HOW TO REMOVE A RUSTED OR FROZEN SCREW
If a rusted screw has ever brought your boat project to a grinding halt, you’re going to love this little trick for removing a frozen screw. We learned this technique from Paul Hrabowski at Ocean Rigging & Hydraulics when he was helping us rig our 35-foot sailboat for bluewater cruising. We’ve used this method countless times and found it particularly helpful for rebedding hatches.
MATERIALS YOU’LL NEED
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- Wire brush
- PB Blaster (optional)
- Micro-jet torch (optional)
- Crescent wrench
- A LONG HANDLED SQUARE SHAFT slotted screwdriver. Note, it is very important that the screwdriver have a long handle and a square or hexagonal shaft.
- Hammer (optional)
- Paper towel
HOW TO REMOVE A FROZEN SCREW
1. Wire brush any flaking rust
If you’re dealing with a lot of rust, quickly wire brush the head of the screw so that you can clearly see the slot.
2. Spray-on a penetrating oil or apply heat
A penetrating oil works by chemically breaking down the rust bond. There are several products on the market including WD-40, CRC 5-56, and PB Blaster. We’ve always had luck with PB Blaster. Protect surrounding materials by wiping up any excess spray with paper towel. Wait 15-30 minutes for the chemical reaction to occur.
Another option is to carefully heat the screw with a micro-jet torch. Applying heat can cause the screw to expand sufficiently to break the rust bond. Before attempting this, wipe away penetrating oil.
3. Carefully seat screwdriver in slot
Position screwdriver in slot. You may wish to give it a little tap with the hammer to ensure it is properly seated and reduce the chances of stripping the screw head. Tapping may also help break up some of the corrosion.
4. THE SECRET TO REMOVING A RUSTED SCREW
Here’s where the MAGIC happens! Clamp your crescent wrench onto the square shaft of the screwdriver (Note: you must have a square or hexagonal shafted screwdriver for this to work). Place your shoulder on the butt of the screw driver handle and rest your body-weight vertically down on the screwdriver (this will keep the screwdriver seated in the slot so that it doesn’t strip the head). Use the wrench to turn the screwdriver counter clock-wise (lefty-loosy).
5. Remove the screw
At this point the rust bond should break. Once you complete the first turn the screw should begin to come out more easily. You’re done!
Do you know other great tips and tricks for working on a boat? Let us know in the comments below.
Fiona McGlynn is an award-winning boating writer who created Waterborne as a place to learn about living aboard and traveling the world by sailboat. She has written for boating magazines including BoatUS, SAIL, Cruising World, and Good Old Boat. She’s also a contributing editor at Good Old Boat and BoatUS Magazine. In 2017, Fiona and her husband completed a 3-year, 13,000-mile voyage from Vancouver to Mexico to Australia on their 35-foot sailboat.