If you’ve ever worked with tools before, then no doubt you’ve encountered the frustration of a stripped or broken bolt that will simply not come loose. It’s a complication that can threaten to derail an entire project.
For bolts that are just stuck, you can usually get them loose after a while one way or another. Sometimes it just takes a little more elbow grease. Sometimes a spray of industrial lubricant can get things moving again. With stripped or broken bolts, however, those methods alone will not do the trick.
When you’re stuck on a project because the bolt is broken and won’t come out, the good news is that there are still things you can do. If you’re looking for a solid, reliable method to remove broken bolts, then look no further. The following steps are a sure-fire way to remove a broken bolt, even when it’s stuck in aluminum.
Tools & Materials
The first thing you need to do is gather all of the materials you’re going to use for this procedure. First, get a center punch. This tool is basically a pointed cylinder that is designed to punch a shallow hole or indentation into a piece of metal.
Then, grab a hammer (to hit the center punch) and a variable-speed reversible electric drill. Next, you’ll need a left-handed drill bit. No, these drill bits aren’t made for left-handers or anything like that. Instead, these are bits that are threaded in the opposite direction of a normal drill bit. So, instead of “lefty loosey, righty tighty,” these bits actually tighten when they go to the left.
Finally, you’re going to round out your tools with an extraction drill bits kit, a magnet and some compressed air.
How To Remove a Broken Bolt
Once you’ve gathered your materials, it’s time to start. Begin by placing the center punch right on the top of the middle of your broken bolt and hammering it in. Give it several whacks until the center punch has made a divot deep enough to allow your drill bit to gain purchase and grab.
Now, take your drill and use the left-handed drill bit to create a pilot hole. You’re going to want to take this slow: go too fast and you can end up creating more problems by going off-center or wrecking your bolt even further.
Once your pilot hole is drilled, switch the left-handed drill bit to an extraction bit. This will grab into the pilot hole. Once it’s in, reverse-drill slowly. The extraction bit should grab into the bolt and turn it to the left, loosening it and bringing it out.
Finally, once the bolt is removed, clean up the area by using the magnet to remove any metal shavings. Blow off the area with compressed air.
Tips On How To Remove A Broken Bolt
Like any job, the most important tip is to make sure you have the right tools for the job. Make sure your drill bits and center punch are high quality, machine-grade that are hard enough to dig into the bolt. If they are too soft, they’ll simply smash in on the surface and bend out of shape.
In addition, make sure your center punch is directly centered on the bolt, going straight in,. If it is off-center or tilted, it can lead to a situation where the drill and extractor bits aren’t able to work properly, and can either get damaged in the process or end up wedging the broken bolt even tighter into the hole.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a machine shop remove broken bolts?
If you don’t have the proper tools, or if you’re not sure that you can do follow this correctly, the good news is that it’s a relatively simple procedure that can be done at most local shops. Just make sure to call in advance to make sure the shop you’re looking at will do this type of job. Just because they can, doesn’t mean that they will.
How do you remove a broken bolt without an extractor?
If you are unable to use extraction drill bits, there are still ways to do this, although they involve a little more creativity and innovation. Those with welding skills have been known to weld a makeshift handle onto the top of the bolt, giving them leverage and grip to unscrew it. Others have cut through the bolt and used a screwdriver to begin the extraction process.
As you can see, removing a broken bolt is not hard, as long as you have the right tools. Even a relatively inexperienced newbie should be able to follow these steps and get the right results!