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Have you ever needed to remove a hex screw but don’t have an Allen key that fits and you couldn’t find your hex screwdriver? It can be frustrating to have a project on hold because of a missing tool, but before you break out the claw hammer and just rip it out (which isn’t really a good idea anyway) there are alternative methods to remove hex screws.
If your hex wrench is lost you don’t have any other way getting that bolt lose, and you don’t want to spend a bunch of money I’ve got you covered.
In this article, we’ll explore different ways to remove hex screws without a hex screwdriver. From using a rubber band to creating your own tool, we’ll cover a variety of options to help you get the job done.
By the way – before we get too far along here, if you want to connect with other homeowners, DIYers, and builders and get more great ideas for your home to make your space the best join my free private Facebook group, Remodel Reality here.
How to Choose the Right Tool for Removing Hex Screws
Removing a hexagonal screw without a hexagonal screwdriver can be a challenging task, but it’s not impossible. There are several methods that you can use to remove hex screws without the proper tools, and they all require a bit of patience and creativity.
When it comes to removing hex screws, selecting the right tool is crucial for a successful extraction.
What Type of Hex Screw Is it?
Just because it has six sides, doesn’t mean one method is going to work for all hex screws, so it’s essential to understand the type of hex screw you’re dealing with before attempting to remove it.
Hex fasteners is a broader term that encompasses various types of fasteners, including hex bolts, hexagonal screws, hex head screws, and hex cap screws. These fasteners share a common hexagonal-shaped head, making them compatible with hex keys and wrenches for installation and removal.
Allen screws or Allen bolts (a type of hex bolt) are fastened or loosened with Allen keys, come in a wide range of sizes, from tiny ones used in electronic devices to larger, heavy-duty varieties found in automotive and construction applications.
A 6-point Torx screw is a type of screw with a 6-pointed star-shaped recess in the head, designed to be used with a Torx screwdriver or bit. It offers improved torque transmission and reduced likelihood of cam-out compared to other screw types, making it popular in various industries and applications.
Some hex screws are designed with tamper-resistant features, like a pin in the center of the socket or a unique shape that requires a specialized tool to remove, which can make extraction even more difficult.
The Different Kinds of Hex Keys
There are several types of hex keys, also known as Allen keys or hex wrenches, each designed for specific applications and user preferences. The most common type is the L-shaped hex key, which provides leverage and easy access to tight spaces. Another popular option is the T-handle hex key, which has a T-shaped handle that allows for increased torque and more comfortable grip. T-handle hex keys are especially useful when working on projects that require extended periods of tightening or loosening hex fasteners.
Some hex keys also feature ball ends, which have a rounded tip instead of the traditional hexagonal shape. Ball-end hex keys allow for better access to hard-to-reach screws, as they can be inserted at an angle. However, they may not provide as much torque as the standard hex keys.
Consider the Screw Size and Material
Before attempting to remove a hex screw, it’s important to consider the size and material of the screw. This will help you determine the appropriate tool for the job. Hex screws come in a variety of sizes and materials, including stainless steel, brass, and aluminum. Some screws may also be coated with a layer of rust or corrosion, making them more difficult to remove.
This is important because the material can impact how easily the screw can be removed and which tools and methods are going to be most effective. For instance, a hardened steel screw might require a more robust technique than a softer metal counterpart.
Evaluate the Available Tools
Once you’ve determined the size and material of the hex screw, you can evaluate the available tools for removing it. Hex screws can be removed with a variety of tools, including:
- Hex key sets or wrenches
- Ball peen hammer
- Flathead screwdriver
- Torx screwdriver
- Socket wrench
Each tool has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the best tool for the job will depend on the specific circumstances of the task.
Assess the Difficulty of the Task
Assessing the difficulty of the task is crucial when it comes to removing a hex screw. It’s important to consider the condition of the screw, as some screws may be stripped or corroded, making them more challenging to remove. In such cases, it may be necessary to use a combination of tools or techniques to successfully remove the screw.
Another factor to consider is the location of the screw and the amount of space available to work with. Tight spaces may require specialized tools, such as a ratchet or a flexible shaft screwdriver which can allow for easier access to the screw and make it easier to remove.
Tips for Removing Hex Screws without a Hex Screwdriver
Embarking on a DIY project or repair without the right tools can be frustrating, but sometimes we must think outside the box to achieve our goals. When faced with the challenge of removing hex screws without a hex screwdriver, creativity and resourcefulness become essential.
