How to unscrew a bolt without a wrench – Easy and Effective Methods

At some point, we’ve all found ourselves in a situation where we need to unscrew a bolt but don’t have a wrench on hand. Whether it’s a loose bolt that needs tightening or a stubborn one that needs removal, there are several easy and effective methods to accomplish the task without relying on a wrench.

One method is using pliers or vice grips. These tools provide a strong grip and can be used to turn the bolt in either direction. Simply lock the pliers or vice grips onto the head of the bolt and apply pressure to unscrew it. Remember to use a pair of pliers or vice grips that are appropriate for the size of the bolt to ensure a secure grip.

If you don’t have pliers or vice grips available, another method is using a pair of adjustable wrenches. While these tools are technically wrenches, they can be used in a different way to unscrew a bolt without the need for a traditional wrench. Adjust one wrench to fit the bolt’s size and lock it onto the head. Then, place the handle of the second wrench into the open jaw of the first wrench and use it as a lever to turn the bolt.

If all else fails, you can try using a pair of locking pliers. Locking pliers have a built-in locking mechanism that allows for a secure grip on the bolt. Simply adjust the jaws of the locking pliers to fit the bolt’s size, lock them into place, and use the handles to turn the bolt.

These methods provide simple and effective alternatives to using a traditional wrench when unscrewing a bolt. Whether you have pliers, vice grips, adjustable wrenches, or locking pliers, there is a solution for everyone. Remember to choose the method that best suits your needs and always exercise caution when working with tools.

What you need to know before starting

  • Make sure you have the correct size and type of screwdriver or wrench for the bolt you are trying to unscrew. Using the wrong tool may strip or damage the bolt head, making it even more difficult to remove.
  • Inspect the bolt to determine if it is rusted or corroded. If so, you may need to use a penetrating oil or rust dissolver to loosen the bolt before attempting to unscrew it.
  • Ensure that you have a stable and secure working area. It’s important to have a solid surface to provide leverage and prevent any accidents or injuries.
  • Consider using gloves and safety goggles for protection. Unscrewing bolts can exert force, and it’s essential to protect your hands and eyes from any potential harm.
  • Be mindful of the type of material or surface that the bolt is attached to. Some methods may cause damage or leave marks, so choose the appropriate method based on the material and its sensitivity.
  • Have a plan B in case the initial method doesn’t work. Some bolts may be extremely stubborn and require alternative approaches, such as heat or cutting tools, to be removed.

Method 1: Using a pair of pliers

When faced with a stubborn bolt that won’t budge, you may not always have a wrench handy. However, a pair of pliers can often be a suitable alternative. Here’s how you can use a pair of pliers to unscrew a bolt:

  1. Start by selecting a pair of pliers that provide a good grip on the bolt. Ideally, choose a pair of locking pliers or adjustable pliers with serrated jaws.
  2. Position the pliers around the head of the bolt, ensuring that the jaws are securely gripping the edges of the bolt.
  3. Apply firm and steady pressure in a counterclockwise direction to loosen the bolt. Be cautious not to apply excessive force, as this can damage the pliers or the bolt.
  4. If the bolt is too tight to loosen using just your hand strength, try using a piece of cloth or rubber for added grip. This can help improve your traction on the bolt and make it easier to loosen.
  5. If the bolt is stripped or rounded, you may need to use additional tools, such as a screw extractor or a socket wrench, to remove it successfully.
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Using pliers to unscrew a bolt can be an effective method, particularly when you don’t have a wrench readily available. However, keep in mind that pliers may not offer as much leverage as a wrench, so it may require more effort to loosen a stubborn bolt. Additionally, remember to always use appropriate safety precautions and be careful not to damage the bolt or surrounding materials.

Method 2: Using a socket set

Step 1: Gather the necessary tools and materials. For this method, you will need a socket set that includes sockets of different sizes, a socket wrench handle, and a ratchet handle.

Step 2: Choose the appropriate socket size. Look at the bolt you need to unscrew and select a socket that matches its size. The socket should fit tightly around the bolt head, ensuring a proper grip.

