How To Fix A Screw Hole That Is Too Big – 14 Possible Fixes

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How to fix a too-big screw hole, you ask?  Well, how many DIYers do you know?  We’re pretty creative and industrious, and we’ve all come up with workarounds, shortcuts, fancy jigs, and such, and it’s likely many of us have had to answer this question using materials already handy in the shop.

A special trip to pick up something to correct a mistake we’ve made can be so annoying, and we hate when that happens.

Key Points:

  • The best method for fixing a screw hole that is too big will depend on the size of the hole, the type of wood, and the weight of the object that is being held in place.
  • From wooden plugs to wooden dowels, from toothpicks and wooden matches to rawlplugs, from nylon cable ties and steel wool to golf tees and pencils, there are many possible solutions.
  • When all of these possible fixes aren’t in the cards for you, there is always a screw-hole repair kit.

We’ll present a few, some common, some not so common, and maybe we’ll give you an idea that hasn’t occurred to you yet.  Necessity is the mother of invention, so to speak, as applicable to the woodworking shop as to any other situation.

How-To For Too-Big Screw Holes

We’ve decided to break this up into a couple of categories:  obvious and obscure.  Some of the answers are pretty common and commonly used, and you’ll likely recognize them.  Others are not so common or commonly used but equally effective.  We’ll begin with the more common, the more obvious solutions.

Drill A New Hole 

If you have enough room in the piece of wood you’re working with, you can simply drill a new hole.  Filling in the hole that is too big is easy – a little wood filler, for instance, or a wood plug, since you won’t be using it.

Just make sure the second hole is the right size and not a larger hole than you need, as you probably won’t want to drill a third hole.

Speaking of wood filler, we’ve written before about its use, including a Beginner’s Guide To Using Wood Filler, on these pages.

Use A Wooden Plug

Wooden Dowel

You likely will have wooden plugs in your shop, and they can be a solution, too.  We usually use them to plug a screw hole to cover the screw head.  They have grain showing, and aligning the great of the wooden plug with the grain of the wood you screwed makes a more professional appearance on the finished project.

A little wood glue or wood filler pushed deeply in to the too-large screw hole, followed by a wooden plug or two (depending on the depth of the screw hole), and allowed to dry fully, will give you something to screw into that will give the screw something to grip more tightly.

A hardwood plug will fit the bill for you in many instances.

We recommend you drill a pilot hole for the new screw, too.

No Wooden Plugs? A Wooden Dowel Will Work Well, Too

A wooden dowel is slightly larger than a wooden plug, and it provides a more secure fit. To use a wooden dowel, drill out the hole slightly larger than the wooden dowel, and then glue the dowel in place. As always, when using wood glue, allow enough time for the glue to dry fully before you tap that new screw in. 

If the wooden dowel is taller than the hole it is filling, you can use a sharp knife or a finishing saw (Japanese-style finishing saws are our favorite) to remove the excess so the dowel is flush with the wood surface.

Again, a pilot hole is recommended for the new screw.

Use a Larger Screw

This is a pretty straightforward fix for you.  A larger wood screw, the screw threads of which will embed into the side of the too big screw hole, might give you a tight enough fix.

We’d suggest, though, that you not use this method if the wood pieces are large and will support heavy weight.  For a small project, though, a larger wood screw might get you through okay.

We’d recommend a bit of wood glue in the hole, too, just for a little bit extra, and let the glue dry before you continue working with the wood.

You probably already know this, but your screw hole should be just a little bit smaller than the screw you intend to use.  Again, this will give the larger screw or thicker screw more to grip into and give a strong bond.

Other Solutions To Fix An Oversized Screw Hole 

These are probably the first solutions that will come to your mind in these situations, but there are many more.

Use toothpicks or matches 

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This is a quick and easy way to fill a small screw hole. Simply break off some toothpicks or matches and then glue them into the hole. Let the glue dry, and the toothpicks or matches will harden and provide a secure fit for the screw.

If the toothpicks or wooden matches are too tall, use a finish saw to cut off the excess flush with the wood surfaces.

Use Wood Filler

You can screw into wood filler once it has cured well and is fully dry. Wood filler can only hold small screws that carry a very small amount of load or stress. If you want the screw to hold weight, you can use an epoxy or two-part filler, which sets harder.

Many experts recommend using self-drilling screws when screwing into wood filler because they are particularly stable and sturdy.

