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7 Easy Ways to Remove a Stripped, Rusted or Rounded Bolt (With Pictures)

Rusty Bolt

Rusty Bolt Normally, removing a bolt is very easy. But some bolts are more difficult to remove than others. This is especially true if they are stripped, rusted, or rounded.

Facing a pesky bolt and wondering what to do? This is where we come in: our complete guide will walk you through the seven easiest ways of dealing with these annoying bolts.

Time to grab your toolbox and get to work!

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1. Heating Things Up

Heat Caliper
Heat Caliper (Image By: dave_7, Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0)

You don’t always have to channel your inner MacGyver when it comes to annoying bolts. Sometimes, you can simply get back to basics, and that means turning up the heat!

As you know, a bit of heat can cause metal to both contract and expand. A little heat in the right place can make a bolt much easier to deal with.

How should you apply the heat? A blow torch or even a good heat gun should do the trick. Just don’t forget to give the bolt enough time to cool down before you touch it with your bare hands!

2. Maximum Force

If you’re like most handymen, your first instinct when the bolt won’t budge is to hit the darn thing. That’s actually a good instinct, but you need to use the right tools.

What you are trying to do here is maximize your impact and your force. A good chisel will get the job done, but you can also use a hammer or a big flathead screwdriver.

Are these simple tools letting you down? You always have the option of using an impact gun on the most annoying bolts. But don’t forget to try a little lubricant first to loosen things up.

3. Shaken, Not Stirred

Speaking of lubricant, a little WD-40 can make the next step much easier. That’s because the next step is all about shaking that bolt until it loosens up!

Aside from lubricant, all you need here is a ratchet and a bit of patience. Place the ratchet over the nut or bolt head and then rock it back and forth in a repeated motion.

You can add the lube right away or wait to see if it gives you any trouble. If the ratchet isn’t working, you can try a metal pipe or simply try shaking the bolt in a different direction.

4. Cutting for Relief

When in doubt, cut it out! That’s our motto when it comes to stripped, rusted, and rounded bolts.

One method that almost always works is cutting into the bolt. With a good oscillating tool or other specialized equipment, you can cut strategic relief holes on the bolt that is giving you trouble.

Once you’ve cut the holes, it’s time for the fun part. Just grab a chisel and hammer, give the bolt a good whack, and watch it fall right off!

5. Special Extractors

Screw and Screwdriver
Image Credit: 947051, pixabay

When the going gets tough, the tough get creative. If other methods aren’t doing the trick, it may be time for you to shop for some special extractors.

There are many different bolt and screw extractor sets out there that work in different ways. And these sets serve one purpose: to help you deal with bolts and screws that just won’t come out.

You may need to check the “fine print” and discover exactly how the extractor works. But if you’re at your wit’s end, a good extraction set may be exactly what you need.

6. For the Drill of It

The hardest part of being a handyman is fixing certain problems without causing new ones. And that brings us to the next solution: drilling that bolt that won’t move.

On one hand, drilling is almost always an effective way to remove the bolt. On the other hand, drilling can damage your threads if you aren’t very methodical about what you are doing.

If your existing drill bits aren’t up to the task, consider grabbing a metal-cutting bit. And if you do end up damaging some threads, a good tap and die set can make things as good as new.

7. Start Fresh

New Bolts
Image Credit: Brett_Hondow, Pixabay

Ideally, you can remove the unwanted bolt…eventually. But what if you’re working on a strict timetable and need to get things moving sooner rather than later?

In a pinch, you can always just install a new bolt. In fact, you may find this easier to do than most of the methods for removing it!

You can also install a fresh bolt with the tools you already have in hand. That may be a better option than buying a lot of specialized equipment just to deal with a bad bolt.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterbug75, Pixabay


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