how to fix loose screws video screenshot

Here are three ways to repair or replace wood screws that are loose. Wood screws can work loose over time. Most often wood screws get loose because of excess stress over time or because the material they are driven into does not have the strength to hold the screws.

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How To Fix Loose Screws - Video Transcript

Chris Marshal: When wood screws get over tightened or overstressed like those on this hinge, they can damage the holes that they're threaded into. You know how it goes, the holes get too wide, so the screws won't tighten up any more. It seems to happen most often with hinge and other hardware screws, but it's also a very common problem when screws are threaded into composite materials like particle board, which isn't very strong stuff to begin with. In these situations, how do you repair loose screws that just won't tighten up? Well, I'm going to show you three simple repair options you can try.

Now, this first one is a pretty common example, loose screws on the hinges of a passage door, and this particular door happens to be made out of MDF which doesn't have a grain structure to it, so it doesn't hold screws very well anyway. To make matters worse, these hinge screws are pretty short, but in a case like this, the fix couldn't be easier. Even though these hinge screws are too short to hold very well, this door has a wide style here that can definitely accept longer screws. So the easy fix, just install longer screws of the same gauge.

I'm replacing these #8 screws that are only 3/4 of an inch long with some #8 screws that are two inches long, problem solved, but be sure to drill longer pilot holes for the new screws first. Here's another repair option, here I've got an antique cabinet door, again, with some loose hinge screws. Now, here's the original hinge screw. I could just go with longer screws like I did for the passage door, or I could go with some slightly larger diameter screws like this and go that route instead. Sometimes going up a gauge or two in screw size will do the trick because the larger screw will cut new threads in the wood, but because this is an antique cabinet door, I want to reuse these original screws again.

The fix this time will be to fill those screw holes with some form of convenient wood product, and then start over again with the same screws. Now, you've got lots of easy common options for filling old screw holes; you can use round toothpicks, stick matches, wooden golf tees, or even chopsticks, any of these can work. I just used one with a diameter that comes closest to the screw size I need to fill. Here, for these small holes, I'll use matchsticks with some glue on them. Push them in and trim the excess off flush. Then drill pilot holes and thread the old screws back in. A little paste wax helps to make them easier to drive into place.

If you've worked with particle board, you probably already know that it doesn't hold screws very well. The threads crumble in this soft material especially if you overdrive the screw, but there's a sturdy fix for loose screws in particle board. You can use a dowel for better holding power, just drill the screw hole completely out using a drill bit that matches the size of the dowel you have on hand. I'm using a doweling jig here to help keep my drill bit from wandering. Then fill the hole with a piece of dowel and plenty of adhesive, and tap it down into place.

Now you can go ahead and reassemble the joint. Just remember to drill a new pilot hole for the screw. The dowel is going to give you much stronger threads for the screw this time.

So, remember these options the next time you need to repair a project with loose screws. They're quick, easy, and permanent solutions. I'm Chris Marshal with Woodworker's Journal magazine, and thanks for watching.