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If I have driven a wood screw in and out of a hole more than several times, especially with shorter screws, chances are the hole will become too wide for the screw to form a tight grip, instead it will just spin when you reach the depth maximum. Is there anything I can put into the hole, like a super strong epoxy, that will revitalize the hole so that I can achieve a firm grip again, assuming a screw/hole relocation is not an option?

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    There's a lot of wooden sticks out there but bamboo skewers and golf tees (made of birch) seem to work a lot better than alternatives. Coat with wood glue and tap in.
    – dandavis
    Jul 26 '21 at 22:26
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The simplest option is a matchstick or two. Push the match into the hole, and snap it off to length.

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Best: drill out and glue a dowel in place, once dry drill pilot hole and use.

Or a matchstick will tighten but not for repeated reassembly.

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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, particularly if you are screwing in a lock or hinges or something else where the profile of the screw head matters.

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  • Toothpicks tend to be higher quality wood because they need to be strong. I like using bamboo ones due to the extra strength from the grain, and they're only marginally more expensive.
    – Nelson
    Jul 28 '21 at 16:46
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If you've already had to unscrew it several times, there's a good chance you'll have to do it again, so consider replacing the wood screw with a machine screw and using a threaded insert in the wood for it to engage with. That way it won't wear out after another several times of being unscrewed.

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Drywall anchor

drywall anchor

source

These are good for any sort of hole that wont hold a screw. They will work well in your stripped wooden hole. I got some saggy interior doors unsaggy by fortifying the holes for the hinge screws with some of these.

You tap them into the hole with a hammer.

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  • I don't think these things compress enough though, and might split the wood. I've never used them in wood; primarily in concrete/brick, and sometimes in drywall if I'm desperate.
    – Nelson
    Jul 28 '21 at 16:45
  • @Nelson: in my experience they are a more lasting fix for a hole in wood than the old wad of toothpicks method. I owned some for concrete but one day I tried one for wood and was very pleased. Now I use them more for wood than anything else.
    – Willk
    Jul 28 '21 at 16:54

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