Prevent Stripping Screws by Using Screw Bit Properly

For beginner DIY enthusiasts, using a screw bit in a drill requires a bit of practice if you want to avoid stripping the screw heads.






One question that seems to pop up in my emails regularly is how to prevent stripping screws. Most of these queries are from beginner DIY enthusiasts who are starting out with projects and are battling to complete a project without stripping a screw or driving the screw too hard into the material and creating a deep hole. I remember well when doing the DIY Divas workshops the sound of drill/drivers spinning away at high speed with the accompanying 'taka-taka' that indicates that a screwdriver head is being stripped as it is driven too hard or too fast. By this stage, the screw head is already stripped and that means you are going to struggle to take it out again if it is skew, in the wrong position or you made a boo-boo.







To avoid stripping the head of the screws there are a few steps you need to follow and we have listed these below. Once you become accustomed to the drill you are using and gain more confidence, you will realise that stripping screw heads will no longer be a problem.



Using the right screw bit

It is important that you use the right screwdriver bit for the type of screw being used. The most commonly used screwdriver bit for medium wood screws is a PZ2. Look on the bit and you will find this engraved in the metal. If you're not sure, hold the drill at a 45-degree angle. If the screw stays on the screw bit and doesn't fall off - you are using the right bit.



Firmly fitted bit

Always make sure that the screwdriver bit is firmly seated in the screw head. As you are drilling, apply pressure to the top of the screwdriver or drill/driver to ensure the bit stays in the screw head as you drill.


Hold the screw

To prevent the bit or screw from slipping as you drive into the wood, gently grip the sides of the screw to hold it in place until it starts to bite into the wood. This is fine for pine, but if you are driving into hardwood or supawood, pre-drill a pilot hole.



Using a magnetic holder for all your screwdriver bits will assist in holding the screw in place on the end of the bit. Where you are placing the screw, push down hard on the drill to make an indent and this will make driving in the screw straight easier.







If you find that the screwdriver bit still slips out of the screw head, you are not applying enough pressure to keep it firmly seated in the head. Compensate by pushing down harder with your left hand on top of the back end of the drill, or by putting your shoulder into it.



Remember to ease back on the pressure when the screw is almost in place. Too much pressure and you will end up sinking the screw too deeply into the wood or board. Quick bursts of on and off will also give you more control over how deep the screw is driven into the timber or board.



As they say, practice makes perfect, and the more you drive in screws - the more you know what works best for you.