If you just managed to extract a damaged screw and are wondering what to do next, you’re in the right place.
You could, theoretically, just take a new screw and put it in the same hole that you took the damaged one out of. However, I don’t recommend doing that, as the screw might not hold as tightly as it should.
Instead, I recommend you to fix the stripped screw hole first using one of the techniques below.
6 Techniques to Fix Stripped Screw Holes
While some of the methods described below require specialized materials, others are “MacGyver-style” quick fixes. And then, there are those that are somewhere in between.
1. Using a Screw Hole Repair Kit
Last but not least, you can simply use hardware that was designed for the specific purpose – a screw hole repair kit.
While there are several products in this category, they are generally either plastic pieces similar to wall plugs or thin pieces of a material that you use to create a gripping surface for your new screw.
One of the most popular such products is the Woodmate Mr. Grip Screw Hole Repair Kit. It essentially consists of thin metal strips that you cut to the required size and insert into the hole before putting in a new screw.
If you work with screws often – especially so if you tend to damage them on a regular basis no matter how hard you try – you might benefit from having such a kit handy at all times.
2. Using Larger Screws
One of the easiest ways to deal with putting a screw in an existing screw-hole is to simply use a larger screw. That can mean either a screw with a larger diameter or a longer screw.
If you use a “wider” screw, it will be able to grip onto the material around it in spite of the existing hole. On the other hand, if you use a longer screw, it will be able to grip onto the material that the previous screw didn’t reach and thus didn’t damage.
This is a good technique for cases where esthetics don’t matter, for applications where the screws will be hidden from view in one way or another. The reason for that is that it will look odd to have only one screw larger than all of the other ones in the same area of the workpiece.
3. Using Toothpicks or Matches
If you don’t work with tools and hardware a lot, you might not have some of the materials necessary for using the other methods mentioned in this list. However, chances are you will have some toothpicks or wooden matches lying somewhere around your house.
You can take those, fill the screw-hole with them, and cut them off flush with your workpiece. Ideally, you would also add some wood glue. If you are using matches, don’t forget to cut their heads off.
While this is a fairly common way of fixing screw holes, you should avoid it for professional or structural applications. In the case of the former, it looks amateurish. In the case of the latter, it might not provide the necessary strength.
Chances are also – in terms of longevity – that the filling will disintegrate sooner than your workpiece.
Especially so if you are using this method in combination with plastic or metal.
4. Using Pieces of Wood
This method is similar to the one above. But, it looks more professional and will last longer.
Rather than using toothpicks or matches – which tend to be made out of low-quality wood – to fill the holes, it uses the type of wood you are actually working with.
Simply take a spare board, cut it into thin pieces about as long as your hole is deep, and fill the hole with them. Once again, use wood glue if you have a bottle handy.
Since you are using the same material as your workpiece is made out of, you can expect the screw to stay steady for about as long as the other screws in your workpiece will.
5. Using Wood Dowels
You can also use wood dowels – like those that you would find in a set of Ikea furniture – to fix damaged screw holes.
Unlike the previous methods, this method involves drilling a hole into your workpiece that is larger than the diameter of your screw. More specifically, it requires drilling a hole that’s roughly the same diameter as the dowel you plan to use.
Once you drill the hole, you simply take the dowel, tap it in – with some wood glue applied if possible – and cut it flush with your workpiece.
Now you have a brand new wooden surface to put your screw into.
Avoid using a dowel with a diameter larger than the diameter of the head of the screw you are using if possible. Otherwise, you will have the dowel sticking around the screw once you screw it back in. And so, it will not look too good.
6. Using Plastic Wall Plugs
If you are screwing into a piece of concrete, then you are already likely using a plastic wall plug. And so, you simply have to take that one out and replace it with a new one.
However, you can also use the plastic screw with other materials.
Just like when using wood dowels, though, this method will involve drilling.
The good point is, though, that the plastic plug will last longer than the wood dowel (if longevity is important for your application).
The plug will likely also have a smaller diameter than a dowel that you would use. And so, chances are the result might also be a bit nicer to look at.
Fixing Stripped Screw Holes in Specific Materials
Many of the methods I talked about above can be used regardless of the material that you are screwing into. However, some methods are better for certain applications than others.
Let’s take a closer look at that.
How to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole in Wood
If you stripped a wood screw and are trying to fill the hole, your best bet will be either using pieces of the same wood you are working with or drilling in a dowel.
That said, pretty much any of the methods above will work fairly well.
One thing to note, though, is that if you are working with particle boards or similar (a material that is often used in wood cabinets and other furniture), you want to be careful about using screws that are larger than the original one. These boards are fairly prone to breaking, and so you will want to stick to the original screw size as much as possible.
How to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole in Metal
If you are trying to repair a stripped screw hole in a piece of metal, then – quite logically – avoid using wood if possible.
Instead, use a plastic wall plug if you can find a size that will work for you or get a stripped screw hole repair kit that specifically states it will work with metal. The Woodmate kit that I talked about earlier works well in this situation.
How to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole in Plastic
Finally, in case your screw got damaged when working with a piece of plastic, avoid using wood as well.
You can try gluing in a plastic wall plug, but – just as with metal – you will be better off using a specialized repair kit.
All in all, while stripping a screw can be a frustrating experience, it is not something that you should stress about too much. The above should be enough to get you started, but if you want to learn more make sure to also check out my article about fixing a screw hole that is too large.
With the right tools to extract the screw and the right techniques to make the screw hole usable again in your arsenal, you should be able to deal with the problem fairly easily.
That’s especially the case if you are working with wood since there are many ways to fix a stripped screw hole in a piece of wood. If your workpiece is made out of metal or plastic, then you will be better off getting a specialized stripped screw hole repair kit.