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How To Fix a Stripped Screw Hole in Sheet Metal

fixing stripped screw in sheet metal

How To Fix a Stripped Screw Hole in Sheet Metal

Once upon a time, I thought the worst thing that could happen while I was working on a do it yourself project around the house, was that I strip a screw. I have since found out that there is something far worse. A stripped screw hole in sheet metal is a far worse enemy of mine.

The good news, I think, is that if you do it enough, you learn how to fix it. You can benefit from my disasters. I am including a few options for fixing such a problem. Before I jump into the explanations, I do want to say that some of these take some experience, so if you have one shot to get it right, you may want to go with the easiest option.

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Use A Bigger Screw

Sheet metal is thin and you may need to be really careful with which option you choose. Finding a bigger screw is probably the easiest option but it is not always possible. You may not have enough room for a larger screw, or it may not look the best.

If it is possible, get a slightly larger screw than the one that is supposed to be used and screw that into the hole. If that does not work, try the next option on the list. 

Dolly and Hammer Method

This method is one of the best ways to fix a stripped hole because sheet metal is thin and it will not destroy it. This way is not really that much harder than using a bigger screw, but it does take practice.

This method is still a little easier than the next method. If you have the ability to practice a bit, this may be a good choice for you. If you only have one chance to get it right, this may not be the time to try it. Unless, of course, you are feeling lucky. 

Before I tell you how to use this method, I want to explain what a dolly and a hammer are, just in case you are like me, and did not have a clue what a dolly was until you had to use it. 

You do not want to use a nail hammer for this job. You want a specialty hammer, called a ball peen hammer. This hammer is used mostly in metal working and it has two heads. One is flat and the other is rounded. 

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A dolly is the metal device you will use behind the sheet metal. It is known as a backup device. It comes in many different sizes and shapes, but the most common are a wedge, egg, and heel shape. You may need to use a specific shape based upon the amount of space with which you have to work. 

When you strip the hole in sheet metal, the metal is not actually gone. It has just been separated and pulled apart. Using a dolly and a hammer, you can bring the metal back together. 

You want to press the dolly up against the back of the hole as tight as you can get it. You should be able to see the dolly through the hole. Once you put the dolly in place, you want to whack it a couple of times with the hammer. You want to be confident in your whacks so you do not bang into something else. 

When you are banging on the metal, it is smashing it together so the hole becomes smaller and you can use the original screw in it. 

Helicoil Insert

This method is a little more advanced but is the longest lasting of all the options. The purpose of this option is to put new threading into the hole that was stripped. When you do this, the new threading in the hole gives the screw something to grab. This option works for just about any hole size. 

What You’ll Need:

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First Step: Take Care of the Old Hole

  • You will have to drill out the old hole to remove all the old threads. This gives you a hole with no threads in which to start new. Your thread repair kit tells you which drill size you need to accomplish the step to remove all the threads.

Second Step: Find the Helicoil Insert You Need 

  • The most important steps to installing a helicoil is to find the right size you need. Without the right size, you may not have success with this option.
  • The best way to figure out the size is to use the original screw and measure it with the correct tools.
  • This helps you to make sure you have the right spacing and length measurement for your insert. 

Third Step: Use the Tap Set to Create New Threads

  • With your tap set, you must tap a hole to get it ready for the helicoil insert.
  • You must make sure you have the right size. In case you have not noticed, size does matter. 
  • Using your drill, you must insert the tap to give the helicoil insert something to grab onto. 

Fourth Step: Put the Helicoil Insert in Place

  • When you have the tap put in place, you can install the helicoil into the tap.
  • You then should use the insert tool to get the helicoil insert as far into the tap as you need it. 
  • When the insert is in place, you must make sure it is in far enough before you remove the installation tool.
  • When you remove it, the helicoil should remain in place. 

Last Step: Remove Tang

  • You will have to break the tang, which is part of the helicoil insert. There is a notched part of the tang on the insert. Break off the tang at the insert.
  • You are going to have to use tweezers, or maybe a magnet, to get the tang you broke off. You must make sure that you remove it. Do not leave it in there. 
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