So as my clarinet restoration saga continues, anyone have any household secrets for removing stuck screws?

frozen screws

Things I have tried:

  • Oil/wd40

  • Hitting with a hammer (the vibrations apparently free things up sometimes...they didn't.)

  • Gently heating with a lighter. (Kinda nervous about that one, with a wooden clarinet.)

  • Are these screws made of iron? If so, maybe try vinegar to dissolve the rust. Also, a hair dryer may be more effective for heating these large brass parts.
    – anatolyg
    Dec 15, 2014 at 0:35
  • My car's spark plugs seized into my engine and to get them out I needed to buy a spray from a car shop that blasted and dissolved rust for that very purpose, then a spanner and a hammer. I would not recommend this spray as it may damage your instrument, but only as a last ditch attempt. (Hence why this is in a comment not an answer) Dec 15, 2014 at 9:34

2 Answers 2


There is zero chance your lighter will damage the wood, unless you've got a clarinet made of bamboo :-) . Grenadilla wood is next to impossible to ignite. As practical matter, matches or lighters are often used to soften pad-glue and reseat pads in situ.

I would stay far away from hammers, as you're far more likely to bend things and make it all worse.

Now, WD40 is not really a lubricant. You might try silicone spray, or any of those products specifically designed to loosen stuck screws. These typically recommend applying a little and waiting 30-60 minutes to take effect. In all cases, take care to wipe off any excess fluids to avoid any possible damage to wood or to nearby pads.


There are things called 'screw extractors', which need a small hole drilling into the screw/bolt. As they are left hand threaded, as they are screwed into the hole, they grip and undo the screw. The smallest I have will do for a 1/8" screw, but there may be smaller available. Or drill slightly larger holes until the screw is drilled through - carefully! A Dremel-type tool will be good for this.


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