How to repair stripped screw holes for a door hinge.

Picture of How to repair stripped screw holes for a door hinge.
I am the father of 2 young kids, henceforth known as "Monkey Boy" and "Disaster Girl." As they break stuff around the house, I try to fix it. 

This is how I fixed my bathroom door.  

One day, Monkey Boy decided to swing with his full weight, hanging from the door handle of the bathroom door.  Not surprisingly, the screws holding the hinge to the 30-year old bathroom door decided that they'd had enough, and gave up.  The screws pulled out of the door and the holes were permanently stripped.  

Like most ordinary folks, we enjoy privacy during bathroom time, so I needed to fix it.

I had tried the toothpick and glue method shown here in the past on another door in the house when something similar happened involving a gaggle of giggling teenagers.  It did not work well for me, so I decided to try a more robust method.  

I'll be drilling out the stripped holes and gluing in dowels to fill the holes.
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Step 1: What you'll need:

Picture of What you'll need:
You'll need:

A drill
A wooden dowel (I used a 4ft long 3/8" poplar dowel - $0.84 at a local store)
A saw of some kind if you need to cut your dowel
A 3/8" drill bit (I used a Forstner bit)
Wood glue
Shop brush
A smaller drill bit (to drill new pilot holes after you've patched the old holes)
A screwdriver

The dowel I bought was 48" long, so I cut off three pieces that were around 1.5" long.  I didn't measure, and used a little hand coping saw to cut them to size.  I had some 80 grit sandpaper nearby so I used that to smooth and square off the rough looking cuts I made.  

Step 2: Drill out the old holes.

Picture of Drill out the old holes.
Using your 3/8" drill bit, drill out the old screw holes.

Step 3: Dry fit your dowels to make sure they fit.

Picture of Dry fit your dowels to make sure they fit.
I dry fitted the dowels to make sure the holes fit right before I added glue to the mix.  They fit perfectly.  Snug, but not overly tight.  In other words, they didn't wiggle around, but there's room for glue in there.  

Don't push them in all the way, or you won't get them back out to add glue.  :)  If you did push them in too far, since this is a hollow core door, you could in theory push them all the way in, and they'd fall into the cavity inside the door if all else failed, and you'd just have to go cut yourself some new dowels.

Step 4: Add glue.

Picture of Add glue.
Add glue to the holes.  Use your shop brush to spread the glue evenly all around the insides of the holes.

Add glue to the dowels, using the brush to spread it evenly around the surface.

Step 5: Insert dowels.

Picture of Insert dowels.
Push your dowels in, just until they are flush with the surface of the wood.  You don't want them to be inset, or sticking out too far.  They need to be flush so your hinge sits in the opening right and the screws have plenty of wood to hold onto once you reattach them.

After pushing in you'll have a gluey mess left over.  Use a damp washcloth to clean up the mess, being careful not to shove the dowels in too far in the process.

Step 6: The way-aiting is the hardest part.

Picture of The way-aiting is the hardest part.
At this point I read my glue bottle to see how long I have to wait before reattaching the hinge.  It says not to stress the joint for 24 hours.  Your glue might differ.  Just read your bottle, chill out, and listen to some Tom Petty.  Take photos of stuff and post it to Instructables to kill the time.  Looks like I won't be moving on to the next step until tomorrow.

You can also go ahead and clean up any mess you made up until now.  Wash out your shop brush if you ever want to use it again.  I bought my brushes in a big bag at a store called Harbor Freight for next to nothing, but I still like to take care of them.

Step 7: Mark and drill new pilot holes.

Picture of Mark and drill new pilot holes.
Ok, so you've waited until your glue has fully cured, right?  Me too.  

Now you either need to prop your door up so that it stands up correctly while you work on it, or it might be easier to have a helper hold it up for you if you have someone handy. 

Hold the hinge in place and mark the hole locations.

Use your drill and a small drill bit to drill new pilot holes for your screws.  I am not sure what size bit I used - I eyeballed it.  I just held the bit up to the screws to find one that was slightly smaller than the diameter of the screw shaft.  If you drill a hole too big at this point, you'll be right back where you started. 

