Wood Screws Won’t Tighten

Problem: Screws in hinges, furniture, or moveable fittings work loose and won’t stay tightened.

Background: Wood screws come in a wide variety of sizes and head types, including flat head, round head, and oval head, and may be slotted or Phillips type. They are threaded about two-thirds of their length. The Phillips heads work better with a drill or power screwdriver unit. Common screws will range in diameter thickness from No. 2 (small) to No. 16 (large), and in length from about ¼ inch to 2¼ inches. Generally screws are sized so that two-thirds will go into the base material, or second member, to which the surface piece is being fastened. It is a simple matter to tighten loose screws, but if the threads do not hold, extra work is necessary.

What to do: If the threads are worn out, or the screw has become loose in its original hole, try using a larger screw. In some cases this may not be possible, because the holes in the metal fittings or the thickness of the wood will not allow it. The options are to fill the screw hole with a wood plug, plastic wood, or steel wool. Even toothpicks or wooden safety matches with the heads broken off can work. Fill the hole with glue be fore inserting tapered wood plugs, toothpicks, or match stems. Once the glue has set, trim the wood material off flush with wood. Predrill a hole slightly smaller than the screw size when either wood plugs or plastic wood are to be used. With steel wool, insert a small amount into the screw hole and then reinsert the screw.

Special advice: Paraffin or wax can be used to lubricate screws for easier turning. (Do not use soap because it can cause the screw to rust.) Also don’t hammer in screws part way; it’s best to use a starter hole or, even better, to use a drilled pilot and shank holes. Many woodworking books have charts showing the drill bit sizes to use for pilot and clearance holes.

Helpful hint: You can buy special drill bits at home centers and hard ware stores which drill the pilot hole, clearance hole, and counter sink all in one operation. These are helpful if you need to drill many holes.

 

 

DIY Projects


Aligning the Bolt and Strike Plate

When a door fails to latch properly, it usually means the door is out of alignment. Often, the latch bolt is not dropping smoothly into the center of the strike plate.

 

Adjusting an Out-of-Balance Door

This maintenance project is really a good one. If you keep your garage door balanced, it will put a lot less strain on all its parts and should keep working trouble-free for years. An out-of-balance garage door can close too quickly and might be a hazard for kids and pets.

 

Adding a Telephone Extension

Pity the poor phone line. Few things have had to pick up the slack to take us into the information age like telecommunications. So it's not unusual to find answering machines, fax machines, and computer modems sharing space with telephones on our ever-stretched phone lines. No wonder we need new extensions just about everywhere. Fortunately, the four- or eight-conductor bell wire you'll run to get them is a breeze to work with.

 

Building a Multilevel Deck

Decks are a perfect area for outdoor entertaining and outdoor relaxing. The style of deck you choose to build determines how you use your deck, as well as how you build it. Although similar in appearance, different decks can require different construction techniques.

 

Building a Ground-Level Deck

Decks are a perfect area for outdoor entertaining and outdoor relaxing. The style of deck you choose to build determines how you use your deck, as well as how you build it. Although similar in appearance, different decks can require different construction techniques.

 

Building a Single-Level Raised Deck

Decks are a perfect area for outdoor entertaining and outdoor relaxing. The style of deck you choose to build determines how you use your deck, as well as how you build it. Although similar in appearance, different decks can require different construction techniques.

 

Building a Low-Level Deck

Decks are a perfect area for outdoor entertaining and outdoor relaxing. The style of deck you choose to build determines how you use your deck, as well as how you build it. Although similar in appearance, different decks can require different construction techniques.

 

Building a Closet Organizer

You've cleared out the space, written down all your measurements, and now you're ready to go out and buy that long-overdue closet-organizing system. OK, but prepare yourself for some sticker shock. Depending on the off-the-shelf system you choose, a single closet's worth can end up costing hundreds of dollars. Our easy-to-build organizer will set you back just the cost of a single sheet of plywood (plus a couple of clothes poles and some 1x3 lumber). And guess what – it will function just the same as the high-priced spread.

 

Building Utility Shelves

Why take the time to build your own utility shelves when there are so many good off-the-shelf solutions to choose from? Well, for one thing, you can build this custom unit to fit the exact space you have available. And because you'll anchor it to the ceiling joists and the floor, it'll probably be a lot sturdier under a heavy load than most freestanding shelves.

 

Constructing a Built-In Shelving Unit

Want a more finished look for your new shelves? Then consider taking the time to plan and construct a built-in shelf system. Tucked between two windows or between a wall and a window or door, it will take on the look of custom furniture, because you can plan it to fit exactly into your available space.

 

Freeing a Sticking Door

Doors stick when the hinges sag, when the door frame shifts, or when humidity causes the door and door frame to swell. If the door seems to be sagging within the frame, make sure the hinge screws are tight. Screws that are loose may need to have their screw holes repaired.

