ruined a phillips screw, any inspired solution?

Not strictly audio but related and a real mess. I wanted to open up the cabinet of a cdp to change a tube inside which involved removing 6 small phillips screws with a recessed head,... and of course, there is always one that pretends to be sword Excalibur. Sadly, after I had attacked it with every imaginable screwdriver, I noticed that I had literally milled out the head. So I now have an unbudgeable screw with a perfectly round cavity on the head sitting on a rather sensitive piece of gear (the plate I have to remove holds most of the electronic circuitry, the cd drive and the tube, go figure). Anyone faced a similar conundrum and solved it?
Thanks for not laughing 8^(
You will need a drill bit about 1/2 the diameter of the head and a magnet. Taking it real slow drill through the head of the screw with the magnet very close to the head catching the chips when you get through the head it will be detached when you remove the top of the unit the body of the screw should be loose enough to remove with pliers.

Take it slow and you will be ok.
Try this:
This may be what you are after:
I have had this happen way too many times, so I bought a "Screw Out" set from Sears. Link is below. Best $10 bucks I've ever spent.
Or, if you have a Dremel tool and a steady hand.... use the cutting wheel attachment. Protect the cabinet as you will have small metal bits flying about. Cut a slot in the head of the screw and use a conventional flat head screwdriver to get the screw out. I have used this technique often when working on cars and bicycles.

I second the Sears screw extractors. They saved my butt numerous times.
Wow guys, thanks a lot, this is why I just love Audiogon!!!
If the screws are as tiny as most in the equipment we use(#4 or smaller): none of the extractors mentioned will do you any good. A hole large and deep enough to insert the tip of the extractor is required, and you won't have the material to drill in a screw of that size. If the wallowed hole that you left in the head is deep enough: that Sears set MAY work, BUT you've got to press it into the screwhead pretty heavily for it to bite. The best bet is to drill the head off(as suggested), and hopefully leave enough of the screw to grip with a pointy nosed pair of pliers. When the head is off the screw, the threads should loosen up considerably. Buy a good quality drill bit(nothing from china/taiwan, as they don't seem to know how to sharpen things like bits, blades, etc), and drill at a very slow speed. If the screws are stainless steel(check w/a magnet): get a cobalt drill bit. As the heads are recessed: If you try the Dremel idea, chances are you'll end up cutting into the top plate too. That trick works great with larger, non-countersunk stuff.
I haven't had an audio equipment screw yet that the Sears extractor hasn't worked on. shouldn't assume anything unless YOU have actually used it.
I recommend a real big hammer and a sharp chisel.
With enough very hard pounding you should be OK in no time.
Something along the lines of the Sears extractor are reverse threaded drill bits. The counter clockwise cutting force is applied. If the hole gets deep enough, use typical extractors. A lot depends on the type of metal, size of the screw and the type of head. I can see how the Sears tool would work great in general, but I have reverse threaded dills down to 1/16". Places like McMaster Carr have them.
As long as everyone is chimming in;
*Replace any other screws with new ones. Chances are they are jacked up as well.
*Clean out the holes with compresed air before reinstalling the screws.
*Don't over tighten the screws when you put them back in. That's what started this whole mess in the 1st place.
Good luck, John
I stand corrected, I was looking at the 3 piece set in one of the links. That 7 piece one looks really handy.
What I would do is the easiest thing first. I would take a pair of diagonal cutters & see if I could squeeze into the sides of the screw while turning. I've done this on audio gear but learned this trick working on vehicles.
What you're looking for is called an "EZ Out", available at any hardware store. You drill a small hole in the center of the screw, insert the ez out and screw it out in reverse.
Mofimadness - I said your suggestion, "May work", so- BITE ME!

You might get the Mofi madness disease if he bites you.

Here's a trick for the future & for the benefit of others as well; I learned this from an old pro machinist. If a stubborn screw won't loosen, then before you badly muck up the head try to TIGHTEN it just a bit first, then loosen. This has saved me I dunno how many times but doesn't always work of course.

Also there's a liquid called "Screwdriver Helper" which is applied to the head; it increases the gription somehow & this stuff actually does work. I got a tube from a boating supply house; I think it was Overtons but might have been West Marine?

The Dremel tool approach has worked for me too, as have the screw extractors. Sometimes you can grab onto the head with a pair of Vice Grip pliers (usually the mini model). Drilling through the head has also worked successfully. However drilling can be a very long process for stainless steel hardware.

