How to Fix Loose Screws

Written by jennifer eblin
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How to Fix Loose Screws
A stripped hole makes your screw loose. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Loose screws are typically caused by a stripped hole. This occurs when you use too much pressure, speed or force when screwing into place. The friction of the screw against the wood or metal hole rubs away the grooves of both the screw and the hole. The lack of grooves makes it difficult, if not impossible, to simply tighten the screw. You need to remove the loose screw, to fix it.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Magnet (optional)
  • Toothpicks
  • Carpenter's glue
  • Utility knife
  • Sandpaper (optional)
  • Cordless drill

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  1. 1

    Place a set of needle-nose pliers at the top of the screw and gently push the edges of the pliers onto the sides of the screw. Squeeze the pliers and gently pull up, to pull the screw out of the hole. If the screw head is beneath the top of the hole, then set a magnet over the top and use the force to pull the screw up.

  2. 2

    Coat toothpicks with carpenter's glue. Start by coating the ends of one toothpick and sliding it into your hole. Coat each toothpick with the glue and place it along the inside edges of your screw hole. This works for both wood and metal surfaces and creates a new surface for your loose screw's threads to grip.

  3. 3

    Give the toothpicks at least one hour in the hole. This lets the glue set up correctly. Test the strength of the toothpicks by gently tugging or pulling on the pieces after an hour. If the pieces move, then wait another hour. You can also use wood matches.

  4. 4

    Run your utility knife around the matchsticks at the top of the hole. Break off each of the toothpicks with your needle-nose pliers. The utility knife scores the toothpicks, making it easier to break them off. Run sandpaper around the top of the hole, to remove any rough edges.

  5. 5

    Create a small starter hole with your cordless drill. Place your screw on top of the hole and screw it into place. The wood toothpicks fill in the striped areas of the hole and create a new surface for your screw. This should keep the screw from feeling loose in the future.

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