In the majority of cases, when the screw isn’t able to hold on to the wood joint or any other joint for that matter, it usually means that the hole has been stripped. Usually, this issue is caused because the wood fibers around the head of the screw have been torn away. Screw joints can hold things together because of how they are wedged within the fibers of the wood, but if the holes or the fibers in the holes are broken owing to stress, then the fibers will not hold or connect.
Screw holes will wear off more often in areas where the joints are moving more often or when an extensively heavy load is placed on the joint. In fact, this can happen on just about any joint where there are screws used but will more commonly occur where the hinges tend to be fastened to the frame and doors. That’s why you’ll notice the screws on hinges on entry doors, cabinet doors, and chest lids fall off or become loose screws. This is caused by the stress of constantly opening and closing the door, sometimes hundreds of times a year.
You can also strip the wood if there is too much force on the screw when it is installed. For instance, if the screw has been overtightened, it is possible that the thread will break from the wood instead of forming a wedge between the fibers. Also, if the joint is under pressure, the wood can be torn out.
Regardless of why your screw holes have been torn, we offer five different solutions to addressing the issue. Fortunately, most of the solutions we go over below are easy and don’t require special equipment.
Use A Bigger Screw
Yes, we admit that this is a common-sense fix and most people reading this article have used it. Replace the stripped-out screw with one that’s slightly longer and has a large diameter. A great solution would be the Fringe Screw. However, make sure you use a screw with either the same tread pattern as the previous or old screw, or the threads are more aggressive. Coarser and more aggressive patterns have fewer threads per pitch or TPI, as it is called. The coarser threads make it possible for the new screw to easily bite into the wood, which allows it to hold firm.
However, you want to make sure not to use a screw that’s too large because in doing so, you might split the wood. In our experience, maybe go up a size or two gauges with a new screw. Also, don’t use too much force when driving in the screw, or this too may strip the wood again.
Use A Screw Repair Kit
We’ve seen many manufacturers now offer screw repair kits, most of which are sold online. The kits consist of plastic anchors and some glue. You need to glue the anchors inside the hole to provide a surface for the screw heads to hold on to when driven in. The kits are relatively cheap, simple to use, and lightweight, but they aren’t the best choice for many situations. Furthermore, most people will feel they are better off trying a free DIY fix first.
Fill and Redrive the Screw
Now, consider for a second that you’re stuck in a situation where driving a larger screw isn’t an option, then the next best thing to do is fill the screw hole. You can do this using tiny strips of wood and then try re-driving the screw in.
The way we advise you do this is to cut a few thin strips or using shavings from scrap wood. Dip those strips into some wood glue, and then insert them into the hole. Then tap with a hammer until the hole has been filled. You then wait a couple of hours for the glue to dry.
You then trim the strips, sand the area and try inserting the screw back in. You might need to drill a small pilot hole at first.
Use a Hardwood Plug
We know that there are situations where using a stick fill isn’t going to cut it. Usually, MDF and particleboards are susceptible to stripped screw holes, mainly because of how they are made. The products are made from particles of wood that are bonded together using resin and glue. Consequently, they will break and tear if the screwed joints are stressed. That’s why your standard DIY stick filler isn’t going to work. Most other easy fixes aren’t going to work either because a heavy door will cause the hinge screws to strip from the edge.
When faced with this issue, we recommend using the repair method. The method involves drilling out screw holes using ½ inch bit. You then fill the hole with a glued ½ inch plug or sold wood dowel. Most shops have hardwood plugs, and they are relatively inexpensive.
Allow the glue to cure, then drill a small hole or a pilot hole in the center of the plug before you start driving in the new screw. If you see that the area is broken, you will want to glue it back together before using the plug repair method.
Hopefully, these fixes should help address most problems you face with a stripped screw hole. However, always consult a professional if you need more help or are not comfortable using any of the methods discussed above.