To prevent a screw from seizing, you can apply a dab of LockTite to the threads before installing it. Use the blue or sometimes the green; never the red. Also there's an AntiSeize product made of copper powdered paste (from Overtons) which works great. Also you can sometimes dip the threads in a liquid gasket sealer. Sil Glyde paste from NAPA auto parts also makes a good thread coater for future easier removal. Your approach will vary according to the application of course.
Philips screws suck, especially soft zinc and stainless. . Replace the first chance you get with allen screws or Robertson (star) and you will never have a problem. Ever see a philips screw on a good tonearm or other sensitive piece of equipment?
Some good advice,some bad.I was a Harley wrench for a couple years till a shoulder went down.Lots of oils,greases etc. which is fine.Stay away from anti-seize[messy] and lock-tite[pointless].Petro-chemicals[WD-40,sewing machine oil,Vaseline etc.] are OK,but best to stick to teflon base[Tri-flow,Bel-ray etc.].They dont smell as bad and are superior for lube.Pam cooking spray[veg base] is an option as is Crisco as last resorts.When tightening screws use 2 fingers unless your units have a top-end of say 75MPH and vibrate alot in their racks.Never turn a screw or bolt without pushing in at the same time.Too much info for this thread but be gentle when tightening and use some form of lube would eliminate 95% of stripped heads on audio equipment.YMMV,Bob
I stripped badly a Phillips screw on my preamp several months ago. Then I tried a screw extractor. Now it is as you describe. I haven't had the courage to go back to it since then. (I don't want to subject the innards to the vibrations of a drill.) So, you're not alone (if anything, I messed up mine even worse!
Great info Usblues,from another old motorcycle wrench.
Nice to hear hard earned experienced speaking.
Very hard earned,the best kind aye?One of the highlights of my working class life was the Service school and wrenching at the dealerships.Great guys and what fun!Just scratched the surface really in 2 years......
Wow, Dreadhead I tried the hammer'n'chisel remedy. What can I say, it's as if I have a completely new player, clear upgrade: now a three-box system with separated psu snugly anchored in the ceiling. One smallish drawback: it is now slightly on the clanking side of neutral but that makes it the ideal player for gamalang, of course, Radio Indonesia have already approached me for modding their gear
OK call me a coward, I went to see Lothar of Tidal who has plenty of machines (even one that goes "ping") and let him do the job. It was indeed necessary to drill away the entire head of the screw. He also had to exchange the bolt as the rest of the screw was impossible to extract. Whilst we were at it, we applied new decent screws everywhere as suggested by Zenblaster.
Much as I like the cdp (we're talking about the Ancient Lektor V), I hate to admit the internal wiring didn't leave the best of all impressions. Which, sadly, goes to show that the proud statement "handmade in the EC" (the same may presumably apply to "US") is in itself not quite the hallmark of quality that we would like it to be. Or am I just too finicky?
Is it possible for an audiophile to be "just too finicky"? This is a question that may need its own thread. Or not...

As a former professional millwright, amateur mechanic (auto and motorcycle) and current computer geek who has encountered stuck and mauled fasteners of many sizes and types I see a number of good suggestions above. All of them work, but knowing which to use and when is the maddening thing. As a starting point, common sense suggests keeping the tool size relative to that of the job.

Still, my preference was always the chisel and big hammer method. Either the job got done or the offending part needed replacement. Hmmm. "Honey, I need to buy a new CDP, this one is beyond repair now..."

Cutting torches are, btw, a godsend.
Try a square wood driver bit. I messed up a phillips screw and it worked for me, just had to take it slow.
Good lord...foooooolishhhhhh! There any number of ways to effectively (and efficiently...and thoroughly) remove a "ruined" screw.
The only foolish question is the one NOT asked.
The only foolish question is the one not asked. Hevac1

Yes Confucius, that’s true. I wasn’t referring to my respected community Brethren, Karelfd, but to the genius who ground the screw head off, broke the bolt and left the broken piece in the thread hole. Did you not once say O Knowledgeable One, that “Ignorance is the night of the mind, but a night without moon and star.”
Confucius say man who goes through airport turnstyle sideways is going to Bangkok.
Actually, we tried a number of gentler and more understanding (towards the screw) options. Turned out my initial reference to Excalibur was spot on, and so we HATH to destroy the sword with extreme and utter violence and the stone that held it with it, curse their remains! In retrospect, I'm very glad the genius - which I do indeed consider him to be, just you wait till his new pre-amp hits the market - did exacly that, and substituted some of the Best Screws and Bolts in the World for the original junk. (But are they audiophile, the tweaker in us might ask, now that would make a nice little thread.)
You may have been gentle and understanding, but the poor screw knew it was doomed to meet…well, as you said yourself, extreme and utter violence. Just what do you think Nancy Pelosi would say about that? Karelfd, your friend may truly be a genius, but if he doesn’t change his tactics, he’s likely to end up before a senate committee. It may already be too late…
How many audiophiles does it take to remove a screw?
This weekend, I used a cutoff wheel on a Dremel tool to remove 2 stuck heads on a Soundcrafstmen I was modding. But you can also use a Dremel cutoff wheel to cut a new 'flat head slot' in the bad screw and remove it that way. Obviously, this has the high risk of marring the cabinet.

04-28-09: Eldartford
How many audiophiles does it take to remove a screw?

We first need to know if the screw has been previously cryo'ed. ;)
Yup,A Dremel with a cutoff wheel is just about next to a small jackhammer on a stamped sheet metal case.This is fun,any chain saw stories I wonder?No Mothers of Invention in this crew apparently but the night is young and alcohol is cheap here in the 20th Century.YMMV,cheers,Bob