What is the best way to remove screws from wood, heads stripped?


I want to remove the stock camper dinette seats from my 1992 motor home. Some of the wood screws will not turn and the heads are stripped, the holes are square, not Phillips or slotted. I was able to remove one of the benches and the table, and it has opened up the space so well. I need to get the rest removed and would like to do so without tearing up either the floor or the bench - hoping to resell it as it's in amazingly beautiful condition - upholstery and all...

I don't need the sleeping space, but I do need floor space for my dogs and to not feel cramped. I want to live in it full-time, eventually. If I cannot find a way to remove it, I will try to at least take the upholstered end and top off, so that they can be reused. Thanks for the help folks! Much appreciated.

OH, I did try the rubber band and paper ideas to give more grip on the heads, that's how I was able to get the first bench stripped screw removed. now, for the rest of it. Blessings!

q what is the best way to remove screws from wood heads stripped
This is the seat and floor area of the motor home that I am trying to remove.
q what is the best way to remove screws from wood heads stripped
This shows the beautiful aqua upholstery at the top and how the seat is set up. I need to remove the screws on the far right and around the floor, the rest only hold the seat together, and do not anchor it to the motor home, so they can stay unless I need to completely disassemble it to salvage portions.
  14 answers
  • Robyn.reviere Robyn.reviere on Feb 28, 2018
    Use a drill bit of a smaller diameter of the screws, Drill directly into the screw shaft to collapse it. The wood should then pull apart without damaging it.

  • Rebecca Boney Huss Rebecca Boney Huss on Feb 28, 2018
    I can't tell where the screws are that you're trying to get out, but I usually just drill into screw heads with a drill bit. It will peel the metal out of the screw until it's pretty much gone.

  • Karen J Karen J on Feb 28, 2018
    I just had to do this. I used a pair of locking pliers. Locked them on the partially removed screw and started turning the pliers. Screw came right out.

  • Janice Janice on Feb 28, 2018
    First drill a 1/8-in. deep hole in the center of the screw head to accept the largestscrew extractor that will fit the screw head. Place the extractor tip in the starter hole you drilled. Slowly spin the extractor counterclockwise and press down until you feel the extractor threads bite into the screw head.

  • Joy30150932 Joy30150932 on Feb 28, 2018
    You may have to drill them out and then fill the holes with a wood filler.

  • Christie Decker Christie Decker on Feb 28, 2018
    Thanks everyone!

    There was nothing to grip onto, they were sunken into the wood...I finally said enough of this nonsense and used a pry bar to break them off, may have to drill them to remove any bits and pieces that might stick up through the carpet, but it is freed from the floor and wall.

    Funny thing, some of the screws would turn but not come up, I figure they must have been rusted in and the top portion half-inch or so had no threads so nothing to propel them, some wouldn't turn at all...but those 8 screws that held it firmly in place are now not holding anything any longer. If anyone buys them for remodeling, they can deal with the head bits in their portion. :) Blessings!

  • Pamela Allen Pamela Allen on Mar 01, 2018

    In the future, try using a rubber band, the kind you get with vegetables. Place the rubber band on the top of the screw you want to remove the screw slowly with a screw driver. Amazing how this little works.

  • Itsmemic Itsmemic on Mar 01, 2018
    more room for the dogs...a woman after my own heart :)

  • William William on Mar 01, 2018
    I've ran across this kind of problem many times. I use a drill bit the same size as the head of the screw and drill the head off. It will either pop off or shred. Tedious but works.

  • LindaRS LindaRS on Mar 02, 2018
    "the holes are square, not Phillips or slotted" A screwdriver would not work as square holes require an allen wrench to remove them.

    I see that you have already removed the benches. So this is just an FYI to whomever runs into these kinds of screws. If the screw head has a six sided hole, then use a hex wrench.

  • DD DD on Mar 02, 2018
    If the screw is particularly out you can use s hacksaw to cut a notch into the screw head. then use a flat-head screwdriver and attempt to turn the screw.
    hope that helps

  • Alan R. Geddes Alan R. Geddes on Mar 03, 2018
    Use a Dremel tool with cut off wheel to make a good slot for new flat head screwdriver. Just took out about 500 screw on my rebuild and found this worked great.

  • Gail Gail on Mar 04, 2018
    Go to Home Depot & get a set of "square" driver heads/bits will fit your hand tool. You can actually buy sets of bits in different styles & sizes to use for such applications. I know this for fact, they have them in their tools Dept because my husband worked there in tools & hardware. Get one of these driver bits in size that fits your screws & your project will be easy to do.