Bloody Broken Brass Screw - how to fix?


    I'm installing some small brass catches with 4x1/2 brass screws. I had a few, installed them, and ran out of screws. Went out and got some more and the first two broke off in the holes :(     One is below the surface, one sticks out just enough to catch your finger on its sharp edge. To add to the problem, the wood is already finished (oil and shellac), so whatever I do I would like to do with as little damage as possible.     I tried to drill out the one that sticks out but the bit just slipped off the screw. Any other suggestions?
    TIA - Chuck
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Thursday 12 May 2005 06:02 pm:

Can you drill them out from the back?
Bill
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    Reeealy don't want to. That's the front of the cabinet. I can repair the other side and it only shows when the lid is down. The front is in good shape (curly grain and all).
    -- Chuck
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With the very tiniest of Dremel bits you can "dig out" the offending screw (both of the ones you mentioned, actually). Then drill out the area with a 1/8th or 3/16th drill and glue in a dowel of the approaipiate size. Redrill for the brass screw. DAMHIKT. Works llike a charm... twice on the same hole, even.
Don Sforza

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And next time, run in a steel screw to cut the threads, remove it, and then put in the waxed brass screw. DAMHIKT2
Patriarch
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On Thu, 12 May 2005 18:14:10 -0500, Patriarch

    I know, I know :( When the first screws went into the pilot holes without breaking, I figured I was home free. My bad.
    -- Chuck
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On Thu, 12 May 2005 22:19:58 GMT, "Don Sforza"

    How tiny, and is there a special technique? I used a 3/32 bit in a drill press and it just wouldn't stay on the brass.
Then drill out the area with a

         I've done this before, but on much larger screws and holes.
    -- Chuck
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You have to do it "by hand", holding the dremel. You have to rout all around the screw, like you were digging out a post hole. The tool is a tiny ball mill... like you would use to engrave a piece of wood. I don't have the number, but its about the size of a #50 drill bit.
Don
wrote:

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There are drills like this: http://www.rockler.com/ecom7/product_details.cfm?offerings_id#54 or you can try to make a similar thing out of a piece of tubing. Then plug the hole with a dowel, and drill the pilot hole again. This time - and every time when using brass screws, thread a steel screw in the hole first to cut the threads in the wood, then install the brass screw.
--
JeffB
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This is the best suggestion on the thread. I've used these myself for years and they work great. They're hardened steel and last quite a while. If you don't want to drill over the screw shank full-length, just go down a quarter-inch or so, grab the shank of the screw with needle-nose pliers and twist it out. After you have the screw out, and if you've centered the drill over the broken-off screw pretty well, the hole ends up well-sized to take a plug. Glue in a plug, re-drill it, and use some lubricant on the next screw you put in there. Brass is very soft. McFeely sells something they call Ackempucky for lubricating screws and it got good reviews in the mags such as American Woodworker. The old timers just used soap.
Tom Dacon

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The plug should be cut flat grain rather that an end grain dowel. End grain doesn't hold screws or nails very well. robo hippy
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I have found plain old dowels to work just fine. In fact, unless the flat grain plug was really big, I would be concerned that the screw would cause it to break up.
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<<I have found plain old dowels to work just fine. In fact, unless the flat grain plug was really big, I would be concerned that the screw would cause it to break up. >>
So do golf tees if the hole is the right size.
Lee
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[...snip...]
The old timers just used soap.
Maybe OK for brass, but soap draws moisture. I use toilet bowl wax rings as a lubricant. Ackempucky is better, but expensive.
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JeffB wrote:

Or here: http://woodcraft.com/family.aspx?familyid 3
JES
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Chuck wrote:

Besides all the other options you've already been given, there's one that hasn't been mentioned. Using a small file or a Dremel cutoff wheel, you can deepen the screw slot. The problem with this method of course is that if the screw is recessed, you'll risk damage to the surrounding surfaces.
For the future, definitely use a steel screw first, and I would advise "lubing" the screws with paraffin.
Chuck Vance (who has BTDT)
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Another future option is to use a machine screw. Drill, tap, and install. It will actually hold better than wood screws and much less chance of breakage. Cheers, cc

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    Thanks to all who responded. I got the Rockler screw extractor and it made a hole around the screw, although it didn't remove it. I used a pick and a needle-nose plier to extract the screw. I have to say the extractor drilled a very good hole and since I could only leave a bare 1/8" between the hole and the edge of the board, it had to be a good hole with no drill wobble.     Now to plug, redrill, refinish, use a non-brass screw to set the threads, and lubricate a real brass screw as the very last step.
    -- Chuck
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