No Tools, No Problem: How to Remove a Jammed Lens Filter Without a Wrench

Got yourself a stubborn lens filter that you can't remove? It happens. Here's how you can fix it.

If you've ever gone to war with a filter that just doesn't want to be unscrewed from your lens, you probably understand why someone might want to throw a pricey piece of optical gear through a plate glass window. It's frustrating, but there are a few ways that you can (hopefully) loosen up that persistent little a-hole, most of which are relatively safe for the filter and your lens. 

Use a filter wrench

The first approach is, of course, getting yourself some filter wrenches. They're super inexpensive at about $4-$6 for a single and $25-$40 for a set and are probably the safest, most effective tool for removing jammed filters.

But what do you do when you don't have one on hand? Well, there are a few things you might be able to do to loosen your filter. 

Tap it

This tapping method demonstrated by the Koldunov Brothers seems extremely safe compared to other techniques (just wait for Adam Savage's band saw), but it may not work for a really stuck filter.

Use another filter

Eric Rossi uses another filter to remove the jammed filter. This may loosen it up enough to come off, but I'm not so sure I'd be comfortable using a perfectly good filter to wrench around a malfunctioning one. 

Get yourself some rubber

Rubber can be very effective at giving you enough friction to twist your filter right off of your lens. A shoe sole, a rubber cutting board, rubber gloves, pretty much any rubber surface will do.

Credit: PetaPixel

Freeze it

I've heard of people putting their stuck filters in the freezer for a few minutes. I'm not a huge fan of this solution, because 1.) your lens doesn't like extreme temperatures, whether it's hot or cold, and 2.) it may condensate while freezing, which is bad. But the idea behind it is to get your filter back to its normal size, assuming it expanded due to heat. I've also heard of people taking a blow dryer to their filters. Avoid.

Use a band saw

It's not what you think—or at least what I thought—which was using a band saw to create enough metal-on-metal vibration to somehow jimmy it out of its place. In this episode of Tested, Former MythBuster Adam Savage uses a band saw to cut a couple of notches in the filter so he can stick a file between them and twist it like a giant flathead screwdriver. Of course, your filter will probably be toast, but if you've tried everything and nothing works, this might be a good idea—kind of.

What are some other ways to remove jammed lens filters? Let us know in the comments below!     

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