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Removing Square-Headed Screws

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My house came complete with a very large handicapped ramp for one of the previous residents. The frame is old splitting PT but the deck is all trex. And theres a TON of decking, so I want to save all the decking for future shenanigans.

Unfortunately for me, all of the decking is held together with those pain in the ass square headed screws. Not only are they square headed, but their threading is at two different rates, so they really wedge in and do not want to come out.

So I have the S2 bits for them that I can use with a power drill or with my giant sized socket wrench. I even ground the tip a little so its totally flat, so it could really get in there and grab the screw. And I also use a small nail to scrape the dirt out of each screw. But it's still really difficult to remove these things. Each deck board has 10 screws each, and there seems to be at least one that strips or gets stuck in every board.

I really want to save all of these boards though, so I don't want to just chop the whole thing up. Any tips?

Here's a pic. These ones happen to look particularly clean and properly-sunk. Most are dirtier, beat up a little more and sunk deeper than they should be into the wood.
http://i.imgur.com/zBpAP3T.jpg
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Most of the railing was held together with these square headed screws too, but some of hte railings used torx bits, t15 i think. Those were perfect, every one came right out, no slipping, stripping, or problems of any kind. Shame they didn't build the whole thing with those.
 

· Mad Scientist
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Get a supply of impact rated S2 bits and an impact driver. The tricky part, as you discovered, is clearing the crud out of the screw heads first. But you'll find that with a cordless impact driver it is much easier to remove or install screws without stripping them.
 

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Another trick is once the screw heads cleaned out give the bit a tap with a hammer to set it in place, then try to remove it.
By far the tool that I use most is my impact driver.
It can drill without the bit slipping in a chuck, drives sockets with an adaptor, removes rusty screws.
I even use it when doing drywall.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So I finally got an impact driver and it DOES work a lot better than a regular drill, when it comes to removing these things. But I do still have one problem. DO they make better bits? One slip from a bent screw and the S2 bit becomes completely mangled. It ends up looking more like an octagon than a square. I know with impact wrenches for automotive use, they have special sockets for them that work better than traditional metals. Is that the same for driver bits?

Also, I love how all the bits are hex shaped and they just snap in without the need to screw the drill right and use friction. Why don't' they make all regular drills / drill bits with connections like this. It is so much better.
 

· World's Tallest Midget
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Also, I love how all the bits are hex shaped and they just snap in without the need to screw the drill right and use friction. Why don't' they make all regular drills / drill bits with connections like this. It is so much better.
Sometimes you want the drill bit to spin. Imagine you're drilling a large diameter hole in metal, and in drill mode there's no clutch. Want to know what happens when it catches? Your wrist hurts, that's what.

What kind of bits are you using? I thought bits didn't matter until I got a tool with a bit more horsepower, now its essential. The internet is full of people griping about DeWalt's bits, and I'm on the fence with Milwaukee's Shockwave bits (they're alright, but the phillips bits don't do much for me). Haven't tried Bosch, but their jigsaw blades are good.
 

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They sell 'em in the big box stores. They are labeled "Impact ready".

I still have some with soft shoulders, mainly because I don't always get the drill bit lined up with the pocket screw and it spins out. After a while, it is not so easy to use and I replace it.
 

· Usually Confused
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Surprised to see Robertson-head screws in the States. They are less prone to cam-out and are easier to one-hand in tight situations, but, yes, they do crud up in horizontal outdoor settings. Make sure your tool/bit is in-line with the screw.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I used my impact driver today to start taking the structure down. I got through maybe 10 pieces of decking (10 screws each) and then I started taking that piece of structure down which was nailed. So that was just prying with a pry bar.

So between each slat (that had 10 screws), I would stop and put the driver down while i cleaned out the 10 screw heads in the next piece. Despite this break I gave it, I still managed to get the driver so hot that it started smoking. Am I doing something wrong? Or is there a problem with this driver? It's a porter cable corded impact driver and it was brand new, this was its first real use.
 

· World's Tallest Midget
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I'd say you waited too long to give it a break, but I dunno. My impact driver has a computer in it that will shut the tool down if it's been worked too hard, and I've never had that happen.
 
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