How to Cut a Screw

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One of the most common and helpful tools that you use around your home are screws. There isn’t a single house in the country that doesn’t have a few screws in some incredibly important places. They are pivotal to keeping a house together.

There are times when screws just get in the way though. There will inevitably come a time when you need to cut a screw because it has become impaired. Cutting a screw may seem complicated or hard because they are made from such strong materials that many assume are impenetrable.

Why you Need to Cut a Screw

There are multiple reasons why you need to cut a screw. While all screws start with the best of intentions and are almost always helpful, they often become nothing more than a nuisance because of multiple reasons.

The Screw is Bent

When a screw gets bent it becomes completely unusable and worthless. A bent screw cannot be used to hang stuff on nor can it be used to keep shelving steady or safe.

Using a rotary tool to cut a new slot in a wood screw

A bent screw is also painfully hard to withdraw from a wall and can often cause damage to a wall if you try to pull it out. There are times when you should just cut your losses and cut the screw instead of attempting to withdraw it.

The Screw is Stripped

A screw is stripped when the narrow slots in the head of the screw have been dulled. When this happens, a screwdriver will not be able to find a grip on the screw, meaning that it cannot be inserted or withdrawn anymore.

When this occurs, the screw is totally worthless and should really be thrown away. However, it is incredibly hard to extract a stripped screw.

If a screw in your wall gets bent or stripped, it is time to get rid of it by any means necessary. Sometimes the smartest approach is just cutting the screw. This will keep the body of the screw in the wall but it will make it flush with the surface and essentially hidden away.

This means it will not do any damage to your walling and will not cause any problems in the future. However, when you are cutting the screw you need to ensure that you cut it as close to the wall as possible, otherwise you could create a piece of metal that could easily snag clothing or create a cosmetic nightmare for your home.

The Screw is Deeply Inserted

The whole point of installing a screw in a wall is to make sure it is secure so it is no surprise that sometimes they may be too deeply inserted into a wall and incapable of being removed. That is one of the most common reasons why cutting a screw is needed.

You simply cannot pull a deeply installed screw from a wall sometimes. Attempting to do so will only end with a banged up and chipped wall. It is usually much easier and smarter to just cut the screw if its base is deeply locked into the surface.

What You Need to Cut a Screw

There are multiple ways to cut a screw from your wall. Depending on which approach you take, you will need various tools. Here are just some of the items you might need when you are cutting down a screw.

  • Bolt cutters: Bolt cutters are a strong, easy, effective way to cut a screw. As you can imagine, it requires the least amount of work and, depending on the strength of the bolt cutters, often takes only a few seconds.
  • Hand saw: A hand saw takes a bit more physical work but you can quickly cut the end of a screw off by applying a hand saw and using it properly.
  • Wire cutters: Wire cutters are used for the snipping method of cutting a screw. This is another easy approach to the process and should not take much time. As well, many of the wire cutters on the market are created with the idea of cutting a screw in mind so most that you find at your local store should be able to get the job done.

How to Cut a Screw with Wire Cutters

The first method to cutting a screw uses sharp and effective wire cutters, which you can find at your local hardware store for a relatively affordable price. Wire cutters are a tool that every household should own because they come in handy for multiple causes.

Opt for Anvil Cutters

It is important that when you purchase your wire cutters, you buy the type known as “anvil cutters.” They are specifically made to handle a task like this. The best aspect of anvil cutters is that the blades on the device are beveled and come into contact with each other after each cut.

Many other types of cutters have blades that bypass each other. This does not allow for a firmer grip and easier extraction or cutting.

Opt for Long Handles

You should also make sure you buy a pair of wire cutters hat have longer handles because the longer the handles, the easier it is to apply pressure and use.

Make Your Cuts

Like all other methods, the act of cutting a screw with wire cutters couldn’t be simpler. All you need to do is line up the cutters with the portion of the screw that needs to be cut and snip right through it.

Depending on the width and strength of the screw, cutting through may take multiple attempts. But in just a short amount of time, the job will be done.

How to Cut a Screw with a Hand Saw

There are multiple types of saws you can use to cut a screw, from a hacksaw to a jigsaw and more. The best thing about this is that, no matter which one you choose to employ, the process remains straightforward and similar. As you can imagine, all you will need to do is line up the saw with the screw and begin to saw.

Pocket hole screws
  • It is important that you try to level the saw as close to the wall as possible when you start sawing. This will ensure that you remove as much of the screw as possible during the very first attempt.
  • Once you have properly lined up the saw and the base of the screw, you should attempt to cut through the screw with a circular movement, cutting in the same direction and moving your arms in the same motion until the cut is complete.

If you are using a saw to cut through a screw, be certain that you are using a metal-cutting blade with the saw. Without this, the saw will likely not be strong enough to cut through the screw, or the resilience of the screw’s construction may damage the saw.

How to Cut a Screw with Bolt Cutters

Some people cannot tell the difference between wire cutters and bolt cutters and think they are one-in-the-same. In reality, there is a difference between bolt and wire cutters.

Essentially, bolt cutters are strong, thicker, beefier versions of wire cutters. That means that they can achieve most things that wire cutters can, including cutting through a nagging screws that need snipping.

In fact, bolt cutters are the right option to choose if you are attempting to cut through tough materials like industrial screw heads that traditional wire cutters might have trouble with.

Bolt cutters also usually come with longer handles and that is always an important aspect to making cutting easier. The longer handles provide more power when applying force and makes the entire process easier and faster.

As with the wire cutters, the procedure for cutting through a screw with bolt cutters is straightforward.

  • Line up the bolt cutter with the base with the problem screw.
  • From there, apply as much pressure as possible to slice off the screw and leave it flush with the wall.
  • With just a few simple snaps, the screw should soon be completely hidden in the wall and unexposed to others.

Summary

Screws always start as helpful and essential parts of home decor and keeping things in order at your house. Overtime, they may run into problems and end up being stripped, bent, or unruly. When that happens, there are often no other options but to remove them.

Some people attempt to withdraw or unscrew a screw using a typical driver but that may not be possible if the screw is badly stripped or damaged.

Cutting a screw is the best way to get rid of the problem object and also allows the least amount of harm to the wall. If you attempt to expel a screw and don’t do it properly, you could end up causing real destruction to your home. But by simply using a hand saw, bolt cutters or wire cutters, you can easily snip off the problem screw and leave your wall looking better than ever.

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.