A MinWax Wood Filler or DAP Plastic Wood Filler is a good choice for this purpose.

Use Epoxy

Epoxy is a strong adhesive that can be used to fill large screw holes. It is more difficult to work with than wood putty, but it provides a more secure and permanent fix.  The epoxy product you choose will have directions on the label, and simply follow them to fix the screw hole.

Use A Rawlplug

Never heard of a Rawlplug? 

A Rawlplug is a type of wall plug that is used to secure screws in materials that are porous or brittle, such as plasterboard or brick. It is a cylindrical insert that is made of plastic or metal, and it has a series of expanding wings that grip the material when the screw is inserted.

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Rawlplugs are available in a variety of sizes to suit different screw sizes and materials. They are also available in different materials, with plastic Rawlplugs being the most common type.

To use a Rawlplug, you first need to drill a pilot hole in the material that you are fixing the screw to. The size of the pilot hole will depend on the size of the Rawlplug that you are using. Once the pilot hole is drilled, you can insert the Rawlplug into the hole and then screw the screw into the Rawlplug.

The expanding wings of the Rawlplug will grip the material as the screw is inserted, providing a secure fixing. Rawlplugs are a versatile and effective way to secure screws in a variety of materials, and they are a common sight in any DIY toolkit.

Here are some of the benefits of using Rawlplugs:

  • They provide a secure fixing in porous or brittle materials.
  • They are available in a variety of sizes to suit different screw sizes and materials.
  • They are relatively easy to use.
  • They are a cost-effective way to secure screws.

If you are looking for a way to secure screws in porous or brittle materials, then Rawlplugs are a good option. They are a versatile and effective way to ensure that your screws stay in place.

Use Nylon Cable Ties

Those of you who watched Reacher on Prime Video saw him break the nylon cable ties that were around his wrists in the jail cell.  The guy was a beast, a huge man, and he broke the ties seemingly effortlessly.

Well, you can use nylon cable ties to fix that oversized screw hole, too. They come in various sizes, so pick a size that will fit the hole to be filled.  Jam them into the hole and tighten them.  The will provide the screw with material that will hold well and tightly and give the screw better traction as you tighten it.

As long as Reacher doesn’t come along, you’ll have a tight fix.

Use Golf Tees

Golf Tees Plugged Hole

A lot of woodworkers also seem to be golfers, and golfers always have golf tees in their golf bags.  It’s the same theory as the toothpicks and wooden matches. A little wood glue, a golf tee or two, and when the glue dries and cures, you will be able to add your screw.

As with some of the other fixes on this list, golf tees should be used when there is little or no weight to be carried.  It’s a light fix, a simple solution, and won’t carry any significant weight – light loads only.

Use Steel Wool

Yes, steel wool.  Jam as much steel wool as you can into the screw hole using a screwdriver or the eraser end of a pencil.  A little wood glue won’t hurt, either.  This, too, is only a light fix, and the joining will carry only a very light load.  But it does qualify as a fix, nonetheless.

Use a Pencil

Speaking of pencils, you can use one as a last resort, too.  Sharpen it well to narrow the end, and use light hammer taps to drive it into the hole – a #2 pencil will do.  A bit of glue, too, helps.  Let the glue dry, and then add the screw.

Homemade Wood Filler

No plugs, dowels, matches, toothpicks, golf tees, or steel wool?  No problem.  Make your own wood filler.

To a bit of wood glue, tear and add toilet paper (certainly you have toilet paper), and mix it into a clay-like composition.  Fill the screw hole with it, and allow it to dry fully before you drive the screw in.

Screw Hole Repair Kits Are A Thing

Yes, there is such a thing as a screw-hole repair kit.  You will find them at any of the big DIY stores, at your local hardware stores, and from online retailers.  They are inexpensive, ranging from a couple of bucks and up.  The packages come with directions, although the process is pretty intuitive.

Surely you will find one or more of these suggestions doable in your shop.  Most of us will have some, if not all, of these materials in our shop or in our house.  Of course, using the right drill bit will obviate the need to repair a mistake.

We all have a variety of drill bit sizes in our shop to choose from, and double-checking the size of the one we choose takes just a second.

But mistakes do happen, and now you know a number of solutions to choose from.  This is woodworking, so have some fun with it.

Last update on 2024-04-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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