Why do Ikea screws always strip?

Let’s face it, we’ve probably all put together way too much Ikea furniture in our lifetimes. Some of us may have even experienced the frustration of stripping screw after screw as we try to assemble the Swedish-named chairs, cabinets and desks, not to mention entire kitchens. Well I have great news for you! There is a secret to this screw-stripping madness. The answer is “Pozidriv”.


Pozidriv (often spelt Pozidrive, Posidrive or Pozi-drive) is a type of screw head and drill bit, that is actually supposed to be an improvement over the standard Phillips screw head. Unfortunately, just about everyone, including Ikea employees, have no idea that every single screw provided with Ikea furniture and Ikea kitchen cabinets is actually a Pozidriv screw and that when you use a standard Phillips drill bit with these screws, it will cam out and strip the screw.

So what’s the difference? A Pozidriv screw will look almost exactly the same as a Phillips screw, but if you look closely, you’ll notice an extra tiny cross at a 45-degree angle to the normal “star” shape. Take a look at the picture at the bottom of this post. You’ll see the Pozidriv groove.

If you want to stop stripping Ikea screws, you need to pick up a Pozidriv bit. It may seem like overkill to purchase a drill bit specifically for assembling Ikea furniture, but if you’re doing any amount of substantial assembling – like installing an Ikea kitchen – trust me, it’s worth it! I picked up an awesome diamond-coated Pozidriv bit from Lee Valley for less than $5. Once you have this bit in your hands, you’ll be amazed at how well the screws just seem to “lock in” and you’ll never strip another screw again!

One last note: as I mentioned above, no one at Ikea knows about Pozidriv, and they will just tell you to use a normal Phillips screwdriver or drill bit. They don’t even sell Pozidriv bits at the store. I would love to see Ikea include these drill bits with their furniture, or at least make it known that each and every screw they distribute is actually a Pozidriv screw.

Pozidriv screw

26 replies on “Why do Ikea screws always strip?”

Funny, I asked in the store to buy some bits and was pointed to the department where they build the displays and sell the kitchen stuff. The guy (a manager) treated me like I was clueless when I asked about the special bit. I tried to explain it and he said it is a standard bit and pulled out his screwdriver, “the cross means its a philips.” I pulled an IKEA screw out of my pocket and showed him how it cams out on his screwdriver and he said that is what all screws do. I said, it is supposed to grab and is designed to not slip or tilt, that is why most boxes of deck screws have their own bit in the box. I asked how many years he had worked at IKEA building stuff, and he said 3 years!!!

TRUST ME, getting the right bit for the screw is critical to keep that efficient and the people at IKEA really don’t know.

Oh thank you so much Chris!!
And since you seem to know a lot about Ikea shelf installation, maybe you can help me with a question. I’m refacing some old Ikea cabinets; same cabinet but new doors. Ikea has since changed to a double row of pilot holes for which to hold the shelf in place and to attach the hinges.

The old Utrusta hinge attached vertically (into the single row of pre-drilled holes). That’s what I have.

The new Utrusta hinge attaches horizontally (into a double row of pre-drilled holes). The 2nd row is what I need to drill, in order to attach the new Utrasta hinge. In order to attach the new door.

So my question is, do you have any suggestions on drill bit sizes?
The new hinge seems to use a 3/16″ bit…but Ikea is europoean and therefore uses euro bits, etc.

Wondering if you have any advice.
Thanks again!

Hi Susan. Unfortunately, I don’t really know much about Ikea’s new kitchen designs. We upgraded our kitchen just before they changed over to the newer style. I think your best bet would be to contact Ikea support and see what they say. Sorry I can’t help.

I too asked about Posidrives after reading this article. It was at Ikea Pratteln (9km from Basel, Switzerland). Similarly I felt like I was asking a strange question with the blank looks I received.

The lady I spoke with (she had fluent English) said that most people don’t need to worry about preserving the screw threads because they don’t dissassble, but instead throw it away and buy new Ikea.

Perhaps that’s why they don’t publicise it, or provide their own posidrill bits. They fear it might reduce their repeat sales if people could successfully reuse their Ikea material.

