Do It Yourself: How To Tighten A Loose Screw

A loose screw can be annoying, and damaging to woodwork. Repair it quickly and easily with these tips.

Do you have a hinge that is loose? Perhaps it's a wobbly drawer pull, or some other place where a loose screw makes you life less convenient. Fix it yourself with a few basic items you probably have around the house.

A loose screw in wood is caused by damage to the wood so that the threads of the screw can no longer bite into it and hold the screw in place. To repair it, you need to allow those threads to find something to grip.

A larger screw - The first and easiest answer is to replace the loose screw with a longer one. If the wood into which the screw is driven is deep, a longer screw will bite into fresh wood, and hold the screw in place. If this is not possible, you may be able to substitute a wider screw, which will fill the hole left by the old one. This allows the threads on the new, wider screw, to find purchase.

Paper matches - A quick fix, for a temporary situation, is to insert a couple of paper matches into the screw hole and drive the screw back in. Often the cardboard of the matchsticks will take up enough room to make the screw hold. (Be sure to cut the heads off these matches, for safety reasons).

Wire Ties - You can use wire ties or cable ties in this situation also. They are more durable than paper match sticks.

Steel Wool - Fine steel wool can be packed into the hole, if you have some handy. Again, this is a temporary repair, but it will take up some of that extra space, and help the screw to hold for a while.



Toothpicks - A better repair is accomplished by filling the hole with wood glue, or white household glue and toothpicks. Allow the glue to dry and trim off any protruding pieces of toothpick. Use an awl, a nail, or a small drill to make a pilot hole, and drive your screw back in. It should hold securely.

Golf Tee- A golf tee can also be used to fill the stripped hole. Coat the tee with glue, and drive it into the hole. When the glue is dry, cut off the top of the tee flush with the surface of the wood. Drill a small pilot hole in the tee, and drive in your screw.

Chopstick - A chopstick from a Chinese restaurant can also be used to fill a stripped screw hole, if it is the correct size.

Glue - Wood glue alone can sometimes fix a loose screw, if the screw isn't very loose, and you are sure you will never want to take that screw out in the future. Take the screw out of the hole, and fill the hole with a good wood glue. Drive the screw back in, and clamp or block the area so that the screw is held tightly in place. Allow the glue to dry overnight. The screw will be solid, at least as long as the glue lasts.

Wood Filler - Home improvement stores sell wood fillers. You can use these, like glue, to set a screw, if you are sure you will never want that screw out again. If the screw hole is badly damaged, you may wish to fill the area with wood filler. Wait for the product to dry and the set your screw. Wood filler will not hold as well, or as long as real wood, but if your loose screw holds something small and light, it may work.

Dowels - If the wood is really damaged, you may need to make a larger repair. With a drill, drill out a hole, larger than the stripped screw hole. Using a dowel the same size as the hole you have just drilled, coat the end of the dowel with wood glue and drive it in to the newly drilled hole. It should fit tightly. Trim it off, and allow the glue to dry. You can now drill new pilot holes and sink your screws just as you would in new wood.

A loose screw can make your life more difficult, and gets worse over time as the wood fibers break down. Fixing it is an easy project, which preserves your wood doors, furniture or cabinetry.

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