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How To Fix Stripped Out Wood Screws

Posted by Eli

Here is a trick for fixing stripped out wood screws.  In this example the screws are holding one side of a hinge. Sometimes you can just use a longer screw, and in those situations that would be easiest.  But sometimes you need the screw to match, like in this example where the screws need to match the color of the hinge and the size of the holes in the hinge.  You may not be able to find a longer screw that matches.  It also needs to match all the other screws used on this cabinet.

Stripped out hinge screws

You might also be limited by the thickness of the material that the screw goes into, preventing you from using a longer screw.  For example, if you have a ¾” board that the screws go into and you can’t use a longer screw because it will stick out the other side of the board.  We will show you what you need to do to fix the hole so it will work with the same screws.

Things you will need:

  • Wooden toothpicks
  • Wood glue
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Razor knife

Take the screws out of the stripped out holes. In this example we have taken the cupboard door completely off so we can take it to a workbench to work on it. What we are going to do is fill the hole with toothpicks to replace the wood that has been stripped out of the holes. Some people use match sticks but they are often too soft. We prefer tooth picks because they are usually made from a harder wood. If the toothpicks are tapered at one end you want to use the smaller end in the hole. Use as many toothpicks as you can easily start into the hole. Once you have figured out how many you need by sticking them into the hole, take them out and get them even so the ends are all lined up. Put a couple drops of wood glue around the end of the bundle of toothpicks.

tooth picks and wood glue to fix stripped hinge screws

Insert the toothpicks into the hole and tap gently with a hammer.  You don’t need to pound them in tight but you want them snug enough that you can’t easily pull them out.  They may be a little loose in the hole at the surface of the wood but snug on the inside.  Remember that the screws are tapered so the toothpicks will be tighter at the bottom of the hole than at the surface of the wood.

toothpicks in stripped screw hole

Now cut the bundles of toothpicks off flush with the wood surface using a very sharp razor knife.  Be careful to cut them nice and flush because if they stick out they may hold out whatever the screw is holding.  In this example we are working with hinges.  If the hinges are held out by the toothpicks then the cupboard door may not shut straight

cut off tooth picks in stripped screw holes

You are now ready to put the screws back in.  Try to start the screws in the center of the bundles of toothpicks.  As you install the screws, they will push the toothpicks tight against the existing wood.  The pressure will hold the toothpicks in place and fill the stripped out holes.  We also used wood glue so when it dries the toothpicks will be glued to the existing wood and to each other making a very strong repair. If you don't have glue you can do this repair without it. We recommend using a screw driver and starting the screws by hand and not with a drill or screw gun. Tighten the screws snug but don't over tighten them. If you need to get them really tight you should wait until the glue sets up first.

Replace screws in fixed holes

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