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:

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.

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

Step 3: 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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35 Discussions


4 days ago

Thank you!!!!! New home owner here and this is awesome! I thought we were going to need a handyman for my stripped door


10 months ago

I'm lazy and impatient. Instead I drilled out holes large enough so I could insert wall anchors. So far it seems to work well.


1 year ago

Fantastic instructions! I knew your instructable was the one for me because Monkey Boy and Disaster Girl have doppelgangers who live at MY house - so I knew you were fixing the exact problem I was having. To keep the heavy lifting to a minimum, I popped out the hinge pin and used the door-attaching half of the hinge to mark where my pilot holes should go (the door edge had been painted, so I had a built in template for exactly where the hinge lay). Thanks so much for your funny and so easy to follow instructions!


2 years ago

This worked like a charm for me my first go at it! I did read ahead and use some glue that sets up faster though because it was a door that leads to a chilly mudroom.

Thanks for the great information!!!!


2 years ago

Thank you... I have a teen version of your kids... need to take care of her door very soon.... appreciate the detailed instructions and pictures very much.


2 years ago

Two years later and this fix is still holding strong. I was worried that it may let loose at some point but you would never know the door was fixed unless you took the hinge plate off.**

Thank you for this idea. My 3 year old took the bottom hinge pin out of his bedroom door and when we opened it the hinge screws got pulled out. I'll be picking up the supplies and trying this tomorrow. Thanks again!


2 years ago

Yes, using a length of dowel is the best method. In fact the dowel method and wood glue is stronger than the original hole. Most doors are made of pine which is soft and does not hold screws well or for long. Particle board is used in hollow core doors and its holding ability is limited too. After drilling a hole to accommodate the dowel and applying glue to both the hole and the dowel use another dowel of a larger diameter to "set" the smaller dowel into the hole. This method puts the top of the dowel flush with the surface of the hinge mortise. I use oak dowels apposed to pine. Oak being an open grain wood and a hard wood, tends to hold threads better. If you have a centering hinge drill use the hinge as a template and the finish repair will be better than new and last for years. Another hint is to use a long screw in one of the holes in the top most hinge long enough to penetrate the stud. After time the weight of the door will pull on the hinge and cause the door not to hang straight. This long screw transfers more holding power to the stud and puts less stress on the jamb itself.

1 reply

Reply 2 years ago

I'd be interested in seeing your modifications that you recommended. Would you be willing to do an instructable to demonstrate? It sounds like you have some very nice improvements.

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.

2 replies

Reply 3 years ago

Just using thicker/longer screws is indeed easier... if you can! I've had the same hinge strip 3x and now there are no larger screws that can fit... I'll be trying the dowel method in the near future!


Reply 3 years ago

That usually worked fine on the door frame but most doors are hollow core so the longer screw does not work


3 years ago

Thank you for the pictures. They are reassuring. I have a very heavy 1930's bathroom door that I have tried all the tricks to fix and it keeps pulling the screws out of the top hinge. This last time it even pulled out the screws from the bottom hinge at the frame. My last ditch effort is to try this fix with the dowels. Thank you again for all your time to show this process.


3 years ago

Worked perfectly! I used gorilla glue with outstanding results. Great step by step guide here and only cost a few bucks to fix. Thanks!


3 years ago

Just finished this, worked great! I used Bosch self-starting spade bits for drilling the holes... not sure if normal drill bits would have been better because I ran into something about 1/2" into the wood that diverted me to one side. Made for some annoyance when fitting the dowels but they're fine. I figure if more assurance is needed, a super small hole can be drilled diagonally into the larger hole for tacking in a pinning nail to hold the dowel. Anyway, thanks a lot for this.


3 years ago

This worked great, thank you!


3 years ago on Introduction

Haven't tried it yet but I need to repair the heavy interior garage door leading into the house. My hinge holes got worn out and tried the old 'golf tee' trick and that was a joke. Lasted about a week. This is a heavy composite door to keep the heat from the garage out of the house. Got fed up and just took the door off the hinges until I could either do it myself or find someone to do it. Going to try this method and see what happens.


4 years ago on Introduction

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!