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I'm trying to repair a piece of furniture from which several screws have pulled out, stripping the wood. It's a lift top coffee table, such as this. (This is NOT the model in question, this just seems like a good picture to explain the idea.)

lift top coffee table

The screws in question mount one side of the lift mechanism to the table body. What concerns me is the lift frame mounts underneath the cross-member of the table; so the screws go upward through the metal frame into wood. So... Any fix will have to support half the weight of the table surface. The cross-member the screws go into is about 1" thick, so longer screws won't work; they'd hit the underside of the table surface when it was lowered.

I've looked at How do I rehang a wooden door with worn screw holes? for ideas; and I'm concerned these ideas won't work for me considering the direction of force and required shortness of screws. So, I'm first asking how much weight a toothpick repair solution could support. Am I being pessimistic?

What other ways can I repair this table? I can't simply re-mount the lift assembly shifted 1"; the table would look strange when closed. I've thought about drilling through the cross-member and replacing the screws with bolts; but I would also need to drill/chisel pockets in the underside of the table surface to allow the table to close over the bolt heads. Is there a less invasive solution?

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A picture of the underside of the table would help. My thoughts are going to glue, drilling new holes through the mechanism, adding cross-bracing/a new supporting structure underneath... but it's hard to really suggest something without seeing it. It's one thing to just reattach, but I'd say the fact it's broken now means you need to attach it better than it was before. – gregmac Aug 31 '11 at 5:17
up vote 4 down vote accepted

You took the wind out of my sails with that last paragraph. I was going to suggest using a nut/bolt.

As far as it causing problems when the tabletop is lowered, you can recess the bolt head. Yeah, you could make the cavity in which the bolt will stay on the underside of the tabletop, but maybe you'll drill too far or crack/scratch the tabletop if you chisel it out. It could end badly... which is why you should instead house the bolt head on the top-side of the cross member.

enter image description here

Brown = table top
Black = underlying cross member

The one on the left is what you were talking about. The one on the right is what you want to do.

Also, use a washer under the bolt head, etc.

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+1. Pick up a countersink bit from the local hardware store, and start drilling. – Tester101 Aug 31 '11 at 12:26
Thank you for suggesting counter-sinking! I don't know why I was focusing on notching the table surface... This was much easier, and worked perfectly! – Scivitri Sep 6 '11 at 21:30

Although similar to the tooth pick trick, a real good and solid fix it to drill out the stripped hole to a size 1/32 inch smaller than a piece of hardwood dowel. Apply a good wood glue to the dowel and tap it into the clean drilled out hole. After the glue has dried, flush cut and sand the dowel smooth to the wood surface. Now drill a small pilot hole and re-install your screws. This should give you a strong permanent fix.

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While still being a great way to repair the wood screws are going into, this still left me with the feeling the glue would be a major weak point. More so with clean drilled hole surfaces meeting smooth dowel sides. – Scivitri Sep 6 '11 at 21:32
A good glue joint will be at least as strong as the wood itself - if you've ever broken down any furniture that was glued together, you may have noticed that the joints broke in the wood, not separating at the glued joint itself. – Johnny Feb 11 '15 at 2:48

Put the screws in with construction adhesive like PL Premium or a "5 minute epoxy" type superglue. You obviously will no longer be able to unscrew these screws, but they will never, ever come loose again.

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