How to Remove Broken or Hardened Bolts

Written by mary lougee
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How to Remove Broken or Hardened Bolts
Removing rusty bolts is difficult and may lead to breaking off the head. (nut & bolt 2 image by Skip Haywood from

Any project that involves removing bolts to replace parts on a car, lawnmower or any other home appliance becomes more difficult with stubborn or broken bolts. Frustration hinders even the most experienced do-it-yourselfers. Keeping a few inexpensive items around the home for situations like these can save valuable time in removing awkward bolts.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Penetrating oil
  • Wrench
  • Vice grips
  • File
  • Drill with drill bit
  • Rotary cutter with cutting wheel
  • Flat drill bit

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  1. 1

    Spray a liberal amount of penetrating oil around the bolt head so that it soaks between the bolt and the bolt surface.

  2. 2

    Wait five minutes for the oil to work.

  3. 3

    Respray the penetrating oil around the bolt head.

  4. 4

    Place a wrench on the bolt and turn it counterclockwise to remove.

  5. 5

    Repeat this procedure if the bolt is still stuck, and use vice grips to turn the bolt head.

  1. 1

    File the shaft of the bolt off so that it is flat. Rub the file across the bolt shaft so there are no protruding pieces of metal. The bolt shaft is the long section with threads under the bolt head.

  2. 2

    Place a drill bit in the drill that is about half the diameter of the bolt shaft.

  3. 3

    Drill a hole in the centre of the bolt shaft. Stop the drill and press the reverse button without removing the bit.

  4. 4

    Start the drill in reverse to remove the bolt from the object.

  1. 1

    Place a cutting wheel on a rotary cutter.

  2. 2

    Turn the rotary cutter on and place the sharp edge of the cutting wheel in the centre of the bolt shaft.

  3. 3

    Cut a small slit in the centre of the bolt shaft that is wide enough for a screwdriver.

  4. 4

    Place a flat bit in a drill and put the drill in reverse. Unscrew the bolt from the item.

Tips and warnings

  • Penetrating oil is very thin and soaks down a bolt shaft in between the threads and the bolt-hole to lubricate rusted and stuck bolts for removal.

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