Note the 2″ long engineered screw, designed specifically
to work in particle board.Overtighten and you’ll need my toothpick cure
Both round and flat toothpicks work, but I’ve had better results with flat. Three toothpicks have been inserted into an empty 2″ deep hole, big end first, as shown. I space them around the hole. When round picks are used, one or two usually does the trick. Don’t jam the hole full because when you drive the screw in, the particle board will split. And, putty-like wood fillers are not a solution for stripped holes in particle board, in my amateur opinion. A toothpick today keeps the repairman away.
Avoid glue in the hole unless you never plan to take the cabinet apart. Insert the screw and begin to tighten. This may force the toothpicks together. That’s OK. The real test is whether or not the screw is able to bite or grab, to cinch up relatively tight, providing structural integrity. As you turn the screw in, you should begin to feel it grab as it passes the halfway point. Turn slowly. If you don’t feel resistance after the halfway point, check to see if the wood has split. If not, remove the screw and add one or two extra toothpicks and try again.
4 Seat and Snug
When the screw grabs as you slowly drive it into the hole, the tails of the toothpicks will begin to flatten. Continue to slowly turn the screw until it’s seated and snug. Be careful. You can overtighten, re-stripping the hole. Worse, you can crack the particle board. Then, you’ll need to drill a new nearby hole that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the screw, plus a countersink hole for the screwhead. Or, you’ll need a skilled repair person with the right tools.
5 Remove Tails
Here’s a close up of a fully seated screw. Note the three tails. You’ll want to remove these. Rub your thumb over the tails to break them off, or use a utility knife to cut them off, as shown below. If the screw heads will be visible, remove the tails with care. Or, cut the toothpicks to length beforehand so that you don’t have tails.
6 How it Works
How it works: After snugging up the screw shown in Step 5, I removed it, then pulled the toothpicks to see how this repair actually works. I expected the toothpicks to come out in pieces. But they were intact and slightly shredded as shown. I think the fix relies on compression, demonstrated by the distorted shapes. I used fresh toothpicks to repair this hole again, first cutting the toothpicks to avoid tails, and the screw cinched up and seated nicely, adding strength to the assembly. In particle board, care must be used to not overtighten. In solid hardwood, a little more tightening torque may be used.
The fully seated screw and the cut-off tails. After shooting this photo, I used the sharp tip of the utility knife to clean things up a bit more.
For other holes…
About the Author
Something of a lug nut, deeply experienced, widely published, sometimes learns from mistakes, can be trained. Reporter, editor, web content creator, outbound and inbound marketing, articles, research, positioning, press releases, white papers, case studies, SEO, newsletters, desktop publishing design templates. My work spans conceptual, analytical, interpretive, journalistic, and persuasive projects. Experience in high technology, real estate, dentistry and health care, aerospace, law, general business, B-B and B-C. Located in California’s vino-licious wine country, my education includes a degree in Journalism (minor in Green) and post-grad work in Business.