Stripped Screws

by Elizabeth

I found this piece at the resale shop today (cat added for size reference). I am going to refinish it to use in the bathroom. When I started to take off the hinges I found pretty brass hinges under the paint. I also found that the screws are stripped and I can't get them out. So, 2 questions: 1) What is the best way to remove the stripped screws? 2) Is it possible to get all the paint off the hinges so that I can reuse them?

  18 answers
  • Swan Road Designs Swan Road Designs on Feb 16, 2015
    Whew! You do have a tough nut to crack but it can be done. When my late husband faced this challenge in his furniture restoration shop, he used something called Screw Medic. It came in a small squeeze bottle, probably only an ounce or so, and was used to keep the screwdriver from slipping out of the screw notches. I still have some of the stuff and it looks a lot like fine graphite suspended in a thick oil-like substance. Doesn't say on the bottle what it is so I'm only describing as best I can. He just put the tiniest bit, not even a drop, on the top of the screw, pressed the screwdriver hard and, in time, the screw would come out. However, you do have the issue of tons of paint on the screw heads. Perhaps, if you're going to strip the piece anyway, why not simply strip the hardware while it's still in place. The metal shouldn't be damaged by the stripper. At least, some of the paint will, hopefully, get out of the screw heads and you can more easily take off the hinges. If you can't find any Screw Medic, you could try drilling out the old screws and salvaging the hinges. New brass screws are easily available.
  • JEWEL C JEWEL C on Feb 16, 2015
    There's a tool called screw extractor you can get and use your electric drill. I would advise removing as much paint as possible from the heads first.
  • Cathy C Cathy C on Feb 16, 2015
    You can try a heavy duty rubber band, like the kind used to hold produce like broccoli. Place the rubber band over the screw head and use heavy pressure with the screwdriver as you turn it. Once you get the screw up a little bit you can use needle nose pliers to finish the job.
  • Cathy C Cathy C on Feb 16, 2015
    Have a Dremel or equivalent tool? Use the Dremel to cut a notch in the screw head. Then take a flat-head screw driver and try and unscrew it using the notch you created.
  • Dianna Wood Dianna Wood on Feb 16, 2015
    After removing the paint from the screw, use a small pair of vice grip pliers and holding them strait on top of the screw head, clamp them down. You can now turn the screws with the vice grip lock on.
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  • Dianna Wood Dianna Wood on Feb 16, 2015
    I found this great post on stripping hardware. Fill a crock pot with water, put it on high; place the hinges in the crockpot and let them stay for a couple hours, the metal heats up and the paint slips right off. Use tongs to remove the hardware as they will be really hot.
    • See 1 previous
    • Dianna Wood Dianna Wood on Feb 17, 2015
      Sounds like a great idea. Or get one at a thrift store so you don't have to worry about it!
  • Katrina Warren Katrina Warren on Feb 17, 2015
    @Elizabeth Try placing a rubber band between the screw head & the screw driver, it helps the screw driver grip the stripped out head to unscrew them. Also I would try putting the hinges in a crock pot with a little dish soap for a few hours to remove the paint, or if you have a dremel hand tool you can use the wire wheel attachment to strip the paint off the hinges.
  • Cindy Curtis Cindy Curtis on Feb 17, 2015
    You can get on pinterest and find out everything you need to know about any project. you have to join but it is all free. I have 236 boards there and I know this in on one of my boards called Handy tips.
  • Country Design Home Country Design Home on Feb 17, 2015
    I usually use a pair of needle nose pliers to remove stripped screws. If you put one of the tips of the pliers in the center then you can grab an edge and twist it to remove the screw. For removing the paint from hinges, place in a saucepan, then cover with water, add 2 Tblsp of white vinegar and a little dish soap. Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Keep checking to make sure the water doesn't boil away. After 30 minutes, remove the hinges, then wipe away paint with a towel. Use an old toothbrush to clean the intricate details. Good luck!
  • Kathleen Kathleen on Feb 17, 2015
    I love that women are answering this question - you go girls.
  • Ang Ang on Feb 17, 2015
    i use an old pot .. cover the bottom in baking soda . add the hard ware cover it just to over top the hard ware and simmer for a half hour .. works like crazy .. BUT remember to oil afterward so you dont have rust ..
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Feb 17, 2015
    There is a gadget for removing stripped screws although other idea sound good. To quickly remove the paint, use a stripper. Wash off well with soapy water, polish with Peek, and then spray on Clear Coat from the automotive section - will stay bright and shiny - never polish again! .Have lots of experience - all the door hardware in my old home is brass so as I reno/deco each room, I do its hardware.
  • Kelly S Kelly S on Feb 18, 2015
    The paint appears to still be in the screws. I use a heavy needle to dig and scrape the paint out of the heads before I even try to use a screwdriver. Cut the screws off with a dremel and replace them.
  • Carole Carole on Feb 18, 2015
    Coming at it from a different angle. That piece is gorgeous as it is. It is a shame it won't fit with your bathroom décor without doing anything to it. People put in a lot of hard work to make pieces look shabby like that! I guess it is our human nature to change things and of course you want it for your bathroom, so I hope you get the answers to your problem here. I have a seized bolt in a Singer sewing machine frame which is also proving a devil of a task to try to get it out. They put the leg on back to front with the Singer logo on the inside of the frame instead of the outside. I am wondering whether to leave as is and not waste any more of my time trying to undo the bolt to turn it the right way round. ie embrace this quirk or whether to keep trying. Some of the options for stripped screws given here sound worth trying. Good luck with your makeover and I hope you get it sorted and post when you are done.
  • Deltamom Deltamom on Mar 21, 2016
    The screws have paint in them still. I used a tiny screw driver and a small hammer to,get the stuck on paint out of my kitchen cabinet screws. What a difference! I Was able to get all the screws out that i had thought were stripped. Its a tedious process but you dont have that many. Imagine a whole kitchen with all the screws having paint in them. Ugh!
  • Deb K Deb K on Oct 03, 2023

    Hi Elizabeth, here's one way to get the painted screws out.

    Some ideas for removing stripped screws,help%20remove%20the%20stripped%20screw.