June 26, 2021
Stripped screw holes always happen. Though you could find the culprit of why it even occurred, you have to focus on one priority: fixing them.
Why? Well, not only is a stripped screw hole useless, but it could also pose a danger to you and your project! If you want to avoid this, you want to get to fixing it as quickly as possible.
Don’t worry. With this kind of problem, you don’t need a lot of time or resources to fix stripped screw holes! With just a few tools, a chunk of your day, and enough dedication, you can patch up that hole quickly.
Got a bigger hole? It’s fine! We have methods where you can use lag screws, bolts, and wood fillers.
To unlock all these quick and easy methods to fix up your stripped screw holes, read on!
Top 8 Effective Methods to Fix a Stripped Wood Screw Holes
Method 1: Use a Larger Screw to Replace the Old One
Why This Method: A more extensive and coarser screw is guaranteed to bite into fresh wood! It’ll stick there and take care of the stripped screw hole easily.
How To Do It: After you notice the stripped screw hole, look for another one right away in your workshop. You can go to the store if you don’t have any screw stocks left.
You need a screw that is:
- slightly longer
- with a larger diameter (look at the gauge number)
- a combination of both
Make sure that the new screws you buy have the same thread type. If they aren’t, it’s better to have coarser, aggressive threads, ensuring steeper thread pitch.
We all agree that it’s better to get a larger screw, but you don’t want it to split the wood! Don’t get something gigantic. To make sure you’re within the ideal range, go up one to two gauge sizes.
Got the screw? It’s time to install it. There’s only one guideline: you’ve got to be careful.
It’s already been damaged once, right? Well, it’s now more vulnerable than ever. You’re much stronger than you realize, so be gentle when forcing it in! You don’t want to split the wood.
Method 2: Use a Longer Screw
Why This Method: For the same reasons as above! Longer screws with more thread counts can bite into the wood fresh.
How To Do It: Take the broken screw out. Look for one slightly longer. If it’s larger, that’s great, too! We’re aiming for those few extra threads.
Method 3: Use a Matchstick or Toothpick to Fix the Area
Why This Method: Guess what matchsticks and toothpicks’ material is? Yes, wood! With the extra wood stuffed inside the hole, you’ve effectively made it smaller.
How to Do It: Matchsticks or toothpicks should be easy to come by in your home. Look into those kitchen cabinets, cupboards, and drawers.
You want to get at least three matchsticks or toothpicks to put into the hole. Break off the excess with your fingers – or measure where it ends to slice off the ends. You can use an awl to make it easier.
Run the screw into the smaller hole. Those threads are sure to get a grip!
Method 4: Use a Wood Dowel
Why This Method: Are you familiar with what a wood dowel is? If not, here’s a hint: you can find it in most IKEA furniture. It’s the cylindrical tubes that reinforce furniture together. It’s an easy way to create new wood for your screw!
How to Do It: For this method, you need a drill. Drill a hole into your workpiece. The spot should be roughly around the same diameter as the dowel you’re planning to use, so make sure you measure out everything first!
Once the drilled hole is made, you can take the dowel. Have it flush against the spot. To ensure a firmer grip, use some wood glue. You’re all done!
Just a note of caution, though: you don’t want a larger dowel than the hole you’ve got. It’ll look odd and out of place. Maintain the clean look of your workpiece by double-checking all measurements.
Method 5: Use Plastic Anchors
Why This Method: With just a few plastic anchors and wood glue, you can create a brand new surface for your screws. The plastic anchors generate the kind of surface that is easy to grip! Driving it would be no problem.
How To Do It: Again, you don’t have to buy anything. You probably have leftover plastic anchors and wood glue in your workshop.
Do you not know what plastic anchors are? Well, they’re used to hang up pictures and decorations to make sure your wall is never just empty space. Aside from hanging up decor, these screws are also used for expansion. They can reinforce the screws without any damage.
You can find plastic anchors in hardware shops and may come in kits. They’re not the best solution, but we can still recommend them as a DIY fix.
