Handy Tip #1: Fixing Cabinet Door Hinge With Chopsticks




After use or abuse (kids hanging on the door) sometimes the screw securing the hinge of a cabinet door will pull out slightly. The door becomes crooked and does not close properly. Over the years I have tried various fixes, such as finding a proper sized dowel or jamming toothpicks into the hole and gluing them in place. Finding a properly sized dowel can be very difficult and waiting for glue to dry means waiting for a few extra hours. A slightly tapered dowel is the best solution. Fortunately, chopsticks fit the bill. They are also cheap and readily available. Following are instructions for fixing a slightly stripped hole on a cabinet. I have also used this method to tighten loose screws in door hinges. If this works for you, you might add a few sets of chopsticks in your toolbox.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Chopsticks: Take-out chopsticks work fine. The slightly larger and thicker ones offer a little more size flexibility.

Something to cut the chopsticks. I have a fine-tooth fine cut saw, but realize that many people may not have one. A good alternative is a pair of sharp pruners. They will make a clean cut on the chopstick and are actually easier to use. Make sure that they cut the chopsticks and aren't dull and crushing them.

Drill and correct size drill bit (not pictured)

Screwdriver (not pictured)

Step 2: Fixing the Hole

  1. Remove the cabinet door and problematic hinge. Once you see the holes, typically, the top hole will be a little larger since it was made larger by the screw pulling out. The chopstick will be used to fill the hole.
  2. Start by placing the tip of the chopstick into the targeted hole. You are trying to achieve a fairly tight fit with the tapered end of the chopstick. To do this, start cutting the tip of the chopstick 1-2mm at a time and fit it into the hole. The cuts can be done with the fine-cut saw or pruners. You want to achieve a pretty tight fit with about 5mm of chopstick sticking into the hole. Once you achieve this tight fit, place a mark on the chopstick 2mm from the end of the hole. This step is the most important since you need to make sure the chopstick tip will be tight enough to secure the screw.
  3. Cut the chopstick tip at the mark.
  4. Place the chopstick tip into the hole. Ensure the tapered end goes in first.
  5. Use a hammer or back end of screwdriver, tap the chopstick tip into the hole until it is flush with the cabinet wall.
  6. Using the hinge holes as a template, make a mark in the center and redrill the screw hole with an appropriate sized drill bit. The drill should be the size of the screw body.
  7. Reinstall the hinge and check that the hinge is secure. If not secure, you may need to start from the beginning and get a tighter fit on the chopstick. Once you have succeeded once, it will make future fixes easier.
  8. Reinstall the cabinet door. Hopefully, you have achieved success. If this works for you has helped, please let me know.



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    6 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I use a similar trick to fix banisters that have pulled out of concrete or stone walls. I cut some wooden matches (warning: do not use the striking end of the match) to fit into the hole, scrape them with the edge of the screw to roughen, cover them in Elmer's, put them into the hole and reattach. This provides the same amount of compression as your trick - they both work on all kinds of materials that have been stripped out.

    I had a desk that would not quite fit through the door into my bedroom - we had to cut 2 inches off the 4 wooden front legs. first we drilled holes in the legs, then marked each leg differently, cut the 2 inches off, put the desk in the room and used wooden chopsticks as dowels to reattach the pieces back onto the desk. We marked each leg differently so that we did not have to worry about precision cutting. Everyone should have Elmer's, chopsticks and/or wooden matches to tighten up anything that hangs with screws.


    3 years ago

    Nice to see something useful around the house. I think I'll keep that in mind as we have a lot of old Ikea cabinets (particle board) that we should get rid of in favour of real wood, but we'll make them last a bit longer.


    3 years ago

    Great work. If you use wood glue before you install the cut off piece of chopstick it'll hold better and longer. You can do the same thing with smaller holes using toothpicks. I've fixed doors to jewelry boxes this way.


    3 years ago

    So the bamboo chopstick works like a fisher to the screw. What a great idea.


    3 years ago

    Such a simple fix! I love it!