Almost every boatbuilder has had to contend with a broken screw that must be removed. This recently happened to me when my #6 self-drilling Torx screws had set firm while temporarily securing a 6mm panel to a thin Douglas-fir seam batten while the epoxy cured. Fueled by coffee and enthusiasm, I broke seven screw heads off. I should have stopped after the first one and used my soldering iron to heat the screws to loosen the rest, but that moment had passed. The screws were not stainless and their points protruded through the seam batten on the interior of the boat. They had to go.

Photographs by the author

The Unscrew-Um has started work on this screw that has lost its head. Guided by the screw shaft, the Unscrew-Um removes only a minimum of wood to extract the screw.

The conical left-hand-threaded screw-extractors that you might find in a hardware store are designed to bore into the head of a screw that has been damaged by a driver bit and then back it out. These tools can also work on a bolt or a screw with a substantial shank, but not on the thin shank of the #6 screw. For extracting broken screws, as well as those with stripped heads, there’s a tool called the Unscrew-Um.

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