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How to Remove a Broken Bolt or Screw (Quickly & Easily)

Accidentally breaking a bolt or screw in your project can be a startling experience that none of us want to face. However, if it happens to you, it’s not the end of the world. There are steps you can take to remove them, and we are going to look at a few methods you can use to solve this problem. Keep reading while we discuss punches, drills, heat, extractors, and more to help you stay better informed.

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Removing a Broken Bolt or Screw Preparation

Punch

A punch is a tool similar to a chisel but with a point. In fact, you often purchase punches and chisels in the same set. You can also use a center punch, which we prefer because it makes using the extractors easier. Carefully hitting the broken bolt with a punch can help loosen it slightly, which might make it easier to remove later.

Heat

You can try adding heat to the bolt or screw to help make it easier to remove, but you need to be mindful of the surrounding area to prevent damage. You can apply heat using a blow torch if you don’t need to worry about surrounding areas, but we found a 60–80 watt soldering iron with a pointy tip works best in most situations.

Removing a Broken Bolt or Screw

Tools Needed to Remove A Broken Bolt Or Screw

Extractors

The primary tool you will need to remove your bolt is the extractor. Extractors are a specially designed tool that resembles a drill bit. These tools usually come in a kit of different sizes so you can choose the best one for the job.


Mole Wrench

The mole wrench has a special nose well suited to grasping the ends of broken bolts and is especially helpful when removing screws. Mole wrench pliers are not that expensive, and you may even have a suitable pair lying around your workshop. If you can’t find a mole wrench, a locking wrench will also work well, especially if they have a needle nose.

Stanley FMHT0-74884 straight Locking Mole plier


Power Drill

You will need a power drill to use the extractors and remove the broken bolt. Any power drill is suitable, and most of us already have one lying around. If you need to purchase one, we highly recommend a corded model if you are on a tight budget. The only requirements of your power drill are that it can go backward and has a variable speed trigger.

man using G LAXIA Corded Drill


Vise

There is a good chance you will need a vise to hold the object securely while you work on it. Vises usually attach to a table for stability, and you don’t need to spend a lot of money to buy a vice that works well, and most brands last a lifetime with a minimal amount of care.

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10 Steps To Remove A Broken Bolt or Screw

  1. If your broken bolt or screw is in a smaller object that will not remain still while you work on it, you will need to place it in a vice.
  2. In many cases, you can use your mole wrench to grab the edge of your broken bolt or screw.
  3. If you can grab the edge with a wrench, do so and twist in a counterclockwise direction to remove it with no further steps.
  4. Use a center punch to tap the bolt or screw gently. This might help loosen it, and it will also create a guide mark on the bolt that you can use with the extractor.
  5. Choose the correct extractor for the job. Choose one with a diameter slightly smaller than the bolt or screw you are trying to remove.
  6. Once you have the extractor selected, put it in the chuck of your drill, like you would any drill bit.
  7. Set your drill to move in a backward or counterclockwise direction.
  8. Place the extractor against the hole you created with the center punch and slowly start the drill in motion. You should see it begin to drill into the screw or bolt.
  9. Continue to drill slowly and keep the extractor in line with the screw so the entire thing can fit inside the broken bolt or screw.
  10. Once you insert the extractor completely, it should start to back out the broken bolt or screw, and you should be able to remove it without trouble.

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Summary

Since many of us don’t have extractor sets on hand, the best thing to do is to get a grip on the screw or bolt using the mole wrench. You can often get a grip but not enough to back out the screw, in which case you might try to heat it with a soldering iron before trying again. If all else fails, the extractor is an amazing tool that works perfectly for removing broken bolts and screws.

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Featured Image Credit: ZhakYaroslav, Shutterstock

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