Step 3: Attach the socket to the socket wrench handle. Insert the square end of the socket into the square port on the wrench handle and ensure it locks securely in place. This will create a solid connection between the socket and the handle.

Step 4: Position the socket onto the bolt. Place the socket over the bolt head, ensuring it sits firmly on the bolt without any wobbling.

Step 5: Hold the socket in place with one hand while using the other hand to grip the ratchet handle. The ratchet handle allows you to apply force in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction, depending on the direction you need to unscrew the bolt.

Step 6: Turn the ratchet handle in the appropriate direction to unscrew the bolt. Apply steady pressure while turning the handle until the bolt begins to loosen. If the bolt is particularly tight, you may need to use more force or apply a lubricant to help loosen it.

Step 7: Continue turning the ratchet handle until the bolt is completely unscrewed. Once the bolt is loosened, you can remove it from the socket and proceed with your project.

Note: Always be cautious when working with tools and ensure you have a firm grip on the socket set and ratchet handles to avoid any accidents or injuries.

Method 3: Using a screwdriver and hammer

Method 3: Using a screwdriver and hammer

If you don’t have a wrench or pliers available, you can still remove a stubborn bolt using a screwdriver and a hammer. This method requires a bit more effort, but it can be effective in certain situations.

  1. Select a screwdriver that fits snugly into the bolt head. It should be a flathead or Phillips screwdriver, depending on the type of bolt you’re working with.
  2. Hold the screwdriver securely in place and tap the end of the handle with a hammer to create a force that will loosen the bolt. Be careful not to hit the screwdriver too hard, as this may damage the screwdriver or the surrounding area.
  3. Continue tapping the handle of the screwdriver with the hammer while applying slight pressure in the opposite direction. This combination of force and pressure will help to unscrew the bolt.
  4. If the bolt is particularly tight, you may need to tap the handle of the screwdriver harder or use a heavier hammer to create more force. However, be cautious not to overdo it, as excessive force can cause the screwdriver to slip or strip the bolt head.
  5. Once the bolt starts to turn, you can use your fingers to continue unscrewing it until it is fully removed.
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Using a screwdriver and hammer to unscrew a bolt is a makeshift method that should only be used as a last resort. It is not the most efficient or recommended method, but it can be a temporary solution if you don’t have the proper tools available.

Important tip: Make sure to wear safety goggles and gloves when using a hammer to prevent any debris or metal shards from causing injuries.

Method 4: Using a vise grip

Method 4: Using a vise grip

A vise grip is a type of locking pliers that can be used to unscrew a bolt without a wrench. Here is how you can use a vise grip to remove a stubborn bolt:

  1. First, make sure the vise grip is adjusted to fit the size of the bolt head. You can do this by turning the screw on the vise grip to open or close the jaws.
  2. Once the vise grip is adjusted, place the jaws of the vise grip around the bolt head, ensuring a tight grip.
  3. Hold the vise grip steady with one hand and use your other hand to turn the handle of the vise grip counterclockwise to loosen the bolt.
  4. If the bolt is not coming loose easily, you can use a hammer to tap on the handle of the vise grip in the direction of the loosening motion. This can help to break any rust or other debris that may be causing the bolt to stick.
  5. Continue turning the vise grip handle counterclockwise until the bolt is completely loosened and can be removed by hand.

Using a vise grip can be an effective method for unscrewing a bolt without a wrench, especially if the bolt is stuck or hard to reach with other tools.

Method 5: Using a pipe wrench

A pipe wrench is a versatile tool that can be used for a variety of tasks, including unscrewing bolts. Here is how you can use a pipe wrench to unscrew a bolt:

  1. Start by selecting a pipe wrench that is the right size for the bolt you need to unscrew. The wrench should fit snugly around the bolt.
  2. Position the pipe wrench so that the jaws are securely gripping the bolt.
  3. Hold the pipe wrench handle with one hand, and use your other hand to apply counter-clockwise force to loosen the bolt.
  4. If the bolt is particularly stubborn, you can try using a cheater bar or a piece of pipe to provide extra leverage on the wrench handle.
  5. Continue applying force in a counter-clockwise direction until the bolt is completely unscrewed.

