How to Deal with a Pesky Screw

If you’re a weekend warrior who enjoys tackling do-it-yourself projects around the house, you can relate to many of the issues that arise when dealing with screws. Perhaps one of the most common problems we face with screws is their length, or lack thereof; however, threading and stripped heads are all too common. If you’ve ever wondered how to overcome these obstacles and get back to what matters, the project at hand, read these following tips on modifying and repairing a screw.

A typical scenario that many of us have faced before is either having bought screws that are too long for the job or receiving screws that are too long included with a fixture’s hardware. The last thing we want is the tip of a screw protruding through a finished cabinet or bookshelf, and if the screws included with a light fixture are longer than the allotted space, it won’t hang properly.

To fix this minor problem, simply, cut your screws down to size. But if you approach this task with a hacksaw and vise, you may find that the molehill just became a mountain and this isn’t helping your project get any closer to completion.


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Small screws should be cut to length using a more appropriate tool than a saw. In the case of extra long electrical screws, an electrician’s wire stripping tool is the proper way to cut them. The professional models contain holes underneath the jaws labeled with the most common electrical screw sizes. To cut the screw, all one has to do is thread the screw into the hole and lop it to the desired length.

Any rough edges can thereafter be smoothed by threading the screw back and forth through the cutting hole a few times. Another function of each hole is as a thread repair die. Use it to clean small rusty screws or those with paint on them. But before doing so, place a small amount or lubricant into the screw shearing hole, this makes the screw easier to turn and will prevent gunk on the screw from damaging the tool.

Still, cutting the screw and repairing it is not all that can go wrong; the other issue is repairing a stripped screw hole. Many electrical tool kits come equipped with a triple tap tool for dealing with holes that area rusty, damaged from wear, or clogged with paint, dirt, or drywall powder. The triple tap tool resembles a screwdriver however; its shaft is threaded and its name derives from the tool’s shaft, which is stepped to tap three different sizes.

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