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Old 07-22-2011, 04:12 PM   #1
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Cut Off Stripped or Broken Screws


We are in the process of rebuilding our deck. Basically, we are just going to replace the deck boards with wider and newer ones.

One thing I need help and I am sure the experts here on DIYChatroom are able to provide their insights.
- We removed as many screws as possible and then pulled up the deck boards. However, some screws have been stripped badly. Even though the boards have been pulled up (carefully), they are still stuck in the support beams below. We have decided to resort to just cut off the screws, especially those that have been broken and the heads are not even there.

Question: What is the best way to cut off the screws so they are flush with the support beams? We are thinking about using a reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade. Does that work? I am not totally skilled and this is my first deck rebuilding, so the easiest and safest way is important. I have used reciprocating saw in the past - not my favorite tool but it's alright. Are there any other easy method to do it nicely and cleanly?

Thank you for your suggestion and sharing your experience!


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Old 07-22-2011, 04:20 PM   #2
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Cut Off Stripped or Broken Screws


I use a grinder with a metal cut-off wheel. With eye protection of course and an eye on the hot sparks if you have dry leaves and things around. It is faster than a reciprocating saw but that will work too. I have a fairly industrial strength Bosch grinder of a vintage with metal parts but I used mine all the time. I should think something in the Ryobi class for $50 or under would suit your needs? I did not have mine on hand recently and client had a Ryobi. It seemed well balanced but did heat up a bit. Worked fine for a purpose matching yours. Cutting disc is going to cost you a few bucks max. A grinder is one of those tools I would not yet trust in corless form.



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Old 07-22-2011, 05:02 PM   #3
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Cut Off Stripped or Broken Screws


I have the 18 volt Dewalt grinder. We use it more than we use the corded ones. I would have never thought that would be the case either.
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Old 07-22-2011, 05:17 PM   #4
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Cut Off Stripped or Broken Screws


Have you tried bending them back and forth. Screws usually snap right off.

Hoof clippers work great too.
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Old 07-22-2011, 07:31 PM   #5
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Cut Off Stripped or Broken Screws


Thanks for the ideas. The hoof clippers idea sounds neat except it is not easy to find one in my area .

I will try the grinder and report back. Thanks again!
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Old 07-22-2011, 07:40 PM   #6
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Cut Off Stripped or Broken Screws


IF there is any screw body sticking up, at least enough to clamp a pair of vise-grips held vertically, not lying down, try this: Soak the immediate area around the screw with white vinegar the day before wanting to remove these screws. The hold the vise-grips vertically, clamp them onto the screw really tight, and apply pressure to remove the screw body. DO NOT attempt to just unscrew the screw body, it will have to slowly started and then it will come right out. Now IF the screws are broken off clean with the decking support board, that's another story. One for the grinder to take care of and the new screw entered off to the side just a bit. Try it, I've used it and it works.
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Old 07-22-2011, 07:41 PM   #7
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Cut Off Stripped or Broken Screws


Don't overlook Ron's first suggestion. Hold your hammer with a medium grip, slap the screw one way, follow through, slap it the other way on the back stroke, and, depending on how long they've been there, they'll snap right off. Then try one step further, follow through on the back stoke, hit the butt of the broken off screw with the head of the hammer, and you've broken the screw off and flattened it, all in one melodical stroke. You'll know after a half dozen or so if you even need anything else.
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Old 07-22-2011, 08:04 PM   #8
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Cut Off Stripped or Broken Screws


Quote:
Originally Posted by DexterII View Post
Don't overlook Ron's first suggestion. Hold your hammer with a medium grip, slap the screw one way, follow through, slap it the other way on the back stroke, and, depending on how long they've been there, they'll snap right off. Then try one step further, follow through on the back stoke, hit the butt of the broken off screw with the head of the hammer, and you've broken the screw off and flattened it, all in one melodical stroke. You'll know after a half dozen or so if you even need anything else.
Then grind them off because they never break flush or below the surface. Ever!

Just a bit above is acceptable to some I guess but you said you were going to put new lumber on top and you wanted the dead screw suckers level with your framing structure? Just what you need is still broken off screws in your way but now sticking up 1/8 or 1/16th of inch or something? Enough to snag placing your new deck lumber? I guess broken off you could try wacking them to the surface or below with a hammer.

