How to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole with Toothpicks?

The issue of a stripped screw pops up all the time if you’re into DIY and home improvement. Stripped screw holes happen often in locations where there is a lot of wear and tear or repetitive motion, as the screw’s threads will come loose from the wood fibers over time.

Whether you’re dealing with a loose hinge on a door, refinishing an old cabinet, or a simple overdriven screw, the toothpick method will work well as a fast and efficient DIY repair.

There are a few different variations of this method, but each one uses the same basic principle to get the job done. I’ll break down how to fix a stripped screw hole with toothpicks so you can get that screw fastened in a hurry.

Tools & Materials

  • Toothpicks, matchsticks, or wood skewers
  • Wood glue
  • Hammer
  • Drill or screwdriver

How to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole with Toothpicks – Guide

Step 1: Remove Screw and Determine Hole Size

First off, remove the screw from the stripped screw hole and examine the hole. You’ll want to fill the screw hole as completely as possible, so poke a toothpick inside the hole to determine the hole’s length.

Insert as many toothpicks as you can into the hole to determine how many you’ll need to fill the hole completely.

inserting toothpick in the screw hole
Testing the fit.

If you don’t happen to have any toothpicks on hand, you can also use wood BBQ skewers, or even wooden matchsticks, although matchsticks aren’t as great as they’re made of less durable wood.

Step 2: Apply Glue and Insert Toothpicks

Next, apply a few drops of wood glue to the exterior of your toothpick bundle and insert it into your hole. Push your toothpicks in as far as they will go, and then tap them all the way in with a hammer.

wood skewer with wood glue applied
Wood glue applied.

If you don’t have any glue, then you can still do the repair without it, but it won’t be quite as durable.

You’ll probably be left with some length of toothpicks sticking out of your screw hole. Use a small knife or saw to cut these down so their flush with the surface of your workpiece.

Step 3: Allow the Glue to Dry

Next, you’ll want to let the wood glue dry completely. This should take about an hour, but consult the instructions on the back of your wood glue to make sure.

Step 4: Drive the Screw(s)

Now you’re ready to drive your screw or screws back into the old screw holes. Center the screw in the middle of toothpicks and drive it into place using a screwdriver to start.

fastening screw
Fastening the screw.

This can be a little tricky to do with a drill, especially getting it started, but once it’s centered and partially driven into place you can finish fastening it with a power drill.

Denis Gardner

I've loved tinkering and fixing things for as long as I can remember. So, naturally, I gravitated towards DIY and home improvement when I bought my first home. Nowadays you can find me writing about my passions or messing around with my newest tool!

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