how to cut screws with pliers

How To Cut Screws With Pliers: A Step-By-Step Guide


When I was a poor kid, I loved to tinker but was always at the mercy of my dad’s limited toolbox, so as I lacked a decent variety of stuff, quite often I found myself trying to use tools for projects other than their intended purpose. One of those such unique uses was cutting screws with pliers. Recently I gathered some info about it to come up with a step-by-step guide.

How can you cut screws with pliers? In order to cut into a screw with a pair of pliers, all you will need to do is determine where you would like to make the cut and get a firm grip on the area within the mouth of the pliers.

From there, you will need to apply force to the body of the screw and use a slight back and forth motion until you are able to wiggle the piece of the screw that you want to remove away from the surface.

The task of cutting through a metal screw might seem nearly impossible since they are known to be made of solid and durable metal. Even though screws are made to hold up in critical situations, it is possible to cut through them. However, most people would be surprised to learn that this actually can be done through a relatively simple process.

All you will need for this task is a strong pair of metal pliers and the screw in question to get the job done. Keep reading for a comprehensive step-by-step guide on how you can use your household pliers to cut through the center of a metal screw.

Cutting Metal Screws With Pliers

Before we get into the step-by-step guide on how you can cut into a metal screw using just a pair of pliers, this section will go over some of the reasons why you might find yourself needing to cut into a screw.

Why Screws Would Need To Be Cut:

  • Longer screws being cut to create shorter ones
  • Removing a screw that is bent inside of a surface

The first common scenario that you might find yourself in when it comes to using metal screws for a project is that the one that you have is too long for what you need it for. Frequent DIY-ers and hobbyists can all relate to the dilemma of wanting to jump into a project but not having the correct materials to do so.

Instead of jumping in the car and heading to the hardware store or waiting for new parts to arrive all together, you can make the decision to cut the screw, or screws, that you already have and simply make them work for your current project.

The only thing you will need to alter the metal screw is a simple pair of pliers, which you will probably already have in your toolbox if you ever encounter the need to cut into a screw for any reason.

The second scenario that might prompt you to try to cut into a metal screw is removing one that has been installed incorrectly. This can happen when the screw is inserted crookedly and there is no way to drive it into the surface in a straight line, or it was installed correctly but it somehow got bent along the way.

In either of these situations, the screw will not be able to be corrected, and must then be removed as a result.

Some other traditional methods of cutting and removing screws use a saw, jigsaw or metal cutting blade, a reciprocating saw, or a pair of bolt cutters, but the use of a strong pair of metal pliers will provide faster, easier, and safer results.

Whether you are already in the middle of one of these problems and consulted this article to get some quick and easy answers, or you are trying to prepare yourself for the future, you will be able to use the helpful information you find here to your advantage either way.

How To Cut Screws To Remove Them From A Surface: Step-By-Step

Cutting screws with a pair of pliers can be helpful when you have accidentally placed a screw in the wrong position and you can no longer adjust it into the correct spot in the surface.

This method, however, will most likely not leave your screw intact when you are finished, so if you are trying to take it out and use it for something else, you will be out of luck. The process for removing a screw that will be outlined in this section generally applies to crooked and jammed up screws.

In a normal circumstance where the head of the screw is intact, you would be able to use a screwdriver to get the screw out in one piece. In case you don’t have access to one of these tools, you can use a butter knife, a coin, or a credit card to twist it out of place.

Otherwise, if the screw is bent or the head has been removed, you can find a solution with this method. The steps outlined below provide a detailed process for those who are looking to cut a screw for removal with a pair of pliers.

How To Cut Screws To Remove Them From a Surface:

  1. Cut the head of the screw (if it is still there)
  2. Use a firm grip and side to side motion to remove it
  3. Try to pull out any additional pieces of the screw
  4. Use the pliers again to make any additional cuts as needed until it is removed

To begin, you will need to assess the screw that you are trying to remove by cutting. If it still has a head on the top of it, you will secure it between the mouth of the pliers and use the back and forth motion while applying pressure to wiggle it out of place.

Once this is done, the head of the screw will be completely removed from the body, with some of the other end possibly emerging from the area you just cut.

In the case that the screw already does not have a head, which might be the reason why you are trying to cut it out in the first place, you will repeat the same steps, only with the area of the body of the screw that you are able to get a hold of with the mouth of the pliers.

During this entire process, you will try to pull out any additional pieces of the screw that you are able to grab, either with your hand or with the mouth of the pliers again. Make any additional cuts around the screw as needed before you are able to completely remove it from the surface that it is stuck to.

Depending on how many times you had to attempt to cut it out, the result of this process will be several pieces of metal from the screw that you chopped up.

How To Cut Longer Screws Into Smaller Screws: Step-By-Step

If you find yourself in the middle of a project where you are about to add the finishing touches by inserting a screw, but you find that the one you have is much too large for where you need to place it, this easy guide will help you to quickly find a solution.