 

Framing a Prehung Interior Door

If you're building a new partition wall that includes an interior door, you'll need to frame the door opening properly. A properly constructed door opening reinforces the wall above and on either side of the door. You can save yourself some potential headaches by purchasing the prehung door unit you plan to install before beginning the framing. That way, you can be sure the opening you build is about 3/4 inch wider than the prehung door unit. This allows enough room to make the necessary adjustments. In moist basements, it's a good idea to use pressure-treated wood for the sole plate.

 

Fixing Leaky Sink Strainers

The sink strainer assembly connects the sink to the drain line. There's a bead of putty that goes under the lip of the strainer, and it's a very common place for leaks to occur. Your goal is to take the assembly apart, put in fresh putty, and tighten everything back up. Remember: there are quite a few nuts, washers, and gaskets to this assembly. Keep them in their correct order when you reassemble everything. Old washers and gaskets should be replaced – take the old ones with you when you shop for replacements.

 

Finishing Inside Corners

Inside corners are a natural place for hairline cracks to appear. This can be prevented by first applying a thin layer of wallboard compound, followed immediately by strips of paper or fiberglass wallboard tape pressed into the damp compound. You will want to use fiberglass tape if you use a quick-setting compound and paper wallboard tape if you use a regular premixed wallboard compound.

 

Finishing Outside Corners

Outside corners often take quite a beating, so it is a good idea to reinforce them with a metal corner bead. This is nailed to the outside corner, then joint compound is applied. Keep in mind that you should allow a day for drying for each coat of joint compound on corner joints. Pick a time to tackle this project when you won't mind having a wall "under construction" for a few days.

 

Grouting

Grouting is the process of filling the spaces between the tiles. The filler – grout – comes in powder form in premixed colors. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to mix it. For a strong and colorfast grout, get the right consistency using the least amount of water possible. Mix thoroughly to minimize color variation. Only make as much as you can use before it begins to set. Keep any leftover dry grout for future repairs.

 

Getting Ready to Paint

As with all painting projects, the key to success is preparation. Your first step is to clean everything thoroughly with a solution of trisodium phosphate (TSP) or a good phosphate-free substitute. This removes dirt and grime that would keep new paint from adhering.

 

Hanging Borders

Like any wallpapering project, you're most likely to be successful if the surfaces are clean and smooth. If you're installing a wallpaper border over an existing paper, you'll get the best results using a vinyl-to-vinyl adhesive.

 

Installing Cabinet Drawer Fronts

Drawer fronts come in two types – solid and applied. Solid drawer fronts are an integral part of the drawer. Applied fronts are screwed to the front of a pre-made drawer box. To replace solid fronts, you'll saw off overlapping edges and screw the new front to the face of the old. For applied fronts, unscrew the old fronts to remove them, then attach the new ones.

 

Installing Cabinet Doors

Installing new cabinet doors isn't difficult, but plan plenty of time so that the doors hang straight, are evenly spaced, and operate smoothly. Attach the hardware to the door first, then hang the door on the cabinet face frame. You can work on the doors in your kitchen, but protect them from scratches by using a soft cloth or clamping them in an upright position. When drilling pilot holes for the hinge screws, take care not to drill all the way through the door!

 

Installing a Security Lock

Deadbolt locks provide extra security for entry doors. There are two types -- single-cylinder and double-cylinder. Single-cylinder types feature a finger latch that can be opened from the inside. Double-cylinder deadbolts must be opened with a key from either side of the door.

 

Installing an Entry Door

Nothing spruces up the outside of your home quite like a new entry door. An insulated steel entry door is a good choice because it combines toughness with energy efficiency. Entry doors come in a variety of styles and colors and feature a baked-on enamel finish that is especially durable. As with most doors, you can get a steel entrance door that is pre-hung with hinges, jambs, and brick molding included to simplify installation.

 

Installing Split-Jamb Interior Doors

Split-jamb, pre-hung interior doors feature jambs that are literally split in half lengthwise. The trim casing is already attached to each edge of the jamb. That means you don't have to fumble around trying to make perfectly matched mitered corners – it's already done for you.

 

Installing a Cable TV Jack

You've probably seen cable-TV installations where the bare coaxial cable simply enters a room via a crude hole drilled through the floor or a baseboard (maybe you've seen them in your own house!). They're functional but not too decorative. For a more finished and permanent installation, do the job right and install a bona-fide wall jack.

 

Installing Coaxial TV Cable

It sure would be nice to have cable TV in that spare bedroom you've converted into an office. But before you pay the cable guy for coming to your house and
extending your cable run, see how you can spend an hour doing it yourself. With the money you'll save, it'll be like getting a month or two of free cable!

 

Installing a Programmable Thermostat

Forget the stock market. Few hour-long home-improvement projects will pay year-in, year-out cost-savings dividends like replacing your old thermostat with a new programmable - or "automatic setback" - model. Depending on the severity of the winters where you live, you could realize a savings of up to 35 percent on your yearly energy bills. Who wouldn't want to do that?

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

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