If you’ve ever found yourself in the predicament of needing to unscrew a screw, but without having any type of screwdriver at hand, you know how frustrating it can be. However, there’s no need to panic or rush out to buy a new set of tools just yet.
It’s entirely possible to unscrew that pesky screw using common household items or a few innovative techniques.
In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about removing a screw without a screwdriver using different objects and techniques.
Let’s get started (:
Why Might You Need To Unscrew A Screw Without A Screwdriver?
There are several scenarios where you might find yourself needing to unscrew a screw without a screwdriver. It’s not always about not having one; sometimes, it’s about not having the right one.
Scenario 1: Misplaced Or Unavailable Screwdriver
Picture this: you’re trying to assemble a piece of furniture, or you’re in the middle of a DIY project when you realize you can’t find your trusty screwdriver.
You’ve checked your toolbox, the kitchen drawer, even your kid’s toy box—no screwdriver. Instead of halting your project or making an emergency run to the hardware store, you can look for alternative tools around your house.
Scenario 2: Special Or Uncommon Screw Types
Specialty screws like tri-wing or pentalobe screws are used by manufacturers to prevent tampering. If you encounter these, you might not have the right screwdriver on hand.
In this case, common household items can serve as a makeshift solution to your problem. Furthermore, you might have to deal with torx screws that require a specific screwdriver.
Scenario 3: Emergency Situations
There might be emergencies where you have to dismantle something quickly; when every second counts, rummaging through your toolbox for a screwdriver isn’t the best option.
That’s when knowledge of these alternate methods could save the day.
Safety Measures When Unscrewing Screws Without A Screwdriver
Before you start trying to unscrew with makeshift tools, it’s crucial to understand the risks and take safety precautions. While these methods can be handy, they’re not without hazards.
Understanding The Risks
Two major risks are associated with these methods: damaging the screw’s head and potential injury.
Damaging the Screw
When using non-standard tools to unscrew a screw, there’s a higher risk of stripping the screw head.
A stripped screw is difficult to remove, and the damage might even be permanent, causing you more trouble in the long run.
Potential Injury Risks
Unconventional tools lack the ergonomic design of a screwdriver, increasing the chance of accidents.
A slipped tool can lead to cuts, scrapes, or more serious injuries.
How to Stay Safe while Unscrewing Screws?
To mitigate these risks, you should always observe basic safety precautions when trying these methods.
Always wear protective gear, including safety glasses and gloves, to shield yourself from potential harm. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Correct Handling of Substitute Tools
Handle substitute tools with care. Ensure you have a good grip, and apply force gradually to prevent the tool from slipping and causing injury or damage.
Common Household Items To Unscrew Screws
Believe it or not, your house is a treasure trove of potential screw-unscrewing tools.
Here are some household items you can use instead of a screwdriver:
- Using a Coin
- Using a Butter Knife
- Using A Credit Card Or Plastic ID
- Using a Metal Hairpin or Bobby Pin
Let’s go through each item and how to use it properly.
1. Using a Coin
Coins, due to their flat and rigid structure, can act as mini flathead screwdrivers. This method works best for screws with a large, straight slot or a coin-slot head.
How to Use?
Hold the coin on its edge, align it with the slot on the screw head, and twist it screw counterclockwise.
Make sure to apply steady pressure to maintain contact between the coin and the screw.
2. Using a Butter Knife
The humble butter knife can also be your screw-unscrewing ally in times of need. This method is suitable for larger screws with straight slots.
How to Use?
Insert the knife’s tip into the screw’s slot and rotate counterclockwise. Be careful not to use too much force, which can cause the knife to slip or damage the screw.
3. Using A Credit Card Or Plastic ID
Don’t underestimate the utility of a credit card or plastic ID when it comes to unscrewing a screw.
This method works best for small, less tight screws, or very tiny screws.
How to Use?
Cut a small strip from the edge of your card or ID, thin enough to fit the screw’s slot. Insert it into the slot and twist it counterclockwise.
4. Using a Metal Hairpin or Bobby Pin
Bobby pins or hairpins can also act as impromptu screwdrivers.