Hours vs. minutes if it works. My clients will not pay me for solutions that take so long. And they would just shake their heads with me out bending dead screws back and forth with a hammer or vice grips and wondering why they still were above the surface when I was done? And hoping what was left was straight enough to pound in?

What nonsense. You will be done grinding the deck screws level before you read four of the reactionary messages to this post.

- Steven
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Old 07-22-2011, 08:18 PM   #9
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Cut Off Stripped or Broken Screws


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Thanks for the ideas. The hoof clippers idea sounds neat except it is not easy to find one in my area .

I will try the grinder and report back. Thanks again!
You can buy them at any hardware store.

Almost a week never goes by that I don’t use them for something and never once was it for clipping a hoof.

It’s about the only tool that will effortlessly pull about any nail, head or not if you can get a bite on it.
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Old 07-22-2011, 11:10 PM   #10
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Cut Off Stripped or Broken Screws


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Then grind them off because they never break flush or below the surface. Ever!

Just a bit above is acceptable to some I guess but you said you were going to put new lumber on top and you wanted the dead screw suckers level with your framing structure? Just what you need is still broken off screws in your way but now sticking up 1/8 or 1/16th of inch or something? Enough to snag placing your new deck lumber? I guess broken off you could try wacking them to the surface or below with a hammer.

Hours vs. minutes if it works. My clients will not pay me for solutions that take so long. And they would just shake their heads with me out bending dead screws back and forth with a hammer or vice grips and wondering why they still were above the surface when I was done? And hoping what was left was straight enough to pound in?

What nonsense. You will be done grinding the deck screws level before you read four of the reactionary messages to this post.

- Steven
It always worked for me, most time they will snap below the surface on the first hit as the deck screws down this way are brittle and do no bend. Another thought on the screws bending, how many times have you seen a real rusty nail or screw bend, it will break even if it wasn't tempered when new. A reciprocating saw wouldn't work on the tempered deck screws that I used. A grinder will work good also but it is faster to break the screws off.
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Old 07-22-2011, 11:58 PM   #11
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Cut Off Stripped or Broken Screws


OP asked for the easiest and “Safest” method.

A grinder can be a dangerous tool. We’re not talking about go fast piece work here, just a way to make a few screws go away.

I certainly wouldn’t advise someone to go out and buy a grinder just for that.
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Old 07-23-2011, 02:55 AM   #12
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Cut Off Stripped or Broken Screws


Thanks for all the discussion - I owe everyone a report on how it went.

So, I went to Lowe's and bought a <$30 simple and small grinder (really) and 2 metal cutoff wheels for $2 a piece. The instructions in the manual for the grinder sucks big time. Extremely unclear. Anyway, I "think" I figured out how to put the wheel on successfully. This is the one I got (http://www.lowes.com/pd_296496-353-9...der&facetInfo=)

Went to the deck, and tested it on the first screw. Sparks flew like crazy (thankfully had my safety goggles on). I realized I shouldn't be wearing a t-shirt. Got my jacket, mask, and a hood to cover my entire body, and re-tried. It worked beautifully! There were far more sparks than anticipated. I was able to cut the first screw completely flush to the support beam without any visible cuts on the beams. That was nice.

Repeated the process on the next 3 screws. All went well.

This was really a "proof of concept" run to make sure I could do it. I will try to get the rest of broken screws cut off tomorrow (Sat). There are about 12 or so left.

I did notice something though - how am I supposed to know which wheel to get? I got two 4.5" DeWALT wheels that are designed to cut metal, but the instruction specifically says "not recommended for type 1, 1a, 27a". One of the cutoff wheels I got was Type 1, so I didn't use that one. The other one is of type 27 (not in the not-recommended list), so I used it and obviously worked. Any insight into what the types are would be helpful for future knowledge.

Thanks again. I will report back again tomorrow (Sat).

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Old 07-23-2011, 06:54 AM   #13
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Cut Off Stripped or Broken Screws


16 screws? 35$ worth of tooling for 16 screws?
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Old 07-23-2011, 08:03 AM   #14
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16 screws? 35$ worth of tooling for 16 screws?
A new tool is a new tool.
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Old 07-23-2011, 08:20 AM   #15
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A grinder is a tool that has many uses. Not like he spent $35 and destroyed it.

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