How to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole

Updated: Oct. 17, 2023

Stripped screw hole? It happens. Repair it quickly using toothpicks and glue.

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Time

1 - 2 hours

Complexity

Beginner

Cost

Less than $10

Introduction

Most often, a screw won't tighten because the hole is stripped. If this happens, here's how to repair it

Tools Required

  • Chisel
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver

Materials Required

  • Shop towels
  • Toothpicks
  • Wood glue

It can be frustrating when you’re trying to adjust a door on old furniture or an entry door hinge, but the screw just keeps spinning without tightening. The screw hole is stripped! This can occur when a hinge or joint is put under a lot of weight, or used frequently.

The good news? There’s usually an easy fix, depending on the location of the hole.

You can go with a longer or wider screw if there’s enough material around it. Or you can fill in the hole with wood so the screw has something to grab onto.

Screw repair kits, available in home stores, usually involve filling the hole with a wood anchor. Here’s a fast furniture fix to fill in a stripped screw hole. All you need are some toothpicks and wood glue.

Project step-by-step (6)

Step 1

Extract the screw

Remove the screw from the stripped hole with the appropriate type of screwdriver.

Removing the screw with ScrewdriverTMB Studio

Step 2

Apply glue to toothpicks

Insert a few toothpicks into the hole, noting how many are required to achieve a tight fit. Then apply wood glue to the toothpicks.

Apply glue to toothpicksTMB Studio

Step 3

Insert toothpicks

Push the toothpicks into the stripped hole. Make sure they fill in the hole completely. Add more if needed.

Inserting toothpicks into a hole in wooden cabinetTMB Studio

Step 4

Break off toothpicks

Once the glue dries (allow the time recommended on the packaging), break off the toothpicks as close as you can to the opening of the hole with a chisel and hammer.

Breaking off toothpicks with a chisel and hammerTMB Studio

Step 5

Re-fasten the screw

Now that there’s adequate wood to work with, grab your screwdriver and drive the screw back into place.

fastening the screw with a screwdriverTMB Studio

Step 6

Can you use just fill the stripped screw hole with wood glue?

No. That’s not good enough.

Wood glue only bonds wood pieces together. Most wood glues are brittle and may not provide enough strength to secure the screw, especially when the object is moved or pressure is applied.

If you don’t have any toothpicks, substitute other common thin wood objects like dowels, matchsticks or kebab skewers.