Fixing a Loose Wood Screw – Four Ways to Do it Yourself

A common home improvement task is maintenance of connections made with wood screw fasteners. Specifically, they tend to come loose on things that are frequently used. Whether it's a door hinge, lock set, wall mounted banister, door stop or coat hook – once they start to work themselves loose, they only get worse, so you must take action.

Here are four suggestions for getting wood screw fasteners tight again:

  • Plug the hole with wood matches or toothpicks. It's simple and effective. It really averages to jamming soft wood into the hole to take up the space that is creating looseness. Wooden match sticks (not the heads) are a soft wood that make plugging the hole easy. You can also splinter a piece of lumber as well. Simply tap in enough wood pieces to fit snugly in the hole and break them off flush with the surface. Then, replace the screw and tighten it in place.
  • Drive a wooden golf tee into the hole. This works much like suggestion # 1 above, except the golf tee is usually made from hardwood, so it's good for jobs where you have a larger and deeper hole to plug, and the wood screws are larger than average.
  • Use wood glue. For screws that are just starting to get loose, you can insert a little wood glue into the hole to bond the screw to the adjacent wood. Apply the glue with a syringe, small nail or toothpick, and tighten up the screw. This is known as "screwed and glued" and it's not uncommon for making good tight connections. Think of it as "lock-tite" for wood.
  • Find a larger or longer screw. This is a variation on plugging the hole. Instead of using wood to plug the hole, you find a wider diameter screw or a longer screw. In either case, the larger / longer screw will find new wood to bite into. Just be certain that the larger / longer screw is compatible with what you're securing with it and the depth of the wood you're screwing into.

If these methods do not help, you'll probably have to look at other alternatives like a mounting plate, using a plastic wall anchor, or using adhesive to put things in their place to stay.