Cross-head or Phillips screws have a plus-shaped slot in the head and are driven by a cross-head screwdriver, designed originally in the 1930s for use with mechanical screwing machines. They were intentionally made so the driver would ride out, or cam out, at a certain force to prevent over-tightening. After a piece of equipment has been disassembled and rebuilt numerous times, the Phillips head drive wears out in the screw head “by design.”

When removal is required but the driver continues to ride out of the slot, place a small amount of lapping compound in the +-shaped slot of the screw head and proceed with the removal, (always replacing the stripped screw with a new one.)

This method works like magic on all sizes of Phillips head screws and can save a lot of needless frustration. Not earth-shattering technology, but a pretty neat trick.

Tip provided by Thomas Keefer of Tennessee Valley Authority.
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by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL