There are many jobs you can do around the home that save you money, especially if you have the right tools. DIY is a great way of getting stuff fixed, installed and built without having to pay a professional. After all, a great deal of the furniture we have in our homes came in a flat box, with assembly needed! Usually, all you need to put flat-pack furniture together is a screwdriver and perhaps a light hammer for putting tacks in, but what about those more complex DIY jobs?
Many people are competent enough to indulge in basic carpentry – hanging doors, fitting cupboards and more – and it can be very satisfying to look at fixtures and fittings in the home and know that you did that! Once again, having the right tools to hand is always necessary, and yet there are some tools that you might not have thought about.
Here’s a scene: you’re taking down some old cupboards to replace with new ones. What slows you down? It’s the same every time: there’s always a couple of screws where the had has been stripped and a screwdriver won’t do it anymore! You struggle with pliers, hit them with hammers, and whatever else you think might work – but it never does!
So, what you need is a screw extractor. What are they, and how do they work? Screw extractors are usually made from very tough steel, and they have a threaded head. They fit in one of your multi-head screwdrivers and you basically screw them into the head of the screw itself. They take a grip and – just like that – you can unscrew the damaged one with ease.
Usually, you’ll find them in sets of a few – four seems to be the standard – so they cover a variety of sizes of screw, and they are not expensive. What they are is an essential addition to any toolkit, so we took a look at some of the screw extractors on the market right now, to see if we can find one that is right for you.
Before we start, a little bit of jargon explained: you will find us mentioning HRC. This is the Rockwell Hardness scale, and it is used to measure the hardness of steel in items such as this plus knife blades and others. Basically, with one of these sets, you’re looking at 60HRC and above for effectiveness.
The Top Screw Extractor Sets
Our first example is a great place to start as it is a very typical example. You’ll find us repeating many of the features in these descriptions, given that these devices are designed to perform a very specific task, but there are also some differences along the way. This example is branded SKMoon – we suspect you’ll also find it branded otherwise – and is a four-piece set of screw extractors. They are made from hardened stainless steel, with a hardness of 62-63HRC.
The size of the heads here covers 3-5mm, 4-8mm, 5-10mm and 6-12mm, so that should have pretty much all your requirements covered. They come in a nice plastic case and are suitable for use with hand and – more effectively – powered screwdrivers. What we did notice, however, is that customer reviews are split between ‘great product’ and similar, and ‘did not work’, which is the other end of the scale. We reckon they’re worth a look at the price.
- 62-63 HRC
- Hardened steel
- 3 to 12mm
- Split customer satisfaction
This set offers a choice of solutions to your stuck or broken screw dilemma. It comprises of 5 x screw extractors as well as 5 x left-handed drill bits, which can often be used to great effect to drill broken bolts out, leaving a thread intact. They are made from high strength steel for added performance, and are supplied in a rather nice little metal box that should keep them where you need them to be when you want them.
Sizes for the extractors are #1 through #5 – that covers everything from 3mm to 14mm screw heads – and the drill bits are 5/64” to 19/64”, which is also pretty comprehensive. What about customers? Well, some like them very much and state they do a good job. We did find, however, a large number of complaints say the drill bits are too soft and cannot handle bolts.
- 5 x extractors
- 5 x reverse drill bits
- Metal carry case
- Decent price
- Complaints about poor quality drill bits
Our next example is from the Laser brand, and is a neat little package with fives sizes of screw extractor heads. These cover the sizes of 3-6mm through to 18-25mm, so should easily handle even the largest of broken screws. Unlike the above, these are made from very hard chrome molybdenum, so should also withstand the most rigorous of use. They come with a fitted tough plastic carry case so you can always have them close to hand.
Made in the UK by a company with many years of experience in similar products, this set is pretty impressive for under a tenner, and we are also impressed with the quantity of very positive customer reviews we have read along the way. Most say these screw extractors do a decent job, with a sole buyer complaining that they don’t do the job at all. Worth a second look at the price.
- 5 pack
- Chrome molybdenum
- 3mm up to 25mm screw heads covered
- Very positive customer reactions
- Sensible price
This set of six screw extractors comes from Ryster Tools, and is a nice set at the price which is something short of £10. The screw extractors are made from hardened stainless steel – there is no mention of the HRC rating – and come in a neat carrying box made from strong plastic. These are double ended designs also, so you drill the head, then switch it over and use it as a screwdriver.
The six heads cover standard size 0 – that’s 2.3mm – right up to size 4, which can handle 5-10mm. This means that you are buying a set aimed at standard type smaller screw heads, and anything above 10mm may not be applicable to these. Nevertheless, they meet with some very good customer reviews – indeed, in the main they are praised – with only a few complaints that they don’t do the job as well as they could.
- 5 pack
- Only up to 10mm head size
- Handle 2mm head size
- Hardened stainless steel
- Great price
This set comes from Silverline, who offer a range of products of this sort, and is another that combines screw extractor heads with reverse drill bits. This allows you to tackle both screws that have been threaded or flattened, and bolts that need drilling out. All parts are black-oxide coated hardened stainless steel, and you get a fitted carry case in which they all sit neatly clipped in with no movement.
The screw extractor heads cover sizes from 3mm all the way up to 25mm, while the drill bits are standard sizes 1mm through 6mm, so you have a broad range of implements to use when you need them. This pack is around £10 at the time of writing, which is a decent price, but there are some reservations. A large number of users have complained that, in fact, the drill bits are standard right-handed, so are no good for removing screws, and the extractors thread or blunt very easily.
