How to Break Breakaway Screws

Updated on April 6, 2019

What Is a Breakaway Screw?

A breakaway screw is ideal for mounting kitchen or bathroom cabinet knobs and pulls, especially when the thickness of the cabinets varies. It is a long screw that has notches in it at quarter-inch intervals. It easily breaks off at the notches, so you can choose the length you need for your build.

Having recently become a do-it-yourselfer, I removed my kitchen cabinets to paint them, but when it came to putting them back, I realized the screws were in bad condition and needed to be replaced. I needed three different lengths of screws for the job. I also needed a cabinet pull for a new cabinet I was to install. At my local hardware store, while waiting for a clerk to reassure me that I was buying the right screw sizes, I discovered a package of breakaway screws. I purchased the screws and a cabinet pull.

When I opened the package for the cabinet handle, I saw that it also came with breakaway screws. However, neither package had directions on how to use them. If you've run into the same problem, you've come to the right place. This guide will explain what should be extremely obvious but isn't: how to break breakaway screws.

Breakaway screws.
Breakaway screws. | Source

Tools You (Supposedly) Need

Besides the breakaway screws, of course, you need only three simple tools to break the screws.

  • Measuring tape
  • Two pairs of pliers

If you don't have these tools, don't fret. I found an alternative way to break breakaway screws, which I describe below.

These are the parts of the screws that were broken away.
These are the parts of the screws that were broken away. | Source

How to Break Breakaway Screws

  1. Measure the object into which the screw will go to determine how deep the screw must reach. (Note: Measure not only the thickness of the cabinet or object, but also the part that will be used to fasten it.)
  2. Using this measurement, determine where you want to break the screw. It is notched at every quarter inch, so simply decide which notch to use.
  3. Use one pair of pliers to hold the side of the screw you want to use. Hold this side tightly. Use the other pair of pliers to grab the end of the part you want to remove.
  4. Wiggle the end of the screw up and down and side to side with the pliers until the piece breaks off.

Video Tutorial on How to Break Breakaway Screws

My DIY Experience With Breakaway Screws

The design of my cabinet made it difficult to use measuring tape. Instead, I simply put the screws into the holes and visually marked where the screw needed to be broken.

I had a hard time breaking the screw by myself, so I enlisted some help. We also did not have two pairs of pliers. For most of the drawers, we used a pair of pliers and a wrench. That's it, that simple.

We also added a new cabinet to the other side of the dishwasher. For this drawer, we broke the screw while it was in the drawer. We put the screws in, but not all the way, so that the part we wanted broken was close to the edge of the drawer. We didn't have it all the way to the edge, as we wanted to avoid scraping the drawer.

Doing it this way, we only needed the pliers to bend and break them. You do run the risk of ruining the cabinet if you use this method, so only use it if you are sure the cabinet is sturdy and can take this kind of pressure.

Have you ever used breakaway screws?

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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2013 Shasta Matova

Comments: How to Break Breakaway Screws

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      You can kill (or wound) the working part of the thread this way.. :) better grip the head

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      Thanks Sheri, Tolovaj and Roberta. I think that when people are in a particular industry, they assume that everyone knows what they do, but you're right, I think this is a relatively new product, and with DIY movement, there are a lot of people who don't know these types of things even if they were common. It seems like a simple explanation on the box would be helpful.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      For manufacturers to assume that everyone is familiar with such a product seems a little silly, especially now that so many more people are interested in DIY projects and are willing to step out of their comfort zone to accomplish tasks. Glad you had good success in your project and were able to share what you learned here!

    • Tolovaj profile image


      6 years ago

      Sounds like a very practical solution for a lot of problems from the real world. I am not very handy, so this info is completely new to me. Thanks!

    • Sheri Faye profile image

      Sheri Dusseault 

      6 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      Well aren't you just the clever one. Good to know!

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      Thanks for your vote and comment Carolyn. Glad to be of help.

    • carol3san profile image

      Carolyn Sands 

      6 years ago from Hollywood Florida

      Nice Hub. Thanks for the info, it is good for me to know...especially since I am a widow living alone.

      Voted up and useful.


    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      Thanks Dianna. I am feeling quite empowered with tackling projects I didn't think I could do before. I am learning quite a lot.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      Thanks Koralee. I'd be happy to put together your desk after I am done with my list of things to do. It might take a decade or two...

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      Thanks Bill. It may seem like something intuitive to someone who is a handyman, but for me, it took me some time to figure out how to break a breakaway screw.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      You are amazing! I have taken on many projects around the house but not with as great a challenge as this. You have my admiration on how well you solved everything and got it all back together.

    • KoraleeP profile image

      Koralee Phillips 

      6 years ago from Vancouver British Columbia Canada

      Great information! I have a desk I could use your help putting together :).

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      This is one of those things that nobody thinks to write about but everyone wants to know. Great information here my friend.


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