This method is effective for small screws, such as those found on eyeglasses or electronic devices.
How to Use?
Straighten the bobby pin, leaving a small hook at the end. Insert the hooked end into the screw’s slot and turn tiny screws counterclockwise.
Using Power Tools As Screwdriver Alternatives
If the screws are particularly stubborn or your arm is getting tired, power tools could be your answer.
An electric drill or toothbrush can be used to unscrew screws when you don’t have a screwdriver.
1. Using A Drill
A drill, particularly a cordless one, is a powerful ally in your quest to remove screws without a screwdriver.
This method is suitable for removing large screws or when other methods fail.
How to Use?
Attach a bit that fits the screw head to your drill. Set the drill to reverse, align the bit with the screw, and activate the drill.
Always wear eye and hand protection when using a drill. Also, be sure not to use too much force to avoid damaging the screw or surrounding material.
2. Using An Electric Toothbrush
An electric toothbrush can also be a surprising substitute for a screwdriver. This method is best for small, less tight screws, or when you don’t have a small flat-head screwdriver handy.
How to Use?
Remove the brush head, leaving the small, round metal piece. Align it with the screw’s slot, and turn on the toothbrush.
Ensure the toothbrush is clean and dry before use. As always, be careful not to apply too much pressure.
Advanced Techniques: Using Heat And Glue To Unscrew Screws
Sometimes, conventional methods might not work, especially if the screw is rusty or has been overtightened. In such cases, you might have to resort to advanced techniques.
1. Using Heat to Loosen a Screw
Applying heat can cause the metal in the screw to expand and then contract as it cools, breaking the grip between the screw and the material it’s embedded in.
Use this method for screws that are stuck due to rust or have been overtightened.
How to Use?
Use a lighter or a small torch to heat the screw. Be careful not to overheat the surrounding material. Allow it to cool, then try to remove it using one of the previously mentioned methods.
Avoid using this method on plastic materials or near flammable substances. Always wear heat-resistant gloves and safety goggles.
2. Using Glue and a Rod
In desperate times, a bit of strong adhesive and a rod (or even a metal nail file) can save the day.
Use this technique for screws that are deeply embedded or when other methods have failed.
How to Use?
Apply a bit of strong adhesive to the end of a small rod or the extractor. Attach it to the screw head and wait for the glue to set. Once set, turn the rod or extractor counterclockwise.
Use a suitable adhesive that won’t damage the surrounding material. Avoid getting glue on your skin or in your eyes.
What To Do If The Screw Is Stripped?
Stripped screws, where the slots or ridges have been worn down, present a particular challenge. Here’s what you can do.
Identifying A Stripped Screw
First, you need to identify whether you’re dealing with a stripped screw.
A stripped screw has a rounded or worn-out head, where the screwdriver or substitute tool can’t gain a grip.
Why do Screws Get Stripped?
Stripping often happens when too much torque is applied, the wrong head type or size of screwdriver is used, or the screwdriver slips out of the head while turning.
Techniques For Removing Stripped Screws Without Screwdriver
There are a few tricks to remove stripped screws without a screwdriver:
- Using Rubber Bands
- Using Pliers
- Using a Screw Extractor
1. Using Rubber Bands
Place a rubber band over the stripped head, then push your screwdriver into the rubber band while you turn the screw.
The rubber band can fill the gaps in the stripped head and provide the necessary grip.
2. Using Pliers
If the screw is protruding from the surface, you may be able to get a good grip on it using a pair of pliers. Just grab the screw head and turn.
3. Using a Screw Extractor
A screw extractor is a tool designed specifically for removing stripped screws.
It has a tapered thread design that digs into the stripped screw head to provide grip as you turn it.
Whether you’re dealing with a missing screwdriver, an unusual screw head, or an overtightened screw, there are numerous ways to unscrew a screw without a screwdriver.
From coins and credit cards to drills and heat, there’s almost always a method to help you out of your predicament.
However, when all else fails, don’t hesitate to call a professional. They have the tools and experience to handle any screw-related challenge.