How to Remove One Way Screws

John Smith

One-way screws are different because they can be turned in only one direction. Also known as security screws, they received their name because they are difficult to remove and are commonly used to prevent vandalism.

They are installed in the standard way with a screwdriver but can't be removed with a screwdriver because their sloped slots will make the screwdriver slip out. Several methods are recommended to remove a one-way screw, ranging from the fairly simple to drilling it out.


One way screw extractors tend to be on the expensive side and can be hard to locate. Don't break off the screw extractor in the screw.

Easiest Approach

  1. Place locking pliers on the head of the one-way screw, and turn the screw counterclockwise until it comes out.

  2. If you can't initially get a strong (or firm) enough grip on the one-way screw with the pliers, use a file to flatten the opposite edges of the head. This should improve the grip.

  3. Turn the pliers counterclockwise, and remove the screw.

First Alternative

  1. Buy a one-way screw extractor, which is a tool designed for you to place into the head of the screw. A screw extractor functions in the same way as a regular screwdriver but has two pins instead of a regular full-width head. These pins provide grip and won't ride up the the sloped slots of the screw's head.

  2. Place the one-way screw remover into the the head of the screw.

  3. Turn the one-way screw counter-clockwise until it comes out. The one-way screw extractor reverses the screw out of its frozen position.

Third Choice

  1. Drill a hole into the head of the one-way screw with a power drill. Start with the smallest bit, and work your way up.

  2. Use pliers to place the bit of a regular screw extractor into the head of the one-way screw.

  3. Tap the head of the screw remover with a hammer.

  4. Turn the bit counterclockwise to release the screw.

  5. Tap the bit more firmly into the screw if it does not initially come out. If it still won't come out, enlarge the hole and try again.

Last Resort

  1. Cut off the head of the one-way screw off with a hacksaw, or remove the head with a drill.

  2. Grip the remaining shank of the screw with pliers.

  3. Turn the pliers counterclockwise, and remove the screw.