Saturday, July 09, 2005

Stripped Screw Hole Repair 101

The top half of the Frankenstein Hutch was originally part of a wall that was added to the kitchen to separate the kitchen from the newly added bath (ca. 1926). Actually, it is more correct to say that it was originally part of a built-in that was probably between a butler’s pantry and a dining room. There are doors on both sides and the drawers move all the way through so they can be opened on bath sides. It then ended up in the wall that separated the bathroom and kitchen. I then rescued it from the wall and am reusing it as part of the hutch. Got it? Good.

Over the years the screws became stripped out on the hutch side of the hinges and larger and larger screws where put in. Because the hutch was surrounded by framing at the time (see picture below) they could do this no-problem. Eventually some screws where replaced by nails.

This is a view of that same area today. The wall is gone.

Once the hutch was rescued from the wall I needed to repair these stripped screw holes. I’ve used this method for more than a half dozen hinges and it works very well.

First you get a 5/16-inch oak dowel. They come in 3-foot lengths and cost about a dollar. Cut short lengths anywhere from ½-inch to 1.5-inches depending on the size of the hinge screw you will be using.

Next use a 5/16-inch drill bit to drill out the stripped screw holes. The dowels will be a tight fit so be sure to sand off any burrs from both the dowels and the newly drilled hole.

Then cover the sides of the dowel in wood glue and push them into the holes. You want to make sure that the hole is slightly deeper than the length of the dowel. It should be a flush fit or the hinge won’t seat right.

For a large door hinge you will need to hammer the dowel in to the hole. Many gentle taps is better than 1 or 2 hard swings with the hammer. Above all, do no harm. For this hutch I used a pair of channel-lock pliers with a piece of scrap wood as a backer to force the dowels in to the hole.

Then just let the glue dry over night and the repair will be as good as new. Be sure to pre-drill all holes for the new screws, and hand-tighten all screws. You don’t want to risk re-stripping the hole with an over-powered drill with a screwdriver attachment.

I would like to take this opportunity to renew my objection to chemical paint strippers. What has taken 3 hours with the chemical paint strippers would have taken me about 45 minutes with the heat gun. I could have saved $10.00 and had much less frustration with the heat gun. The heat gun is faster, the results are better, and the clean-up is effortless. Next time I will risk the glass and use the heat gun.


Jocelyn said...

Greg- I recommend purchasing some heat shields. They are metal on one side and heat absorbing insulation on the other. We got some at a local plumbing supply house. If you want the company name or anything, just let me know. I have used them with glass, with success.

I am with you on the stripper thing. It's sooo messy as well.

Greg said...

Heat Shields!!! Of course!! I actually have one, although it is in pretty rough shape. I put in all new copper last year (Or was in the year before. Its all becoming a blur) and I used it then so I wouldn't burn the house down. I contemplated a damp washcloth that was chilled in the fridge and then a piece of cardboard on top or something.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for making the post on filling stripped wood screw holes. It worked beautifully to allow me to adjust back the hinges on door that was squeeking and not closing easily against the doorway trim. I was at a loss how to deal with the existing holes and yet move the screws over a nudge. Your solution with pictures made my day!


Greg said...


Glad it helped. This has proven to be a very popular post. It gets Googled many times a week.

Andrea said...

Fritan Technology has a product called Fringe Screw that can be used as an alternative repair for loose or stripped door hinge screws. It features a standard size #9 head and oversize threads. This allows the screw to sit flush in the door hinge but also embed in the enlarged screw hole, resulting in a tight, sturdy door.