"Stripped" pocket hole screws

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by jstewart posted 09-14-2008 05:40 AM 10866 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View jstewart's profile


141 posts in 4264 days

09-14-2008 05:40 AM

Topic tags/keywords: pocket hole joinery strength

On my current project, I’m using a lot of pocket hole joinery. After drilling the pocket holes, I did a dry fit (no glue) to see what everything would be like when finished. (It was almost perfectly square, which made me very happy.) One problem I ran into was over-tightening the pocket hole screws. I seem to have “stripped” a couple of them. By “stripped” I mean I tightened to the point that the screw just spun in the hole, as if I had destroyed the threads made by the self-tapping screws. This only happened at one joint, where I was able to add a third pocket hole without any problems. Should I be very concerned. That joint now has 3 pocket screws, two of which are “stripped”. After doing the glue-up, should I still feel confident in the holding power of the joint?

-- Joshua, Olathe, Kansas

25 replies so far

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 3988 days

#1 posted 09-14-2008 06:10 AM

What kind of material is it? Particle board? Wood? Ply?

-- Scott - Chico California

View cmaeda's profile


205 posts in 3727 days

#2 posted 09-14-2008 06:53 AM

I had a similar problem. Try driving the screws in by hand. Its’ easy to use too much force when using a drill for this.
If the joint is critical and will be under stress, you could make a loose mortise and tenon to strengthen the joint.

View jdashburn's profile


4 posts in 3716 days

#3 posted 09-14-2008 07:20 AM

Yes, I would be concerned about the holding power. Cut a piece of wood the same diameter as the hole and glue it in. You may need to clean out the hole a little more first. Wait for the glue to dry then re-drill the hole and put in the screw. One great thing about this type of joinery is that only you know the location of the mistake.

View gusthehonky's profile


130 posts in 3915 days

#4 posted 09-14-2008 10:00 AM

I use golf tees to repair door jams when damaged or oversized holes exceed the size hinge screws need. Add glue and trim to size.

-- Ciao, gth.

View mleedix's profile


63 posts in 3723 days

#5 posted 09-14-2008 01:46 PM

If there is room and the joint is absolutely hidden. You can drill out the hole insert and glue a hardwood dowel. Let that set up overnight, sand it smooth and then redrill your pocket hole.

-- - Michael "Over 300000 species of trees, yet we take the credit for their beauty..."

View CedarFreakCarl's profile


594 posts in 4226 days

#6 posted 09-14-2008 04:22 PM

Looks like you’ve got plenty of good advice for fixing the stripped out holes. One thing to watch is to use the right screws for the the right wood which may or may not be the problem in your case. Fine threads for hard wood and coarse threads for pine, cypress etc. You probably already know it, but I thought I’d throw it out there just in case. Screw length is important too depending on what board thickness you have. Your pocket screw manual can help you there. One more thing, I’ve fixed stripped out holes just by putting 5 min epoxy in, letting it set up and then re-screwing. Good luck.

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

View jstewart's profile


141 posts in 4264 days

#7 posted 09-15-2008 12:05 AM

Thanks for all the great ideas on how to fix this. I took a step back from the project to think about this issue before continuing on with anything. I think I’ve actually come to the decision to not do anything about it. The joint has 3 pocket screws, one of which is nice and tight. I tried to pry it apart with my hands and couldn’t even get it to show a gap (and that’s with no glue on the joint yet). Also, after thinking more about where this joint will be in the end product, I realized that it really needs to hold up to shearing strain, not forces trying to pull the joint apart. Also, in the end, there will be a plywood shelf briding this joint. I plan to put pocket holes from the shelf into both the stile and rail. This will also add more strength to the joint. And to go with all of that, since this stil and rail will actually be on the floor, forming a frame-and-flat-panel side to a carcase, I plan to back up this corner with a hidden 1-1/2” X 1-1/2” block, to give the corner a bit more size and strength. With all of these reinforcements in play, I think I’ll take my chances with this joint as is.

Don’t get me wrong. I greatly appreciate all of the advice and ideas. In fact, since I haven’t glued anything up yet, I’ll probably go with the CA glue idea, the day before I decide to drive the screws one final time. I’ll also be careful to use my lower-powered cordless drill with a low torque setting when setting screws for now on.

-- Joshua, Olathe, Kansas

View Safetyboy's profile


119 posts in 3932 days

#8 posted 09-16-2008 03:02 AM

I think you’ll be all right, as long as you’ve got some glue in there:

We needed an “emergency baby gate” after we brought home our 2nd adopted son at 1-1/2 years, who wasn’t used to stairs… so I grabbed some left-over poplar and pocket screwed the whole thing together in an hour or two.

Now that he’s been with us for a few months & manages stairs okay, we don’t need the gate anymore, so last week I took it down. Took it out to the garage and thought – “hey, I can take out those pocket screws and re-use them on something else!” So I did.

When I made the gate, I put a dab of glue on each joint… and with the screws removed, the left-over glue is still strong enough on that simple butt-joint that I can stand on the rungs no problem!

-- -- Kevin in Mentor, Ohio

View Don Niermann  's profile

Don Niermann

219 posts in 4145 days

#9 posted 09-16-2008 03:24 AM

Put some tooth picks iin the screw holes and screw them. Do not need any glue.

-- WOOD/DON ( has the right to ones opinion but not the right to ones own facts...)

View Quanter50's profile


278 posts in 2469 days

#10 posted 03-04-2012 03:20 AM

Ahhhhh….the old toothpick trick. I remember as a young boy fixing all Mom’s loose cabinet doors with toothpicks. The doors were plywood with a finished paint of “56’ Chevy Crocus Yellow”. I still have some of these mounted in my wood shop after Mom remodeled her kitchen.

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2459 days

#11 posted 03-04-2012 04:05 AM

I don’t know if anyone else has said this, but you could take some strong wood glue and mix it with sawdust until it’s a paste and put that in the holes that are striped and then insert the screw again. But the best way is to use a corner brace. I hope you’re not using drywall screws, some of them have no thread depth and will strip easily.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Ken Fitzpatrick's profile

Ken Fitzpatrick

376 posts in 4196 days

#12 posted 03-04-2012 04:53 AM


I use pocket screws for everything. I was having problems stripping screws myself until I went to a woodworking show and watched a Kreg rep’s presentation. One of the first things he said was if you use a driver to put the screws in make sure your clutch is set so you can’t strip the screws. You already have some great advice re: fixing the stripped ones (I have used birch toothpics myself).

So setting your clutch and using the right screws, fine for hardwoods and coarse for soft woods you should’t have the problem anymore.


-- • "I have noticed that nothing I have never said ever did me any harm."....... Calvin Coolidge

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2528 days

#13 posted 03-04-2012 05:11 AM

hardware stores sell dowels of various diameeters, cheap, you can use these to patch holes more precisely than a golf tee, which would be too large for a pocket hole. Another old school trick is to put glue in the hole and add paper. I’ve even picked up a twig to fill a hole once upon a time when I was in a real pinch.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18380 posts in 3849 days

#14 posted 03-04-2012 05:53 AM

I use a tooth pick or 2 with glue in striped wood screw holes.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 3142 days

#15 posted 03-04-2012 11:23 AM

I would simply put a heavier gauge self tapping pan-head screw in instead of the pocket hole screw and be careful not to over tighten.

showing 1 through 15 of 25 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics