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Two of the screw holes on the doorframe of a bedroom in my house are completely stripped out, to fill them in I soaked small strips of paper towel in wood glue and carefully stuffed them deep until the hole was evenly filled. I made sure they where heavily saturated so the majority of volume is just wood glue, and I stuffed them evenly so the paper towel was not crammed at the bottom. It's drying now and looks good.

My thinking is that as long as the majority of volume is woodglue, and paper towel is just a carrier, this will be solid. After impulsively doing this without verifying if it works or not, I looked up common ways to do this and saw someone mix sawdust and wood glue. It looked as if their mixture used less glue than my concoction, which seems promising for me.

Can I expect my experiment here to last or should I prepare for a dehinged door in the coming days or months?

  • If it ends up falling apart: I've had good results using Mollybolt fasteners to repair large stripped out holes in doorframes. They are designed for [soft] drywall, but work even better installed in a stronger surface like a door frame. – Eric Seastrand Feb 13 at 20:29
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    My preferred approach is to find a piece of scrap wood, chop at it to get an appropriately-sized splinter, then whittle the splinter down to fit the hole. Glue it up and tap it in with moderate force, then saw off flush when the glue has set. – Hot Licks Feb 13 at 23:03
  • Some good answers, the only thing no-one seems to have mentioned is the grain of the wood. For example, drilling holes across the grain is fine. Drilling holes into the end grain is doomed to fail because the screw snaps off 'tubes' of wood rather than wedging sideways into a tube (it's handy to think of wood grains like parallel tubes). For that reason I tend to lean towards epoxy resin. All the others do depend on what the grain of the inserted wood is doing, and with dowels for example the grain usually tends to run end to end, so you'd be drilling into endgrain. – Ben McIntyre Feb 16 at 8:27

10 Answers 10

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Paper towels and glue are both relatively weak. The best thing is wood plus glue. Fortunately most of us have some right sized pieces of wood handy in the kitchen:

Toothpicks

Clean the hole. Put in some glue. Stuff the hole with toothpicks (possibly dipped first in glue - depends on how big the hole is and how much glue oozes out as you stuff in the toothpicks). Cut off the ends sticking out of the hole. Let dry.

It is also a good idea to use longer screws if you can. But match the head of the existing screws so that the screws match the holes in the hinges.

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    The tooth pick idea is a workable one but it can be a good idea to additionally smear some of the wood glue on each one before stuffing it into the hole. Especially for the last ones you press in to complete the hole fill. – Michael Karas Feb 13 at 20:45
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    @AndyT Does it sound better to call them cocktail sticks? – Andrew Morton Feb 14 at 9:52
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    Matchsticks also work well. Just make sure you break the striking end off first! – kaybee99 Feb 14 at 10:40
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    @AndrewMorton - Oh... yeah. That's a good point - I do have those in my kitchen and they're pretty much the same thing! – AndyT Feb 14 at 11:31
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    @kaybee99 Matchsticks are often dipped in wax which may need to be removed before the glue properly adheres. – ratchet freak Feb 14 at 13:46
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You method was not really a good solution because, like others have said, glue is relatively weak by itself. You need some 'meat' to properly hold the screws. But it may continue to hold because there are other screws left in the wood to hold the hinges. If you have lots of screw holes stripped then you would be in trouble.

The toothpicks method outlined in another answer works well enough for a quick fix if the holes are mildly stripped, but I prefer to bore out the screw holes cleanly and then plug them by gluing in doweling of the same size. Then trim the dowels off flush and drill new pilot holes using the hinge as a template. This method gives you fresh wood to put screws into. It also prevents the screws from going in all crooked and not sitting nicely in the countersunk holes in the hinge. That can happen in stripped holes even using the toothpick method.

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Good answer: keep 'em coming! – Daniel Griscom Feb 13 at 23:34
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I like @manassehkatz's answer. Here's what we did recently in order to increase the wood-to-glue ratio.

  1. Get a wooden golf tee.
  2. Apply a generous drop of wood glue to the pointy end of the tee. Seat the tea in the hole.
  3. Hammer it in! You have to be careful with this as it's really easy to knock the head off the tee. Keep it intact as far as you can, and then flatten it out with your hammer.
  4. Trim off any remaining golf tee with a chisel or oscillating tool.

This seems to provide a really solid repair. Of course, allow the glue to dry before drilling and adding screws.

