turning with the screw

If the dowel rotates by itself, you can resort to a similar trick if you do not want to replace the dowel with a larger dowel. Insert the screw into the dowel as far as possible without screwing it in, and then wrap the dowel with wire. Fill the drill hole with repair mortar or plaster and push the dowel back in. Wait for the mass to harden. Now tighten the screw.

Metric screw rotates in counter thread

It gets a bit more complicated here. You can try the trick again with the second screwdriver, which is guided under the screw head. Pry up gently as you slowly unscrew the screw. In many cases, unscrewing such screws succeeds. Then you have to check which thread is broken.

Unfortunately, this is usually the mating thread to the screw. There is no choice but to cut the thread or cut a larger thread if it is a blind hole. If a screw hole penetrates, you can tighten a screw on the other side with nuts (stop nut, lock nut, etc.).

Stick the screw in place

For blind holes, and if the screw is not over-stressed in the particular application, you can also try to glue a new screw with extra-solid threadlock adhesive or liquid metal. But that can also mean that this screw can be removed very difficult later.

Tips & Tricks

If you can not remove the metal screw, you will probably have no choice but to drill the screw in question.

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