I promise you this – one of the most frustrating things you’ll ever come across is a broken off bolt head.
Seriously, it’s the worst.
No matter how hard you try and no matter what you do, there are some broken bolts that won’t come out with conventional tools.
Bolts or other fasteners can break for a variety or reasons. They can rust, be over tightened, manufactured improperly or whatever. Worse, they almost always break in a place that makes it impossible to extract with regular tools – this is why it’s a good idea to get your own extractor kit.
The need for this DIY kit came during a snow blower repair I did. A bolt holding a support bracket snapped in half, resulting in unstable equipment.
After removing the bracket, I realized the bolt sheared off in a way that made it impossible to remove without an extractor. In researching how to remove broken bolts, I came across extractor sets you can buy to do it yourself. For very little money I bought an individual Irwin spiral screw type with an accompanying drill bit. While the extractor was great, the drill bit was garbage (thankfully, I had better drill bits).
The other thing we bought was a 5/16″ Proto center punch. Like the extractor this, too, was made in the United States and was of exceptional quality.
Why do you need a center punch? The center punch used with a hammer puts an indentation on where the hole will be drilled. This allows the bit to get a better position in the beginning of the drilling process.
After boring out a small hole in what was left of the bolt, I inserted the extractor with a little force from a hammer. Then, using a Vice-Grip locking pliers at the end of the extractor, a simple rotation easily freed the broken bolt.
After thinking of other fasteners that could break, we thought it prudent to make a kit of several sizes and of different types. Therefore, we purchased a Irwin spiral screw extractor set and a fluted one, too.
Both sets are good quality. What I like about having two types is it gives us options. Trust me, from personal experience, the nominal fee you’ll pay for both should be well worth it.
Not only is an extractor kit simple and affordable, it can save time and reduce frustration. I don’t know about you, but I’ll gladly spend a little bit of money to avoid aggravation any day of the week.