Whether it's been pulled out by gravity or a great tug or it's become stripped from too much retightening, repairing a screw that's lost its grip in wood is an easy fix. In most cases the repair is also invisible, being hidden behind a hinge or other hardware or by an adjoining piece of wood. There are a few ways to deal with screw blowouts. The easiest is to simply replace the original screw with one slightly larger (preferably with more aggressive threads) and/or longer. Use a longer screw if there's sufficient backing for the screw to grab. Another method is to plug the screw hole with a new piece of wood.
Things You'll Need
- Drill and bits
- Wood dowel or plug
- Wood glue
- Utility knife or handsaw
Remove the screw from the hole, and blow out the hole to remove any loose chips and shavings.
Find a wood dowel, scrap, or implement that closely matches the diameter of the hole. Some things to try, in ascending order of size: toothpick, golf tee, chopstick, milled wood dowel of any size. For larger holes, or if the surrounding wood is really chewed up, bore out the screw hole with a drill and bit that matches the diameter of your plug.
Apply wood glue to the tip of your plug and push it into the screw hole. Tap the butt end of the plug with a hammer to make sure it's firmly seated. Let the glue dry completely.
Cut off the exposed end of the plug so it's flush with the surrounding wood, using a utility knife, handsaw, or Japanese-type flush-cut saw. Don't use a chisel, because it will crush the wood fibers and could dislodge the plug.
Drill a new pilot hole for the screw and install the screw.
Tips & Warnings
- For very small screw holes, you can often stick a glued toothpick or splinter into the hole and immediately break it off, then drive the screw after the glue has set up (don't drill a pilot hole).
- If the area around the screw hole(s) is severely damaged, repair it with a high-quality wood filler, one that's made to bond to wood (and other materials) and to hold screws when hardened. Wood filler doesn't stain well but is easy to hide with paint.
- "Complete Photo Guide to Home Repair;" Creative Publishing international; 2008