Removing Screws, Stuck or Otherwise

You got 'em, we know how to clean 'em
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bvandeuson
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Removing Screws, Stuck or Otherwise

Post by bvandeuson »

As I was reading the post on stuck screws, it occurred to me that there is another part of the equation I didn't see discussed...the use of properly fitting screw drivers. This applies mainly to straight slotted screws, but is applicable to Phillips heads, as well.

I was a gunsmith for many years, and like vintage fishing reels, guns are loaded with straight slotted screws, with slots in all widths and lengths, which in order to avoid damage required a screwdriver which fit the slot perfectly, even to the point of snugly. Don't use drivers which overhang the ends of the slot, they can damage the surrounding area. These screws come in all head and slot sizes, requiring a screwdriver set able to accommodate them.

Hardware store screwdrivers mostly have tips with tapered sides, rather than straight, parallel sides which is the way proper screw slots are made. The screwdriver sets which use the small replaceable bits, mostly have the straight sides necessary to fit the slot completely, all the way to the bottom.

Brownells, the gunsmith supply house, has a few sets using these replaceable bits, which offer bits in different widths and thicknesses for properly fitting into screws. I've been using their deluxe set, with a package of additional bits to round it out, for years. One thing to note, if a screwdriver bit needs to be slightly modified for an exact fit, they also have a small grinding wheel which fits the curvature. One of the screwdriver handles they offer also has a hole near the top of the handle where a piece of 1/4" steel rod fits to help provide additional torque.

The one thing which turns me off, is a reel or gun with buggered screws, and they're usually screws which are not available as spare parts. Do yourself a favor, if you like taking your reels apart for whatever reason, take care not to mess up the screw heads. This also applies to those combination straight and Phillips screw slots on modern reels. Use a properly-fitting screwdriver in the straight part of the slot, as the Phillips part is too small and weak if the screw is stuck, or firmly tightened.

I'll get off my soapbox now.

Bruce

Don Champion
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Re: Removing Screws, Stuck or Otherwise

Post by Don Champion »

And where do you find a screw driver with an end .015" thick and 1/4" across?

bvandeuson
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Re: Removing Screws, Stuck or Otherwise

Post by bvandeuson »

Don Champion wrote:And where do you find a screw driver with an end .015" thick and 1/4" across?
The same thing I would have done as a gunsmith. Older European shotguns were plagued by screws with very thin slots.

My smallest 1/4" standard size bit in the Brownell's set is .020. I would then have used the small grinding stone made for that purpose and slowly reduced the driver thickness until it fit the slot. If you have a driver handle for the standard 1/4" hex bits, find a bit that's as close as you can, get a 1-1/2 or 2" grinding stone and carefully (without getting it hot enough to change color) grind the curved sides until it fits. If you look at a screw slot from the end, the sides of the slot from top to bottom are straight and parallel. You want the profile of your bit to be the same and if the bit fits a little snug, that's a plus with difficult screws. Bits that thin break easily from stout torque, so I kept a bunch of assorted spares just for resizing.

Another thought...it may be possible to order that very bit from Brownells, but they may have a minimum order. I haven't ordered from them in several years, since I don't gunsmith any more.

If the screw was rusted, or otherwise stuck, I would judiciously use many of the same methods detailed in other posts for getting them loose. You can also buy a hand-impact tool (probably at Harbor Freight) which will hold the standard 1/4" shank driver bits. Hold it in tight, and strike with a small hammer. I suspect that would be hard to do on reels though, unless they were held in a vise, or otherwise well-supported.

Not trying to be smart, but I hope I answered your question.

Bruce

Brian F.
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Re: Removing Screws, Stuck or Otherwise

Post by Brian F. »

Thanks for the advice, Bruce, and your post shows that it's important to repeat the information once in a while. Although we have a search feature for the forum, by this time there are so many individual posts that it's getting harder to wade through even good searches! But back to your point, there has been a lot of discussion covering the ground you mentioned, especially about proper fitting screwdrivers, maybe just not recently. Here's one thread from way back: viewtopic.php?t=1392 In another thread, one of our members even suggested using a Dremel tool with a wire as a mini-impact tool, like your suggestion of using an impact bit.

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Midway Tommy D
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Re: Removing Screws, Stuck or Otherwise

Post by Midway Tommy D »

Gunsmith screwdrivers, including Brownells' and a couple others, have been mentioned and recommended many times over the years:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=308&hilit=gunsmith
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2106&hilit=gunsmith
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1392&hilit=gunsmith
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5705&p=25654&hilit=gunsmith#p25637

But as Brian noted, a reminder is never a bad thing.

Tom

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