Ensuring a Good Grip
One of the biggest challenges when removing hex screws without a hex screwdriver is ensuring that you have a good grip on the screw. Without the proper grip, it can be difficult to turn the screw and apply enough pressure to remove it. Here are a few tips to help ensure a good grip:
- Use pliers or a wrench to grip the screw tightly
- Use a rubber band or a piece of cloth to wrap around the screw and increase grip
- Try using a pair of vice grips to secure the screw in place
Applying Enough Pressure
Another challenge when removing hex screws without a hex screwdriver is applying enough pressure to turn the screw. Here are a few tips to help apply enough pressure:
- Use a flathead screwdriver to turn the screw, making sure it fits snugly into the hex socket
- Use a pair of pliers or a wrench to turn the screw, applying steady pressure
- Try using a hammer and chisel to tap the screw counterclockwise, being careful not to damage the surrounding area
Removing hex screws without a hex screwdriver can be a time-consuming process, especially if the screw is stripped or corroded. Here are a few tips to help you be patient during the process:
- Apply penetrating oil to the screw and wait for it to soak in before attempting to remove the screw
- Use heat to loosen the screw, either by using a heat gun or by heating the surrounding area with a hair dryer
- Take breaks as needed to avoid getting frustrated or fatigued
Easiest and Most Accessible Methods
When it comes to tackling hex screws without a hex screwdriver, there are methods that are both simple and readily available for anyone to use. With just a bit of ingenuity and some common household items, you’ll find that even the most daunting of tasks can be conquered.
If you don’t have a hex screwdriver, but you do have a torx wrench, you can use it to remove hex screws. Torx wrenches have a star-shaped tip that can fit snugly into a hex screw. Simply insert the torx wrench into the screw and turn it counterclockwise to loosen and remove the screw.
Using a Rubber Band
If you don’t have any tools handy, you can try using a rubber band to remove a hex screw. Place the rubber band over the head of the screw, making sure it is snug. Then, insert your screwdriver into the screw and turn counterclockwise. The rubber band will provide extra grip and help turn the screw.
If the hex screw is not too tight, you can try using pliers to remove it. Simply grip the head of the screw with the pliers and turn it counterclockwise. Be careful not to apply too much pressure, as this can strip the screw.
Using Friction Drops
If the hex screw is stuck due to rust or corrosion, you can try using friction drops to loosen it. Apply a few drops of friction drops to the screw and wait a few minutes for it to penetrate. Then, use your hex screwdriver to turn the screw counterclockwise.
For more complex jobs, you may need to use more advanced tools and techniques. Here are a few tips for intermediate methods.
Using A Hammer and Flathead Screwdriver
If you have a flathead screwdriver that is slightly smaller than the hex screw, you can use it to remove the hex screw. Here’s how:
- Place the flathead screwdriver tip on the hex screw.
- Use a hammer to gently tap the screwdriver into the hex screw.
- Turn the screwdriver counterclockwise to remove the hex screw.
Using A Center Punch
If you have a center punch, you can use it to remove the hex screw. Here’s how:
- Place the center punch on the center of the hex screw.
- Use a hammer to tap the center punch into the hex screw.
- Turn the hex screw counterclockwise to remove it.
Using An Old Hex Key and Epoxy
If you have an old hex key and some epoxy, you can use them to remove the hex screw. Here’s how:
- Place the hex key into the hex screw.
- Apply some epoxy to the end of the hex key.
- Wait for the epoxy to dry.
- Turn the hex key counterclockwise to remove the hex screw.
Use An Old Plastic Toothbrush
Similar to the epoxy method, if you’re feeling resourceful, or you don’t have epoxy handy to use, you can attempt something similar using the melted plastic from an old toothbrush.
- Heat the end of a plastic toothbrush so that it softens.
- After that, stick it in the screw’s tip and wait for it to dry. When it hardens again, turn it opposite direction. Don’t put too much pressure.
- Just make sure you do NOT breathe the fumes!
Cutting A New Slot
If all else fails, you can cut a new slot into the hex screw. Here’s how:
- Use a rotary tool like a Dremel tool or hacksaw to create a slot across the head of the hex screw.
- Insert a flathead, slotted screwdriver into the new slot.
- Turn the screwdriver counterclockwise to remove the hex screw.
More Advanced Methods
Sometimes you have to break out the power tools to get the job done. These techniques may require additional tools or a bit more finesse, but they can be incredibly effective when used correctly.
Drilling The Screw Out
If you have a stripped hex screw that won’t budge, drilling it out may be your best option. Here are the steps to follow:
- Choose the right drill bit: Select a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the screw’s head. You don’t want to drill into the surface below the screw.
- Mark the center: Place a center punch in the center of the screw’s head and tap it with a hammer to create a small indentation. This will help keep the drill bit in place.
- Drill the screw: Carefully drill straight down into the center of the screw, applying gentle pressure. Once the drill bit has penetrated the screw, you can switch to a larger bit and continue drilling until the screw head comes off.
Using A Screw Extractor
If you don’t want to drill out the screw, you can try using a screw extractor. Screw extractors are specialized tools designed to remove damaged or stripped screws and bolts with ease. They feature a reverse-threaded design that grips onto the damaged fastener, allowing it to be unscrewed and extracted from the material. Here’s how:
- Select the right extractor: Choose an extractor that is slightly smaller than the screw’s shaft. You don’t want to damage the surrounding material.
- Drill a hole: Using a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the extractor, drill a hole in the center of the screw’s head.
- Insert the extractor: Insert the extractor into the hole and turn it counterclockwise. The extractor should grip the screw and turn it out.
If the screw is stuck due to rust or corrosion, applying heat can help break the bond. Here’s what to do:
- Heat the screw: Use a heat gun or propane torch to heat the screw for several seconds. Be careful not to overheat the surrounding material.
