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I see knobs like this on cabinets, dressers, and closet doors. They are held in place with a single wood screw. knob

Very often they are loose. I guess when we grab them we often impart a slight twist. Also, temperature and humidity changes cause the wood to swell and shrink. The system is biased towards unscrewing, so over time they loosen up.

My DIY instinct says that this is bad. That the screw will strip out the knob, or it will ream out the hole in the door. Well, it seems sloppy.

When I notice one, I give it a twist to tighten. Sometimes I put my finger over the screw head to hold it still. When it's really stiff, I might get out the multitool. Sometimes, in my enthusiasm, I strip out the knob. Doh!

What's the best way to deal with these things? For example:

  • Use handles that take two screws.

  • Put a washer under the head to distribute the load, then make them really tight.

  • Keep them all tight according to a schedule.

  • Only use knobs made of strong wood, and keep them tight.

  • Use knobs that take a machine screw instead of a wood screw.

  • Put wood glue in the screw hole.

  • Use door designs that don't need a handle.

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I think you mean "machine screws" instead of "wood screws"? All of the handles like that that I run into have been machine screws (small fine pitch thread rather than very coarse). – Sean Reifschneider Dec 6 '10 at 7:23
up vote 11 down vote accepted

I'd recommend going with a metal knob that's held in place by a machine screw. They're going to cost more, but they won't get damaged from everyday use, and you don't have to worry about them stripping out. Most of the knobs in my house are metal and take machine screws. I do have to periodically re-tighten them though. Some Blue Loctite might take care of it, but I've never taken the time to address the issue.

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Loctite is the way to go. I did this in our kitchen in a fit of pique and it fixed everything. Make sure the handle's wood is still in good condition first, however. (You can use superglue as a hack to firm up the wood if it's gotten squishy.) – Alex Feinman Dec 2 '10 at 19:01

I've used teflon tape, normally used by plumbers; on knobs when the threads are stripped. It can work pretty well. Just don't expect to remove the knob without a pair of strong wrenches.

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I have knobs with machine screws (notably on bi-fold doors), and still have the same problem. Personally I would recommend putting a dab of epoxy on the screw threads and screwing it into the knob. Of course that will make it pretty difficult to remove them later though if you ever want to replace the hardware.

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Most threadlockers like Loctite are removable with hand tools, with the exception of red Loctite - you need heat for that one. – Doresoom Nov 30 '10 at 19:04
I agree with Doresoom: Use the right tool for the job, keep some loctite around. – Sean Reifschneider Dec 6 '10 at 7:25

Put a lockwasher between the nut and a regular washer (inside the door). Or use a Locknut and a regular washer. enter image description here enter image description here

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Ben Welborn's lock washers are nice. When things get problematic, I move on to Loctite Blue 242 Threadlocker. It's easier to deal with than dried on nail polish or epoxy.

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