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    Do you mean nail with nails? Or do you mean hammer, which you normally do with nails but in this case hammer the golf tee as if it was a nail? – manassehkatz-Reinstate Monica Feb 13 at 19:18
  • Golf tees are usually painted, which can reduce the glue bond. Otherwise, good idea. – isherwood Feb 13 at 19:28
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    This is the way I do it, more or less. Instead of a golf tee, I use a hardwood dowel (a few bucks at the local hardware store) and put a point on it using a knife or pencil sharpener. My experience is that you don't need to wait to to drill a hole and put screw in. – JimmyJames Feb 13 at 19:28
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    @manassehkatz, good question. I hammered the golf tee in as if it were a nail, rather than adding metal nails. The original answer should say "hammer it in", not "nail it in". – royal Feb 14 at 16:05
  • The problem with "hammer it in" methods is that many door jambs are made from thin sections of relatively weak wood species. Golf tees are wedge-shaped, they get wider at the top. A hammered in golf tee (or dowel with the end tapered) can easily cause the wood to split which leads to a bigger and much harder to repair problem. You really don't need to wedge anything in, a straight dowel of the correct size is fine when glued in. – dwizum Feb 15 at 12:51
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It'll probably work fine, but your thinking is a bit backward. The glue is the carrier, and it secures wood fibers, which are really what will hold your screw.

If you find that the glue is too soft to hold a screw, drill it out and try again, but this time coat some toothpicks with glue and jam a bunch of them in the hole. Once the glue is dry, cut or grind off the excess wood.

Alternatively, run longer screws all the way into the framing behind the jamb. Just don't pull the hinges so tight that you move the jamb. All-thread screws help prevent this.

  • Great to hear thank you! I was under the impression wood glue would dry into something I could confidently drive a screw into. It sounds like its possible but not ideal. If it is sturdy enough can I expect it to adhere to the wood, or might it pop out over time? I don't think the paper towel itself will be an issue as it was mostly glue going into the hole. The bottle said "stronger than wood" I assumed it would be perfect. I read about toothpicks after the fact, I will definitely do that if I have problems. – Jared L. Feb 13 at 19:40
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    When they say stronger than wood that means two pieces of wood glued together will have a joint stronger than the wood so that if you try to pull them apart the wood will be more likely to break than the glued joint. But glue by itself isn't that strong. – manassehkatz-Reinstate Monica Feb 13 at 19:53
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    Glued joints are strongest when the layer of glue is thin. Ideally, you prepare the surfaces to be smooth and flat so it takes the minimum amount of glue to fill up the gaps. A "big lump" of glue is usually either hard and brittle like glass, or soft like rubber, depending on the type of glue. – alephzero Feb 13 at 21:19
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A thick coating of wood glue might have difficulties curing, especially in deep holes. Two-part epoxy wouldn't have this issue and shouldn't cost much for small applications.

Update: So instead of using bits of wood (or what ever) and wood glue I'd recommend to use bits of wood and epoxy. And be sure to let the epoxy cure before screwing anything in or they'll get super stuck.

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    Epoxy and sawdust. The sawdust will thicken the epoxy so it doesn't run out of the hole, and if you pack it in well (using toothpicks or similar) it will soak into the surrounding wood and make a really secure bond. – Colin Young Feb 14 at 15:29
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I had exactly the same problem with my doors. I have tried filling glue and paper in the past, and found that after not too long, they were pulled out again.

To solve it permanently, I drilled out the holes to 6mm, and hammered in some 6mm wooden dowels with a sliver of wood glue surrounding them.

That gave a very solid material to screw the hinges back into.

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Several good answers in general, but one should try to realize that the interior door jamb is only about 9/16" thick before you typically hit dead air space. I have been using the toothpick trick for years as long as you have the patience to let it set up over night. ROUND toothpicks work best. Take a few grasped together and dip them in a wood glue. Stick them in the hole and tap them in with a small hammer. Add one or two at a time till you get a nice tight fit. Snap them off by hand and tap in till flush. Let them set up over night and then drill about a 1/8" pilot hole.

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Your fix will probably fail for something supporting a large load (like a hinge). You might be ok if you're just holding a strike-plate. As others have noted, "wood glue" (I'm assuming you mean alphatic resin) is not good at gap-filling (like foaming urethane glues) nor at having good shape-holding strength (like something like JB Weld). In fact, AR glue initially cures to be rather soft, and then becomes hard and brittle.

My understanding of how AR glue works is that it temporarily softens the natural binder (that the tree created) between the wood fibers. This means that, under adequate clamping pressure, the fibers from the two wood pieces will actually mesh with each other. Done properly, this will leave a glue joint which is stronger than the pieces of wood, themselves. As hard as it may be to believe this, I've personally witnessed this... several times. Anyway, the point is: a good wood-glue joint doesn't use the glue to provide any "body", and, as such, a good joint will squeeze out a majority of the glue you apply.

