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How to Tighten a Loose Screw in a Wood Surface

When you discover a loose screw in a piece of furniture or part of a house, it can often be tightened with just a few turns of a screwdriver. But when the hole that the screw fills has become enlarged and will no longer hold the screw tightly, a screwdriver alone just won't cut it. You could always run to the store, get some wood putty, fill the hole and wait for it to dry, but there's a much easier and faster solution. Learn this carpentry quick-fix secret.


  1. Use a screwdriver to completely remove the screw in question.
  2. Insert a wooden toothpick into the screw's hole to determine the depth of the hole. If the hole is too shallow to hold the entire toothpick, break the toothpick at the right place so that it is approximately as long as the hole is deep. If you find it difficult to break the toothpick at the right point, either err on the side of making the broken toothpick a little too short or use a sharp utility knife to cut it more precisely.
  3. Break or cut a few more toothpicks to the same length. You'll ultimately be using these toothpick pieces to fill in the hole, so you should approximate the number of toothpicks you'll need based on the diameter of the hole you need to fill.
  4. Slide several toothpicks or toothpick fragments lengthwise into the hole. Don't fill it so full of toothpicks that there isn't room for even one more; leave a little extra room to allow the screw to go in more easily.
  5. Stick the sharp end of the screw into the middle of the mass of toothpick pieces. Use the screwdriver to tighten the screw back in. The screw's threads should grab hold of the toothpicks surrounding it, compressing those toothpicks against the inner walls of the hole and holding the screw tightly in place.

Things You Will Need

  • Screw
  • Screwdriver
  • Wooden toothpicks
  • Utility knife (optional)

Tips

  • If you don't have toothpicks handy, try wooden matchsticks. Just be sure to cut the flammable heads off first.
  • If you don't have matchsticks or toothpicks, try wood putty as described in the introduction. Just be sure to allow the putty to dry completely before attempting to reinsert the screw.