- 12 piece set
- Fitted box
- Hardened stainless steel
- Full range of sizes
- Drill bits not left handed
- Concerns about quality
Whenever we look at hardware and household items the Tacklife brand comes up. They offer a wide variety of affordable, mid-range tools and other items, and this comprehensive drill bit set is a good example. It is primarily a drill bit set – including 8 drill bits, plus 20 different screwdriver heads and relevant convertors and extenders – but also features 8 extractor bits covering 2mm through to 12mm, so not the widest coverage on this list.
This one comes with a magnetic bit holder for added versatility and all parts are in a fitted box, plus there are a number of other accessories included. At around £25 this is decent value if you are in need of extractor bits and drill and screwdriver attachments, and a lot of buyers rate the set as ‘excellent’ and ‘sturdy and well-made’. There are a few customers who call it ‘disappointing’, but we reckon have another look.
- Comprehensive drill bit and screwdriver head package
- 8 x extractor bits
- Magnetic bit holder
- Fitted case
- Great price
This nicely-presented 11-piece set – it comes in a tough plastic box with fitments for each item – features a set of five each of screw extractors, and reverse thread drill bits. All parts are made from very tough chrome vanadium steel, which should last a long time and tackle any screw. There is also a tap holder device; this is a clever appliance used to grip the shafts of snapped screws to extract them more easily, and is a welcome addition.
Extractors cover sizes #1 to #5, which is 3mm all the way to and in between, while the drill bits are sizes #1 to #5 also, which is 2mm to 7.5mm diameter. This is a decent set, then, at a price of around £10. Or is it? When we began to look at what customers have said, it raised some concerns. Bits are off centre and snap easily, extractors similar, and it would seem that overall quality is not great, so perhaps this is one to pass over.
- Fitted box
- 5 x drill bits
- 5 x extractors
- Tap holder
- Many complaints about general quality
Some of the items on our list offer additional bits and pieces to make them more attractive to buyers, while others are simply what we are looking for – a set of screw extractors. This one is just that, a five-piece pack in a nice little case featuring sizes #1 to #5, which is everywhere from 3mm up to 18mm, so should cover every option apart from very large screws. They are made from drop forged hardened steel, and they have also been bought by a lot of people.
There is a good reason for that: you can buy this set of five screw extractors, in their plastic box, for a couple of pounds plus a few pennies. Yes, we did say £2 and a bit. Now, that makes us think ‘they’re very cheap, so they must be poor’. In fact, while quite a number of customers complained about the metal being too soft and similar, an equal number – in fact more – say that they do the job you would expect for the money. We certainly recommend you have a close look at these at such a price.
- 5 piece extractor set
- Fitted case
- Tough steel
- #1 through to #5 size
- Very, very cheap
- Customers split on effectiveness
This is another very, very cheap example which is exactly what it says on the box. You get four screw extractors, and that’s about all we can say as details are very scant. You also get a little box that they fit in. The extractors are made of hardened steel, and the makers claim they can remove, and we quote, ‘ANY screw size or bolt’. We take that with a pinch of salt, especially given the customer testimonies we will come to in a minute. We were also put off by ‘As Seen on TV’ which usually means, in our opinion, ‘Cheap and Nasty’.
Now, having said that, you do get four extractor bits, and for under £3. A lot of people have purchased this set – no surprise at the price, you really can’t go wrong – and many of those are satisfied with what they have. Others, and in equally large numbers, say the bits are ‘useless’, ‘a waste of money’ and even ‘might be a fake product’ (please remember, these are not our opinions, but those of others). It’s up to you!
- 4 pack
- Hardened steel
- Fitted box
- Amazing price
- Complaints about overall quality are rife
Our final item is from Sealey, a brand with a reputation for decent products of this type at sensible prices. This is a 10-piece, dedicated screw extractor set, and comes in a nice plastic case with a compartment for each head. Sizes run from 3mm, right up to 10mm, and the heads are maid of hardened chrome molybdenum steel that has been heat-treated. They look the part, the case is quality, and this is a known brand.
This set costs a couple of quid less than £20 and, as such is not therefore super-cheap like some of these, but it is a quality set, and customers by and large like them, with just a few complaining they broke. We did notice one user say that their rating was higher as ‘technique is everything’, and it is so that you need to get it right for them to work – that applies to all on the list.
- 10 piece set
- Known brand
- Nice case
- Hardened steel
- Not cheap
So, there’s our selection of 10 screw extractor sets that might be the ones for you, but is there a clear pick? Let’s just talk about what you need to look for when buying one of these.
Some Points to Consider
One of the most frequent complaints from buyers of these products, and this is not limited to a few but applies to all, is that the extractor heads don’t work or become blunt very quickly. We have noticed, however, that quite a few people have commented that there is a certain technique to using one of these, especially if you are a novice. We believe that perhaps mis-use – rather than the quality of the item – is responsible for a good number of negative results, so that is certainly worth bearing in mind.
Another point to consider is whether you want to buy a set of screw extractors, or are looking for a set with drill bits and more. There are items that cover all the bases on the list, and while some of the dedicated screw extractor sets are ridiculously cheap, others are not so, hence the difficulty in choosing. Also, if this is for DIY work, you’re unlikely to be dealing with 25mm screws, so a smaller range will suffice.
Is there a set we like? There is, but we’ll give you an option, so let’s see if we can wrap this up!
So, we arrive here after looking at 10 perfectly decent sets of screw extractors, each of which has its own merits. We said we’d give you a choice, so here goes!
If you’re new to using one of these, and perhaps need one just to get a few screws out without ever intending to do so again, buy the Amtech SO900 Screw Extractor. You’ll get plenty of change from a fiver, and you can see if you need a better set for future use.
If you do want a decent quality screw extractor set, our recommendation is the Sealey AK8181 10-piece. It’s good quality, you get ten attachments, it’s nicely made and from a good brand, and does the job.
So, there you have it; never get annoyed at stuck screws again, as you can find the tool you need on the list above!