Dynamic Labs 1.50mm Extractor

Vigor Extractor Set
EconoPro Zapper Screw Extractor Pliers from Hilco
Santinelli Screw Extractor Set

Broken frame screws can be the bane of an optician’s existence; here’s how to fix them. 

While most of our job as opticians is satisfying, there is one thing that plagues us all: repair work. It’s those times when a patient enters your shop with their eyeglasses in a plastic bag and you think to yourself, “Oh, this can’t be good.” And nothing’s worse, in my opinion, than when a patient presents you with a frame that had a screw break off inside of it. Sometimes it can be a quick fix, while at other times it takes some serious work. The following are some screw repair methods, from easy to difficult cases.

These fixes make you look like a hero. The screw looks like it is broken off in the hinge but only the tip has snapped off. If you’re really lucky, all that remains is the end of the screw and this can be pushed out with a fine-tip screwdriver. That is seldom the case, however. Still, I have found that some screws, if enough of the screw body is exposed, can easily be removed with a set of needlenose pliers. By simply grasping the end of the screw, you can turn it and remove it with just a couple of turns.

Other fixes require a little more attention and could require specialty tools. For example, if the broken screw is not recessed too far, I like to use a screw-head file to file a slot in the top of the screw shaft. Companies like Hilco, Dynamic Labs, Inc., and Western Optical Supply, Inc., make several files in a wide variety of shapes (see “Files Add that Finishing Touch,” p. 62). Once the slot is deep enough, a screwdriver can be used to twist the screw out. Note that care must be taken when using files so that you do not cut into the frame/hinge. This usually requires you to only move the file a couple of millimeters at a time. You also need to be certain to make the groove inside the screw deep enough; otherwise the newly formed slot will break off, making the repair even more difficult.

Whether the repair is easy or difficult, the next tool I like to employ is the screw extractor. This screwdriver-like tool has four teeth designed to grip the outsides of the screw as it turns and can be used at either end of the screw. Extractors are available from companies such as Dynamic Labs, Santinelli International, Inc., Lab-Tech, Inc., and Vigor Optical in different sizes, so it is best to choose one that corresponds with the condition of the screw you’re working with. Oversized extractors can grip the sides of the screw more easily if enough of the screw is protruding from the frame. Smaller extractors should be used when approaching the finished end of the screw rather than the broken end.

Sometimes it’s impossible to remove the screw by turning it. Due to corrosion or not enough of the screw being visible, extraction must be done via other means. There are several approaches to take for these situations: One such method is to punch the screw out with any number of tools. You can use a staking tool, but you will run the risk of bending or marring the frame. One solution is the EconoPro Zapper Screw Extractor Pliers from Hilco, specifically designed to punch out broken or frozen screws.

As a last resort, I will use a drill or rotary tool and brace the frame on the workbench. This can be difficult, as the drill bit will often dance off the broken screw. If you choose this method, have either a tap set or a self-tapping screw handy. Many companies make self-tapping screws now, which makes our job much less difficult.

Now that you’re updated on repairing frames with broken eyeglass screws, load yourself up with the right equipment and bring on the challenges!

Kevin Harrison is President and Owner of Heritage Vision Center, an independent optical dispensary in Hattiesburg, MS.

Dynamic Labs, Inc. 888-339-6264 •
Hilco 800-955-6544 •
Lab-Tech, Inc.
800-822-4343 •
Santinelli International, Inc.
800-644-3343 •
Vigor Optical (A Division of Grobet USA)
800-847-4188 •
Western Optical Supply, Inc. 800-423-3294 •


1 Comment

  1. Thanks for providing us tips on how to repair the broken screws of eyeglasses. I like what you said about how repairs for broken glasses can be a quick fix or may take some serious work. My mom has been using her glasses for 3 years now. She’s having issues with the loose screw. I think it’s best to go to a professional optical shop to get her glasses repaired.

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