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This is for load-bearing bronze screws in an oak frame, carrying a heavy oak door.

Four of the screws were removed momentarily for maintenance work. Two of the screw holes may have been stripped slightly when the screws were around 3/4 of their length out of the frame.

A dowel would not be an option at this stage, because that would mean undoing some of the maintenance work. I was thinking of several options:

  1. Just reuse the screw holes, even if some are partially stripped.
  2. Apply wood glue alone to reinforce the inner surface of the screw holes.
  3. The toothpick method. Put in a toothpick with wood glue into the screw holes, leave to dry partially, then reinsert wood screws.

I was unsure what this last method would do to the 3/4 of the threads that are still viable. Does it risk damaging the unstripped threads, or would it tighten and secure the threads in situ?

Which option would be best?

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I would go for the dowel method.

Support the door, move that face of the hinge out of the way, drill, and fit dowel with glue. Let dry, pilot drill and then use good screws.

  • Hi. A dowel would be ideal, but it won't be possible at this stage because that would mean undoing the maintenance work. Sorry if that wasn't clear in the question. – Trend2019 Aug 14 at 13:52
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    Given you say it is a heavy door, then the other 3 "solutions" are weaker... – Solar Mike Aug 14 at 13:53
  • I understand that. I was wondering which of these other options would be best though. – Trend2019 Aug 14 at 13:55
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Out of the three listed options I would use #3 as it is closest to the dowel method. I would also use longer screws if possible so that if only part of the hole is stripped the extra length can get more grip.

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I have used tooth picks and matches with glue for many years. With hard wood I use toothpicks as they are hard, match sticks with the head cut off work will work but I use those on soft wood like pine. I squirt the wood glue in push in however many I think I need then wipe the excess and insert the screws

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Toothpicks. As I've previously answered here Slightly different question, so not a duplicate. But answer is the same.

  • What's different is that the holes may only be partially stripped. I was unsure, in this case, if the toothpick method would damage the threads that are still intact. – Trend2019 Aug 14 at 14:29
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    The toothpicks would cover up the existing threads, so the screws will create new threads. But that is the nature of wood screws anyway. That is quite different from threaded metal screw holes, where if the threads get messed up, your only effective choices are to put in a threaded insert (bonded really well) + smaller screws, or make a larger hole and thread that to match the existing screws. With a screw into wood, every time you remove/replace the screw you are effectively creating new "threads" and weakening the connection. – manassehkatz Aug 14 at 14:35
  • The difference here is you know it is messed up enough that it won't hold. Toothpicks are an effective filler - an insert that lets you put in the same (or same size) screw almost as if it were fresh wood. – manassehkatz Aug 14 at 14:36
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Epoxy instead of wood glue irrespective of any hole filling method you use. If this is for oak door hinges, I find it hard to understand why you cannot dowel? (The dowels are hidden underneath the hinge plates).

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I've occasionally seen toothpick style repairs and never been highly impressed with them. It kinda works, and it's cheap and easy, but the wood a toothpick is made of is nothing like your oak base material. Even with wood glue to help hold it in place the toothpick wood is still soft.

A technique I've recently read about, but haven't yet tried myself, is to drill the hole oversize and fill it with epoxy. Insert the screw, clamp until the epoxy sets, and it'll be stronger than the original wood. If you expect to need to remove the screw in the future, apply a light coat of wax before inserting it. If the screw is epoxied without wax and must be removed in the future all is not lost. It can be heated with a soldering iron or other source until the epoxy softens and then the screw can be wound out in the usual way.

Apparently this technique is commonly used in the marine world. The epoxy vendor West System has a nice write-up at their web site.

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