Removing stripped gunnel screws?

I have a few stripped screws on my MR Explorer canoe. I tried to drill out the screw but obviously the drill bit will not line up with old screw and veers off and into the wood gunnels etc.

Anyway of removing the old screw so I can replace them?


Stripped gunwale screws
you might try removing enough adjacent screws to be able to pry the inwale and outwale apart enough to work on extracting the stripped screw.

Be careful with using a power screw driver (cordless drill) to tighten gunwale screws. It’s better to establish the final torque with a regular screw driver.

Good luck.

Sometimes you can slip a thin

– Last Updated: Jun-15-12 4:11 PM EST –

flexible putty knife between the rail and hull to engage the threads enough to get the head out far enough to grab.

If you mean that the phillips slots in the screw are stripped out, you'll need to drill it for an Easy-Out screw extractor.

Been there done that
The best way is to drill and use an Easy Out to back out the offending screw. The problem that arises is the size of the Easy Out is small, ans they are easily broken.

Been there done that as well.

When that happens I have used a Dremel tool with a carbide burr to slowly carve away the screw’s head until just the shaft remains. Then you can part the gunwale from the hull, assuming you have removed the adjacent screws. Warning: This requires patience.

I guess there is a reason why manufacturers often use square drive hardware. When I re-rail my Magic I will go that route.


Even #1 Robertsons will cam-out
especially when power-driving stainless in hardwoods, but at least you end up with a convenient roundish hole for an Easy-Out!

Channel-lock or vice grips?
Are the heads still on? If you can expose them enough to get a grip with channel-lock pliers or vice grips, you can extract the screws manually. I would try that before drilling.

If it’s still stuck…
…you can try a smaller drill bit. It won’t wander as much as a larger bit, and you can then use a large enough bit to get an Easy-Out in there. A new bit will work better than an older bit. :wink:

thanks yes
Yeah the head is below the wood gunnel…so cant reach with vice grips etc.

Never heard of an Easy-Out…will look into it.

Thanks thats the trick i think from what i get from your responses.

Appreciate it!

The trick is to drill a good hole
with a sharp new bit and carefully seat the Easy-Out. They’re hard and brittle.

There are other styles of screw extractors out there. This clip illustrates how frustrating a task it can be.

If the “easy out” doesn’t work
you can generally drill down through the the entire length of the crew. Start with a small diameter bit such as a 16th or 3/32nds. Drill slowly and carefully being careful not to drill too deep and come out the other side of the gunwale. (Marking the drill bit with a piece of tape can help you keep track of the depth.) Once this pilot hole has been completed, re-drill the screw with a bit that is the same diameter as the screw shank or slightly larger. (Determine the screw shank diameter from another gunwale screw.) During this process the head will likely come off the offending screw and form a ring around the drill bit. The rest of the screw will have been reduced to little bits of metal by the drill. Plug the hole with a piece of dowel and glue. Drill a new screw hole and install a matching, replacement screw.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe and Woodworks

Custom Canoe Paddles and Wood Strip Canoes

well …all but 1
I got all the stripped screws out with the “screw extractor” Never saw anything in the hardware store called an “easy out”…anyway…

ONe screw the head broke off…so the stem of the screw is down deep and mainly in the royalex and inwhale.

ANY suggestions on removing that one?


If the head is broken off
it shouldn’t hinder removal of the outwale. Carefully wiggle/pry the outwale off of the remaining shank. Likewise, it shouldn’t hinder removal of the inwale, other than that you also might have to wiggle/pry it out out of the Royalex. Once the inwale is off, you should be able grab the remaining shank with a vise grip and unscrew it.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe and Woodworks

Custom Canoe Paddles and Wood Strip Canoes

thanks yes
yeah that sounds like it will work…i just need patience now