How do I get a stuck screw out of places?
June 15, 2005 12:32 PM   Subscribe

ScrewFilter: I have on several occasion (once by my own hand, and now by someone else) have been put in a position of getting very small, very flush screws out of a surface. or more bluntly put, there is a screw stuck in the side of an aluminum PowerBook. any advice on how to remove it?

it just sits there spinning, so i know its not connected to the main body, and because its aluminum, i cant use a magnet, and because its not mine, i cant force it out....and advice that is non destructive?
posted by ShawnString to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
You could try some sort of removeable glue to stick a toothpick or something else on the head of the screw. Since it's aluminum, you should be able to dissolve the glue off in a strong solvent, like acetone, once you have it out (obviously) without damaging the screw.

Don't blame me if it turns out acetone + alumium = chlorine gas or something else terrible. Look up the solvent first.
posted by shepd at 12:48 PM on June 15, 2005

Are you sure the screws aluminum? Aluminum isn't known for holding edges such as those on a screw. As the female side it's sort of ok because the harder screw can ream new threads.

Anyway, if a magnet really won't work try plasticene or those malleable art gum erasers. I've used both when magnets won't work.
posted by substrate at 1:07 PM on June 15, 2005

Get under the edge of the screw with something (tip of an x-acto knife) and pry up while turning with a screw driver.
posted by 445supermag at 1:12 PM on June 15, 2005

blu-tak or chewing-gum or sellotape or scotch tape.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:21 PM on June 15, 2005

445supermag has it I bet. This is exactly what I was going to suggest.
posted by horseblind at 1:23 PM on June 15, 2005

Most likely the threads on either the screw or the hole are stripped. If it's the screw threads, you can replace it once it's out (yes, using 445supermag's method). If it's the hole, some kind of thread-repair operation is in order. Helicoil, tap for bigger screw, like that. Not a job for a novice.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:44 PM on June 15, 2005

As the female side it's sort of ok because the harder screw can ream new threads.

I think it's the other way around, substrate. They make the screw softer because it's a simple matter to use a new screw, but the female end can't be replaced.

What 445 said--use something sharp to lever the screw out, or sideways, so it will grip some threads, and hold it upside down when unscrewing. Gravity is your friend.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:11 PM on June 15, 2005

wgp, are you sure? I've never ever seen an aluminum screw even when working on aluminum components. I've seen iron or steel screws (once in a boat too, which wasn't very smart) and lots of brass ones.
posted by substrate at 3:24 PM on June 15, 2005

No, I'm not sure. Nowadays many things aren't made to be fixed, so you could be right. I know this to be the case with other applications, e.g., bushings are softer than shafts.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:42 PM on June 15, 2005

...lots of Google hits for aluminum screws, however.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:15 PM on June 15, 2005

ShawnString, if you're desperate and want a professional solution, take the PowerBook to a watchmaker. He'll either drill the head off with a tiny Dremel tool, open it up and extract the tip of the screw with pliers, or he'll jam the screw with a small chisel, drill a tiny hole in the center of the screw, and insert a screw extractor, which has tapered, reverse threads to grab the screw and pull it out.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:56 PM on June 15, 2005

I have used a screw gripping driver that grips the slot of the screw.
Non destructive.
posted by hortense at 11:34 PM on June 15, 2005

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