Step 8: Reattach the screws.

Picture of Reattach the screws.
Using a screwdriver, reattach the screws.  I'd probably recommend against a driver bit in your power drill, just to make sure you don't use too much force and strip the screws back out again.

Test out the door, and enjoy pooping in private.

See you next time, when Monkey Boy and Disaster Girl strike again!
artworker2 years ago
Master stroke! Perfect by the book instructable!
FloydimusPrime (author)  artworker1 year ago
Thanks! :)

I ended up using slightly wider and longer screws to fix my door. I just drilled the hole a bit deeper. The guy at Home Depot kept telling me to use this technique but I found it much simple to use my method. Not sure if I am missing something. I'm sure this method works as well but just seems over-complicated.

randijoward6 months ago

Hey Thanks for posting!! What a great Idea! I have two doors that I need to fix (because I have 2 small kids that like to do the same thing to does).

I have to admit I was skeptical when I read this....I was convinced that as soon as I started screwing in new screws, the dowels were going to pop in and I would be out of luck. But I did give it a try, and am happy to report that it worked like a charm! I did hold off and let it dry for more than 24 hours, as suggested, so would recommend anyone else doing it to also be patient. Thanks for saving me from having to buy a new door!

theburack made it!7 months ago

Thanks for these instructions, worked like a charm. The whole door frame needs to be replaced for now I have a bathroom door that closes!

djscott792 years ago
wonderful idea I'll remember this in years to come when my doors fall off I caught my 4yo swinging in her door handle th other day and I remember doing the same thing when I was young so it gonna happen lol I'm guessing the same can be done on the door frame side of things, when I last took my doors off to paint I'm sure there were a few screws that went in but didn't tighten up
FloydimusPrime (author)  djscott791 year ago
I've seen my kids swinging on more doors since then. I'm surprised I haven't had to fix more doors yet! :)
TANZMEISTER2 years ago
Great Ible, One suggestion though, rather than trying to hold the door up, or have someone else try to hold it. Hardware stores sell packs of wood shims for dirt cheap just for this purpose.
FloydimusPrime (author)  TANZMEISTER1 year ago
Good suggestion! I actually propped the door up with a book. :)
MorNuN1 year ago
this is a great ible, a brilliant idea! but may I ask why wouldn't you use some longer screws?
it seems to me that they would hold longer and don't strip so easily.
FloydimusPrime (author)  MorNuN1 year ago
You're right, longer screws would be good. This is a hollow core door and the wood along the edge of the door is not very thick anyway. But you're right, the screws that I took out of the door are pretty short.
fredfx made it!1 year ago

I just used this technique for a door and one of the things that I added was a 3" piece of 1x1 that was cut off flat on one end that I used to tap the dowels flush. Other than that, I followed your instructions and it worked great.
Also, I went to the hardware store and the screws I used were #10 x 1.5" brass screws.

This hinge is VERY solid now. Well done my friend.

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FloydimusPrime (author)  fredfx1 year ago
Great! I'm glad to hear this was helpful. My door is still holding strong. Great suggestion on the 1x1 scrap to tap in the dowels!
fredfx1 year ago

I just did this and it was super easy.
Way to go! Perfect intractable.....

Our house was built in 1913 and there are a TON of hinged windows......I can see more of this in my future!


fredfx1 year ago

You rock. This is a great idea. I'm all over it!

pfred22 years ago
People usually make a fuss over gluing wood cross grain. I'm also not usually a fan of putting fasteners into end grain myself. But your method seems sound enough to me.
ardnon2 years ago
Nicely done. Great illustration of this technique that works in lots of situations.
Tom merritt2 years ago
Nice idea. I've used cheapo chopsticks left over from chinese take out with good results.
jshroyer2 years ago
Nice work.
aaahotdog2 years ago
I have used toothpicks with poor results, various rock hard fillers with mixed results, will have to try this. Thanks for sharing.
neo716652 years ago
Wooden golf tees fit in most striped door hinge holes without having to drill them out bigger.
Yeah -I do the same with wooden matches.