Over time, the head of a screw on a door knob can become “stripped,” meaning that the head becomes worn. This makes the screw difficult to remove because there is no longer a distinct surface for a screwdriver to grip. This can be frustrating. It can be even more frustrating when you need to remove a stripped mounting screw from a doorknob. The odd angle you will often encounter, as well as the obstacle of the knob itself, can make this task seem daunting. But there are a few steps that you can take to ensure that the screws are removed successfully.
Step 1 — What Not to Do
Don’t make the problem any worse than it is. If you are attempting to remove the screw and your screwdriver keeps slipping, stop what you’re doing. This will only result in the screw head being stripped further, and it can cause the screwdriver bit to be damaged also. You also want to be sure that you are turning your screwdriver in the correct direction (remember, “righty tighty, lefty loosey”), and that you are applying enough pressure to the screw that the screwdriver bit has the best chance at gripping the stripped screw.
Step 2 — Use a Different Screwdriver
Often, you will find that using a screwdriver with a bigger, wider head will help grip a stripped screw because it fills in more of the space that has been worn away from the screw head. Additionally, the screw you may be trying to remove might also have a head that can fit both a Phillips-head screwdriver and a flat-head screwdriver, and you may want to try using the other of the two you are trying to use. Again, you will want to use a bigger head to catch as much of the stripped space as possible.
Step 3 — Try Hammering the Screwdriver into the Screw Head
If you place the screwdriver into the stripped screw head and gently tap it with a hammer (similar to how you might hammer a chisel), you can embed the screwdriver bit into the screw enough to get a better grip on it. However, this is a tricky thing to do when dealing with doorknob mounting screws, since you don’t want to damage the doorknob.
Step 4 — Add Friction
A good trick to try is to place a wide, flat rubber band between the screwdriver and the screw head. This will fill more of the stripped space, and it will aid in the friction needed for the screwdriver bit to grasp the screw.
Step 5 — When in Doubt, Use a Screw Extractor
A screw extractor is similar to a screwdriver bit, but it is specifically designed to fill and catch onto the inside of a stripped screw head. If you have, or if you purchase, a screw extractor, your best choice is to use it. If not, Steps 2 through 4 should be very helpful for you.