How to Not Strip Screws in Wood

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Driving screws into wood occasionally presents a problem. If the screw encounters tension, it can cause the screwdriver to slip and spin on the screw head. When the driver tip spins on the head, it will cause the screw to strip. You can prevent stripped screws by drilling pilot holes into the wood and using specific techniques for driving the screws.

Things You'll Need

  • Drill
  • Drill bit
  • Screwdriver
  • Examine the shaft of the wood screw you're using for your project. Determine the size of the shaft.

  • Load your drill with a drill bit that is smaller in diameter than the screw shaft. For example, if the screw has a 1/8-inch diameter, use a 1/16-inch drill bit in softwood and a 5/64-inch bit in hardwood. The pilot hole for hardwood should be closer in size to the screw shaft, because the screw grips more easily in hardwood.

  • Drill the pilot hole in the wood to the depth of the screw shaft's length.

  • Hold the screw at the opening of the pilot hole. Insert the tip of the screwdriver into the screw head. Hold the driver in line with the screw so that the driver tip grips the screw head.

  • Drive the screw into the wood until the head is flush with the surface. Back the screw out slightly if the screwdriver slips off the head or you meet resistance. Reverse the direction of the screwdriver, then slowly begin driving the screw in again.

  • Remove the screw if it is beginning to strip. Replace it with a new screw. A partially stripped screw can be difficult to remove once it is in the wood.

Tips & Warnings

  • Apply pressure on the head with the tip of the driver to keep the tip inside the screw head.
  • Wear eye protection when driving screws into wood.

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References

  • Photo Credit screws image by Eldin Muratovic from Fotolia.com
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