WNY Handyman

Fixing a Stripped Wood Screw

Anyone who has turned a screwdriver has probably experienced a stripped wood screw.  There isn’t much to it.  In fact, if you are hanging a door, you will marvel at how easy it is to strip the hole.  Fiixing that hole is not as difficult as you might think.  I have a few quick solutions for you to try.

The most common case of the stripped wood screw comes in the form of door hinges.  A door is heavy, is often abused, and the factory screw might only be 5/8″ – 3/4″ long.  There isn’t much for the screw to bite into, and in many cases it will be a material such as MDF.  It essentially turns to dust once crushed.  If you remove the screw and send it back in on a different thread line, you will destroy what little holding power was left.

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Fix a stripped wood screw

Here are the three methods that I use.  The method that I use can depend on the material and supplies that I have present.  It can also depend on how much time between returning the screw to the stripped hole.

  1. Toothpicks and glue.
    This is a method that my father showed me some 30 years ago.  Don’t over-think this one.  Slip a toothpick or two into the hole and snap them off where they exit the hole.  If the hole is all the way through the material, you may want to wedge a couple in there.  Adding some wood glue to the hole isn’t necessary, but I know that if I need to pull the screw from that hold in the future, it will hold my repair in place.  (Again, don’t over-think it, it could be Elmer’s white glue, construction adhesive, etc).  If you don’t have any toothpicks on the job site (who does) simply shave some material from a shim, or any other wood that you have nearby.  If you are a golfer, and the hole is large enough, grab a golf tee.  It might just be the perfect size to fill. If you do use a tee, you might want to drill a pilot hole so you don’t crack your material.
  2. Sawdust and glue.
    This method is more for filling a hold that you wont be using any more. Mix up some glue and sawdust (more saw dust than glue) and pack it in the hole. If you have the same saw dust as the material, you will end up with a close color match.  Once packed, dust the surface with a bit more of the sawdust to get the color a bit closer.
  3. Sandpaper.
    This is a method that I realized was very effective.  During the finishing stages of a recent project I had 3 stripped screws on a door hinge.  I didn’t have any wood handy and happened to have a bit of sandpaper.  I simply tore the sandpaper and rolled it up so that I could slip it into the hold. It worked perfectly.  The grit on the paper was facing out and did a terrific job in biting the wood.  The paper on the back worked great to allow the screw to turn in and seat.
There you have it… 3 simple solutions for securing a wood screw in a stripped hole.  Seems like such common sense to most of us who do this type of work.  It wasn’t until I helped a neighbor with a project that I realized many people have no idea how to correct these issues.  In fact, he asked if he needed to replace the door!
Good luck and thanks for reading WNY Handyman.


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