Interesting thought, Steve. Whatever the reason, I do find it very interesting that they don’t sell these bits with their furniture. If you have the proper bit, assembly is truly a breeze.

After several screw-heads stripped during the assembly of a bed I purchased from Ikea (in Round Rock, Texas), I was told that ‘no one else has this problem (translate – it’s my fault as I don’t know how to properly use a screwdriver) and that it would take 7 to 10 business days for more to be ordered from Sweden. It was infuriating to me. I asked the guy (Eric, the manager without a last name) why they had to order these from Sweden, when they have stores in the US. He looked in the back again, and found ample replacement screws (after I was clearly angry). He NEVER mentioned this bit of information. Thank goodness I read it BEFORE I tried to use the new screws. On my way to the hardware store to get a drill bit, now.

Yes! Thank you for posting this. I do a lot of Ikea furniture assembly for TaskRabbit and I just discovered the Pozidriv vs. Phillips distinction thanks to This Old House. I’m hopeful that a PZ bit will put an end to the stripped screw blues. If anyone knows of a set of PZ drivers that includes a stubby, please post the link.

Ikea Sells a Pozidriv drill bit with their basic $9.99 FIXA Screwdriver set (its a mini drill). It comes with a few drill bits, including what appears to be two Pozidriv bits. For $9.99 I would say it isn’t a bad deal considering you get a few extra drill bits too. The drill that it comes with isn’t probably worth even messing around with but if you are in a pinch and can’t wait for a shipment, just check the FIXA section at your local Ikea.

The FIXA range also includes an $8 17 piece set with Pozidriv bits (and a hand powered driver), as well as larger 7.2v and 14.4v drills (the latter being two speed), both of which include roughly the same set of bits.
Here in Australia they also have a hammer drill, but it doesn’t have driver bits.

Can anyone please advise what Pozi-driv bit size (or sizes) are required for Sektion cabinet installs? PZ1, PZ2, or PZ3? Thanks!

…or what size are the two Pozi-driv bits in the FIXA Screwdriver set?

Yes, you absolutely need Pozidrive bits (they will have “PZ1, PZ2” etc on them as opposed to regular Phillips bits (“PH1” etc.) After assembling multiple items of IKEA stuff and having quite a few screws that stripped or were very close, especially on rolling drawers and the small screws that hold the wheeled bracket to the drawer, I realized I was using Phillips heads but that I had Pozidrive ones also!

Thank you, Chris!! I had put together a couple of bedside tables and didn’t have too much trouble with the screws stripping. But then I got a vanity table and the first two would not go all the way down before they stripped almost completely! Of course someone else has had this problem so Ask the Google! Sure enough, I found your excellent post. Tried to find these bits locally to no avail. Let’s hope I get them soon cause I have the vanity and a huge bookcase to go!

Hi, I was having no trouble putting a 6 drawer Hemnes Dresser together and then I got to the part where I had to attach the drawer sliders to the sides of the dressers and two screws stripped. I removed them with a rubber band technique. And vacuumed up what I could see of the metal bits/shavings that came from the screws being stripped. And stopped working on the dresser. Now…I want to just return the dresser and forget it…as I’m not keen on the the fact that metal bits came off the screw. I didn’t have any problem with the “lock screw” b that you use with the construction of the dresser sides. The metal of the screws used for the draw slides seemed soft. Yeah, I just want to return it…as the metal bits from the two stripped screws is something I’m not keen on. Advice?

How long ago did IKEA change to the Pozidriv style? We need to take apart furniture that is over 5 (maybe even 10) years old. Could it have had a hex before?

This is one reason why I wish the standard would switch from phillips to either square drive or torx (star) drive. With either one of these you hardly ever strip a screw and bits are easy to come by. Try walking into your local big box store and asking for a pozidrive bit. You will get looks like you have a thumb growing out of your forehead.

*checks driver bits from various FIXA tools purchased at IKEA*

Uh, they definitely DO sell Pozidriv bits.

(And even in a phillips screw, the phillips bit is designed to cam out. Pozidriv bits are the greatest thing to happen to cruciform screws)

I find that putting a bit of butter (just a small bit on a fat toothpick) helps greatly with installing Ikea PZ or PH (phillips) screws.

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