- Use pliers: Once the screw is hot, use pliers to turn it counterclockwise. The heat should have loosened the bond, making it easier to remove the screw.
Removing Hex Screws in Tight Spaces
Navigating tight spaces when trying to remove hex screws can be a real challenge. But with the right approach and a touch of ingenuity, it’s entirely possible to overcome these obstacles.
Using a Ball-end Hex Screwdriver
If you have a ball-end hex screwdriver, it can be a lifesaver when it comes to removing hex screws in tight spaces. The ball-end allows for greater flexibility and maneuverability, making it easier to access screws that are difficult to reach. Simply insert the ball-end into the screw and turn it counterclockwise. Be sure to apply steady pressure and avoid using too much force, as this can cause the screw to strip.
Using Needle-nose Pliers
Another option for removing hex screws in tight spaces is to use needle-nose pliers. Grip the head of the screw firmly with the pliers and turn counterclockwise. This method can be particularly effective when dealing with screws that are partially stripped or have a damaged head that makes it difficult to grip with a screwdriver.
Using an Offset Screwdriver
An offset screwdriver is another tool that can be useful when removing hex screws in tight spaces. The offset design allows you to access screws that are at an angle or in hard-to-reach areas. Simply insert the screwdriver into the screw and turn counterclockwise. The offset design may require a bit of practice to get used to, but it can be a valuable addition to your toolbox.
Remember to always use caution when removing hex screws, especially in tight spaces. Applying too much force or using the wrong tool can cause the screw to strip or become damaged, making it even more difficult to remove. If you’re having trouble removing a hex screw, consider seeking the help of a professional or consulting additional resources for guidance.
Additional Tips and Tricks
Using Heat and Lubricant Together
If the hex screw is stuck or rusted, applying heat and lubricant together can loosen it. Heat the screw with a heat gun or lighter for a few seconds, then apply a lubricant such as WD-40 or penetrating oil. This will help to break down any rust or debris that may be holding the screw in place.
Preventing Further Damage To the Screw & The Object It’s Stuck In
When removing hex screws, it’s important to take care not to damage the screw or the object it’s stuck in. If the screwdriver is slipping or not fitting properly, stop and reassess the situation. Using too much force can strip the screw head or damage the object, making it even harder to remove the screw.
Using the Right Size and Type of Tool
Make sure to use the right size and type of tool for the job. Using the wrong tool can damage the screw or the object it’s stuck in, and make it harder to remove. If you’re not sure what tool to use, consult the manufacturer’s instructions or seek advice from a professional.
Applying the Correct Amount of Pressure
When removing hex screws, it’s important to apply the correct amount of pressure. Too much pressure can strip the screw head or damage the object, while too little pressure can cause the screwdriver to slip. Apply firm, steady pressure and use a twisting motion to turn the screwdriver.
Try Simpler Methods First
Before resorting to more advanced methods, try simpler methods first. For example, tapping the screwdriver lightly with a hammer can help to loosen a stuck screw. Also, make sure that the screwdriver is clean and free from debris, as this can affect its grip on the screw.
Be Patient and Move Slowly Through the Removal Process
Removing hex screws can be a time-consuming process, especially if they are stuck or rusted. Be patient and move slowly through the removal process, using gentle pressure and taking breaks as needed. Rushing or using too much force can cause more harm than good.
Torque Wrench Applications for Hex Fasteners
It’s crucial to understand the role of a torque wrench in tightening hex fasteners. A torque wrench is a specialized tool designed to apply a specific amount of torque or rotational force to a fastener, ensuring that it is tightened to the correct tightness and preventing over-tightening or under-tightening. Fastening hex screws with a torque wrench when it comes to replace them is a good idea to avoid problems with them getting stuck in the future.
How to unscrew a tight hex screw
If the hex screw is tight and won’t budge, there are several things you can try:
- Use pliers or a wrench to get a better grip on the screw and turn it counterclockwise.
- Apply penetrating oil to the screw and let it sit for a few minutes before trying to turn it again.
- Heat the screw with a heat gun or a lighter for a few seconds to expand the metal and then try to loosen it.
How to unscrew an Allen screw without an Allen wrench
If you don’t have Allen wrenches nearby, you can still remove an Allen screw by:
- Using a flathead screwdriver that fits the groove of the screw and turn it counterclockwise.
- Creating a groove in the screw head with a hacksaw and using a flathead screwdriver to remove it.
- Using pliers or a wrench to grip the screw and turn it counterclockwise.
What tool can be used to loosen a hex nut
If you need to loosen a hex nut, you can use:
- A wrench or pliers to turn it counterclockwise.
- A socket wrench with a hexagonal socket that fits the nut.
- A crescent wrench, which can be adjusted to fit different sizes of nuts.
Can you drill out an Allen screw
Yes, you can drill out an Allen screw if all other methods have failed. Use a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the screw and drill into the center of the screw head. Keep drilling until the head of the screw comes off, then remove the remaining part of the screw with pliers or a wrench.
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