It’s important to note that using a pipe wrench in this way can potentially damage the bolt or surrounding materials. If you are working with a delicate or expensive bolt, it may be advisable to use a different method or consult a professional.

In addition, always remember to wear appropriate safety gear, such as gloves and safety glasses, when working with tools.

Method 6: Using heat

Method 6: Using heat

If you’re dealing with a bolt that’s been stuck for a while and other methods have failed to work, using heat can be an effective way to loosen it. Applying heat to the bolt expands the metal, which can break the rust or corrosion bond and make it easier to unscrew.

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  • Heat source (such as a blowtorch, heat gun, or propane torch)
  • Fireproof mat or surface
  • Protective gloves and eyewear



  1. Start by putting on protective gloves and eyewear to ensure your safety.
  2. Place a fireproof mat or surface underneath the bolt to protect the surrounding area.
  3. Choose a heat source that suits your situation. A blowtorch, heat gun, or propane torch can all be effective options. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe use of your chosen heat source.
  4. Direct the heat source towards the bolt, focusing on the base of the bolt where it meets the surface it’s screwed into.
  5. Move the heat source back and forth along the bolt to evenly distribute the heat.
  6. Continue applying heat for a few minutes, allowing the metal to expand and break the rust or corrosion bond.
  7. After sufficient heating, try to unscrew the bolt using a suitable tool, such as a wrench or pliers. If the heat has been effective, the bolt should be easier to remove.
  8. Once the bolt is successfully unscrewed, allow it to cool down before handling it.

Note: When using heat to loosen a bolt, it’s important to exercise caution and take necessary safety precautions. Avoid touching the heated bolt or any other hot surfaces to prevent burns or other injuries. Additionally, be mindful of flammable materials and keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergencies.


What can I use instead of a wrench to unscrew a bolt?

There are several alternatives you can use instead of a wrench to unscrew a bolt. Some options include pliers, adjustable wrenches, socket wrenches, vise grips, or even a pair of strong grip gloves.

Is it possible to unscrew a bolt without any tools?

Yes, it is possible to unscrew a bolt without using any tools, but it requires a different approach. One method is to use a rubber band or a piece of cloth between the bolt head and your fingers to provide extra grip and leverage.

Can I use heat to loosen a stuck bolt?

Yes, applying heat to a stuck bolt can help loosen it. You can use a propane torch or a heat gun to heat up the bolt, which causes it to expand and break free from any rust or corrosion that may be causing it to stick.

What should I do if a bolt is stripped?

If a bolt is stripped, meaning the threads are damaged or worn down, there are a few options to try. You can use a pair of pliers or vise grips to grip onto the bolt head and try turning it. Alternatively, you can use a bolt extractor tool or try tapping the bolt with a hammer while turning it to create new threads.

Are there any household items that can help unscrew a bolt?

Yes, there are several household items that can help unscrew a bolt. Some options include using a hammer and a screwdriver, using an old wrench that may be slightly smaller or larger than the bolt, or using a pair of pliers or channel locks to grip onto the bolt head.

What should I do if a bolt is stuck due to rust?

If a bolt is stuck due to rust, there are a few methods you can try. You can try spraying the bolt with a penetrating oil or rust dissolver and letting it sit for a few minutes to loosen up the rust. You can also try tapping the bolt gently with a hammer to help break up the rust. If these methods don’t work, you may need to apply heat or use a bolt extractor tool.


Harrison Clayton

Harrison Clayton

Meet Harrison Clayton, a distinguished author and home remodeling enthusiast whose expertise in the realm of renovation is second to none. With a passion for transforming houses into inviting homes, Harrison's writing at brings a breath of fresh inspiration to the world of home improvement. Whether you're looking to revamp a small corner of your abode or embark on a complete home transformation, Harrison's articles provide the essential expertise and creative flair to turn your visions into reality. So, dive into the captivating world of home remodeling with Harrison Clayton and unlock the full potential of your living space with every word he writes.

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