In this section, we will be going over how you can cut metal screws with pliers for the specific reason of making smaller screws. Since this purpose will require you to keep the screw in tact instead of just trying to get it out of its respective position, these steps are slightly more careful than the process that was outlined in the above section.

How To Cut Longer Screws Into Smaller Screws:

1. Drill an empty hole into the surface where you plan to apply the screw

2. Twist the screw into the hole (with your hand or a handheld screwdriver)

3. Make sure that the screw is all the way into the surface

4. Look for the point of the screw on the other side (and assess the actual size)

5. Mark or hold the correct point where you need to cut on the screw

6. Keep the screw in position and begin to cut with the pliers on the designated mark

7. Use a slight twisting motion to wiggle the extra piece off of the screw

In order to cut a longer screw into a smaller screw for a specific project, there is a very simple way to ensure that you reduce it to the correct size instead of cutting too much or leaving it too long.

To begin, you will drill an empty hole into the surface where you plan to apply the screw. This can be done with any power drill within just a few seconds, and you will come out with a space where your screw can be inserted.

To be able to correctly measure what needs to be cut, you will need to twist the screw into the hole gently. This should be done using your fingers or a handheld screwdriver. During this step, you must make sure that the screw is inserted as straight as possible and the head is all the way down onto the surface to avoid any mistakes.

When this has been completed, you will move to the other side of the surface to look for the end point of the screw. If there is anything sticking out, this is the area that will need to be cut.

If it will help you to get a correct reference point, you can mark this area with a small pencil, or you can just keep holding the screw and use your eyeball to find the right measurement.

The main idea to consider before making the actual cut is that the point of the screw that you see on the opposite end should no longer be there. After a successful cut, you will see no extra metal material on the back of the surface like you did before.

After you have inserted the screw and made all of the necessary measurements, the actual cutting part will be relatively easy to do. The mouth of your pliers should cover the line that you created after measuring the extra part of the back of the screw.

Firmly clamp the mouth down onto this point of the screw and apply a significant amount of force to begin to separate the metal. You will then proceed to wiggle the pliers in a slight back and forth motion until you have driven the teeth into the material enough for it to separate.

The job will be complete when the end of the screw falls off and the rest of it is still intact inside of the surface. These steps will be ideal for someone who is in the middle of a project and needs a quick adjustment.

However, if you are just trying to cut a screw down to a specific measurement for a future project or the surface you are drilling into will not permit you to see through to the other side and make the cut while it is inserted, you can make the necessary measurements and follow the same steps to cut the screw with your pliers.

The Best Types Of Pliers To Cut Screws

Now that you have learned all of the different methods that you can use to cut into a metal screw with a pari of pliers, whether you are trying to carefully reduce the size or just get rid of it all together, you might be wondering what kind of pliers you should have access to.

While using pliers to cut into a metal screw, it is important that you are using the best possible kind of tool for the cleanest and safest results. The list down below will give you an idea of the characteristic of a great pair of pliers, at least the ones that you will be using to cut into a screw.

Ideal Pliers For Cutting Screws:

  • Beveled blades in the opening
  • Look for “anvil cutters”
  • Longest handle possible

There is not a single pair of pliers that you should be using to cut into a metal screw, but there are a list of qualifications that your pliers should meet to be cut out for the job.

First of all, the pliers that you use should have beveled blades in the opening. This means that the blades will meet after the cut has been complete.

Beveled blades are different from the average pair of pliers, because other types of blades will move past each other after you make the cut. The action of the blades meeting each other will make for a much sharper and more precise cut, which is especially important when you are cutting through solid and durable metal.

If you are having a hard time finding a good and sturdy pair of pliers with beveled blades, you can instead look for something called an anvil cutter. These types of pliers have exactly the kind of blades that you will need in order to complete this task.

The last characteristic that you should assess your pliers for before you start cutting into a metal screw is the length of the handle. When it comes to completing this specific task, the longer the handle, the better.

This is due to the fact that with an extremely long handle, you will be able to quickly and easily cut into the metal without applying much force on your own. The force that you exert on the end of the handle that is closest to you will transfer through the tool and help you to complete the task without too much hard work.

In addition to the extended handle making the job easier, it also can make it much safer. The longer the handle stretches, the further the blades get from your body and hands.

So, when you are looking through your toolbox for the right pair of pliers to cut into a metal screw, you should search for something with beveled blades and the longest handle that you can possibly find.

All of these characteristics will not only help you to cut into the screw efficiently, but also faster and in a much safer manner.

In conclusion, the process of cutting into a metal screw with a pair of pliers is a relatively easy task. With some force, pressure, and a little bit of patience, you will be able to alter the size of an existing screw or completely cut it out of a surface when you do not need it anymore.

Regardless of the reason why you might find yourself in a situation where you have decided to cut a metal screw, the methods and processes that were outlined in this article will certainly come in handy whenever you might need them.

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