The stripped coils can be drilled out of the hole. You may need to redrill again to make sure the plastic anchors fit. Aside from the plastic anchors, you also need a drill bit of the same size.
Glue the plastic anchors in or hammer them down into the hole. Get a hinge, align it, and put the screws into the new surface. A good grip is guaranteed!
Method 6: Refill and Redrive!
Why This Method: It’s a durable, sure-fire way to fix stripped wood screw holes! Remember: you must use the same wood type for the filler you’ll use so it expands as you like. The grip will be tight enough once you drive the screws into the hole.
How to Do It: Set aside the original screw. Identify the type of wood filler you’re going to use. You can use scrap wood if you’ve got it lying around your workshop. On the other hand, you can always get new pieces.
You want to match the wood you need to fill in! If it’s not the same, at least make sure, it’s a similar species. Softwood and hardwood don’t mix: either it’ll be too wobbly, or damage will happen again.
Cut or shave the scrap wood into strips or shavings, then dip them into wood glue. Fill in the hole and let the glue dry.
It will only take a few hours! After it dries, you can trim off the excess with knives or chisels. Now, it’s time to make a brand new pilot hole into the new surface.
Then, drive the screw into the hole. Congrats! You’ve successfully fixed the stripped wood screw hole.
Method 7: Use a Hardwood Plug To Fill in the Damaged Hole
Why This Method: Hardwood plugs are less susceptible to damage and can handle stripped wood screw holes. This method is a substitute for most woodworkers using particle boards or medium-density fiberboards. Both of the last materials contain glue and resins, which can tear out at any time.
How to Do It: Scrap stick-fill fixes. They won’t do anything for you! Instead, buy a hardwood plug.
Unless you’ve used one before, you might not have one of these in your home. Hardwood plugs are always available from home and hobby centers or woodworking dealers. Hit up the mall or your friends for some! You can probably get it for cheaper.
Again, a drill is necessary. Drill out the damage with a drill bit – preferably at ½ inch. Enlarge it a bit before gluing in a hardwood plug. In some cases, you can use a hardwood dowel!
After all the gluing is done, you need to wait for the glue to cure. It won’t budge after.
Now, it’s time to drill again. This time, you need to make a pilot hole into the new surface before driving the original screw.
Method 8: Use Auto Body Filler to Fill in the Hole
Why This Method: Did the auto body filler take you by surprise? Us, too. But there’s an excellent reason why it must be used. They’re typically used to fix up dents, and you can use them to fill up the hole as the new screw’s surface.
How to Do It: You need a drill first! Use a ½-inch drill bit and drill the stripped screw hole out. Enlarge it a bit before filling it with your choice of auto body filler.
Auto body filler usually comes in a kit. You get two things: a filler and a hardener. You can mix this ahead of time or do it after drilling.
While it’s still wet, you can put in the screw lubricated. It’ll have a tight, sure grip. Let the surface harden and set more auto body filler around the edges. Take it out, clean the surface, and then put it back in after curing for around 24 hours.
To Sum It Up
Stripped screw holes are standard. Don’t worry – it’s normal for them to lose grip, especially after a long time. With this kind of liability in time, you need to know how to fix them up quickly!
Of course, even with woodworking, prevention is always better than cure. Before anything else, however, learn to keep an eye out for loose screws and see if you can be one step ahead of them, creating damage. If the screw loosens all the way, fixtures, hinges, and accents will drop quick.
These methods can help to make the wood holes usable once more. You can try out the different techniques we listed above and see which one works. Some of them may be easy; some are more complicated and elaborate. Whatever the case, you can make sure it won’t consume much of your time.
Even if you don’t have the necessary experience to fix them up, you can add every failure to your skills. But to be honest, we’re pretty sure you can pull them off!
There is no one-size-fits-all cure. So, tell us which one you’ve tried – and which method was new! We hope we helped you out with this common problem no matter what.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker, carpenter and author who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.