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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 '14 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) – Dave Engineer Dec 15 '14 at 9:34
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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.

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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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