my rackmount screws are... screwed

The screws that came with my 3U rackmount box (not Eurorack M3 screws, but the 10/32 or M6 ones that come with 19" studio/server rack) were apparently cheap and awful, and some of them have stripped and I’m having trouble getting them out. Most of the advice I see online about it involves screws in wood, not in rack ears right next to pricey electronic gear :frowning:

So my two questions are:

  • does anyone have advice for neatly extracting stripped screws without damaging panels?
  • does anyone have some favorite rack screws, maybe some kind of thumbscrew type or hex socket head or something that won’t be prone to stripping?

Short of other ideas I’m going to check the hardware store tomorrow for screw extractor bits for my drill. The two that I need to remove right now are just in a ventilation plate that I’m going to replace. In the future though, I fear the screws in my actual gear are also in a bad state and might give me problems.

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Screw extractor bits are a thing. But if you need a quick hack, sometimes laying a thick rubber band across the head of the screw is enough to create engagement with your driver. Or in a pinch you could literally drill or dremel the heads off, but that risks damaging the panel.

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Ive used a Vampire tool to great effect for this task, I like them much better than drill extractor bits.

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Those look promising, thanks!

I also found that Monoprice has rack screws with a slot all the way across, which seem less prone to this trouble. …and I shouldn’t use a cordless drill to drive these screws apparently.

If everything fails you have to drill. I did it once and fucked up the panel, the rack rails and the drill. Im interested in less destructive approaches.

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Depending if it’s the head of the screw and it’s not too bad / stuck, you can try padding the screw head with tape (gaffer would be best) and use the largest driver that will fit in the gap.

I’ve also had that technique work using a rubber band.

I’ve never heard that rubber band trick. I’ll have to give that a go one of these days (though, hopefully never, ha).

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If you have a Dremel, you might try (very carefully!) using the cutoff wheel to cut a slot across the screw head. It will probably make sparks fly, so beware. Once you have the slot cut, you should be able to get a flathead screwdriver in there.

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I didn’t have any luck with a rubber band, unfortunately. Not sure if gaffer tape would work any better but it’s worth a shot I guess.

I’ll consider the Dremel as a last resort. I’m really hoping the Vampliers do the trick!

I haven’t tried the Vampliers but I do have a couple sizes of the Engineer screw removing pliers (PZ-58 & PZ-57) and they are fantastic. Hopefully you can extract the screws with a good set of screw extraction pliers. If not, get a set of left handed drill bits (CCW). There is a good chance that the screw will back itself out while drilling and if it doesn’t you are no worse off than drilling it out with a standard bit.

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Vampliers did the job. One of the screws took a little struggling and the teeth of the pliers weren’t particularly gentle to the panel finish, but it’s just some scratches on the vent panel that I’m replacing anyway, not my audio interface so that’s fine. Whew!

I also got some Monoprice rack screws that have a straight slot all the way across in addition to the Phillips head, and I’m not tightening them nearly as tightly as I did the previous screws. :smiley:

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I did the exact same thing. Bought this to fix it and never do it again.

8-1/8-in Double-Ended Screw Extractor https://www.lowes.com/pd/SpeedOut-8-1-8-in-Double-Ended-Screw-Extractor/1000170531

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