As you might have surmised, in order for AR glue to do this, it is important to: 1) get as many wood fibers from both pieces in contact with each other, and 2) get pressure on them so that they intermingle. This is why you see woodworkers obsess over getting really flat, smooth joining surfaces (because any roughness just creates "pockets" of glue which don't help you), and they go to great lengths to get tons of clamping pressure everywhere (lots of clamps and using cauls to distribute that pressure evenly).

With that all out of the way, if you're just using the screws to hold the latch faceplate or the strike plate in, you may be ok with the technique you used. If you were doing that with a hinge, I wouldn't think it would hold up even a few minutes.

So... what are some other things you can do? Here they are in order of most-correct to the more under/over-doing it.

  1. The "dowel" trick. Some others have mentioned using toothpicks or a golf tee. These are all variations of the notion of "completely repairing the hole to be a solid piece of wood and re-drilling the hole". I don't think toothpicks are optimal as there will be gaps between them (and gaps are bad with AR glue) and golf tees are sub-optimal because they're painted (inhibiting the function of the glue). Instead, go get some wooden dowel rod of a diameter a little bigger around than the diameter of the screws you're going to use later (maybe about 1/8" greater dia) and cut off a piece to serve as the plug. Sand/file one end of the plug so that it has a little taper/bevel to help shoehorn it into the hole. Then, pick a drill a little smaller than that diameter and drill out the stripped hole so that the plug fits really snugly. Try to use a sharp drill and not drift your hand too much while drilling, as we want the hole to be smooth and of constant diameter. (Note: if the door/jamb you're repairing is somewhat deteriorated, then choose a larger hole/dowel to get to better wood). Now, slather wood glue along the inside of the hole and along the plug and tap it into the hole. The snugness of the hole is going to provide some clamping pressure between the faces. After the glue cures (about 12-24 hours), you can drill pilot holes for the screws. Use pilot holes of the same diameter (or just a little smaller) than the shank of the screw. You can do this either with calipers or by holding the drill in front of the screw to see how much of the screw shank is visible. This will prevent the screw from trying to crack the plug and/or surrounding wood. Lastly, in order to keep your screw holes from getting stripped in the future, this is the best way I've found to prevent wood/plastic screw holes from getting stripped from repeated removals/insertions of a screw: Rule 1: Use the same screw, when possible. Rule 2: When re-inserting the screw, apply light pressure while turning the screw counter-clockwise (i.e. the "remove" direction) until you feel the screw "drop into" the existing threads in the wood/plastic. Now, you can start driving the screw. This guards against cutting a new set of threads, which, done enough times, would completely bore out all of the wood used for holding the threads. Following these two rules, I've been able to remove/replace screws in wood 5-6 times without ever stripping the hole. (Note, if you do this method while anyone is watching, they'll call you an idiot because they think you don't know which way to turn a screw to drive it).
  2. Just go to your local hardware store and find longer screws of similar gauge and countersunk head.
  3. I've seen home-improvement stores sell little short tubes of perforated metal which resembles a cheese/potato grater. You stick those into the hole and the perforations grab onto the hole and then the screw bites into the metal. These should work if you're in a hurry and don't care about being able to remove/re-insert screws later.
  4. If you're really crazy, you could get threaded inserts. These are brass (or stainless steel) sleeves which are threaded for wood on the outside and have machine threads on the inside. Drill a large hole out of your jamb, and drive the threaded insert in. Basically, you'd be installing machine screws into your door jamb. Guaranteed to never strip, but you'd also take home the trophy for most over-repaired home repair job of the week.
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this has happened to me more often that I like.

Drill out the stripped holes with a 1/4 drill bit to a depth of 1 inch. Score the sides of 1/4 inch wide wood dowel, 1 1/4 inches long with a razor Place wood glue in the newly enlarged hole. Lightly tap dowel into hole and let glue dry. Trim/Sand the dowel flush.

The glued dowel will be able to support a new screw when dry.

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Epoxy is your friend

The thing with wood glues is they dry through air exposure. You won't have much of that in your hole, so it's better to choose a glue that doesn't need anything to dry/cure. That won't be a 1-part product, since such a product would dry in the bottle.

You can get epoxy at any speed you want, from 12 hour to 1 minute. That means not waiting a day to hang the door.

However, pure epoxy is too hard to drive screws into. The best plan is to drive in an appropriate fitting piece of wood, and only use the epoxy to hold the wood in. Toothpicks or wood matchsticks will suffice. Ideally, drill the hole out, say 1/4" or 6mm, and drive in a softwood dowel of that size. You don't want the wood being significantly harder than the surrounding wood, or the screw will seek the softer wood.

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