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Questions on the toothpick method for screw holes

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Shroom, Aug 16, 2007.


  1. Shroom

    Shroom

    Dec 12, 2006
    So, I'm gonna install some strap locks soon, and I figure I'll use the toothpick method. After my toothpicks and wood glue are dried and everything, do I just screw straight in, or do I drill a new hole first and then screw in?

    Also, what are the chances that the hole will get stripped again if I do it this way? Is there a better way to do it?
     
  2. Well, I put the toothpicks in the hole then I put the glue in. I wait for about a half hour and then screw in the screw. I let it dry overnight and it is ready to use. I have been doing it this way for about 20 years have had no problems.
     
  3. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    I put a replacement strap button on my step son's guitar yesterday. Here's exactly what I did.

    I put just a bit of Super Glue Gel in the screw hole, then I broke a round toothpick in half and split it down the middle with a sharp knife so that I had tooth pick quarters - each half the full length and with a flat side and a round side. I put the two toothpick pieces in the screw hole opposite each other with the round sides fitting the round edges of the screw hole, the flat sides of course facing each other.

    Then I put the screw through the strap button and the felt, put a tiny drop of super glue on the tip of the screw, and then installed the strap button. The screw came nice and tight and I was done.

    I told the kid not to hang it from a strap until the next day and I'm confident that it will hold up for a very long time.

    For the record, I believe that it could have been used on a strap immediately and we really wouldn't have had a problem - but whenever possible, I like to error to the side of caution.
     
  4. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Question: Is the glue really necessary? Anybody had success doing the toothpick-stuffing without the glue?
     
  5. Shroom

    Shroom

    Dec 12, 2006
    Hmm.. sounds like good advice so far. Thank you guys. I forgot to add though, that I'm planning on doing some guitar spins and whatnot, so I'd like to know if the tooth picks could stand up to that.
     
  6. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Probably not.

    I have used toothpicks in stripped out screw holes without using glue on some other things around the house - but I will always use the glue on a strap button that has failed.

    If the door for the kitchen cupboard fails again after I've fixed it, it's not going to come crashing to the ground and ruin my day like it would if it was my bass.
     
  7. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    For the record, I have installed Schaller strap locks on my Geddy Lee Jazz bass. The stock screws that came with the bass were exactly the same size as the screws provided with the strap locks. EXACTLY the same, and they fit perfectly. I was almost surprised, because if you read too much Talkbass, that just isn't supposed to happen. Based on my reading at TB, I thought the screws were always a problem. That is not the case.

    Don't get too worked up about fixing a problem that you don't even know if you're going to have.
     
  8. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001

    Is the hole stripped now?
     
  9. Thor

    Thor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    The glue is not totally neccessary but its highly recommended.

    Here are my thoughts on why.

    Wood is a soft material. Softer than steel. When you put a l
    ot of strain on a screw in wood, you can deform the softer
    surfaces of the wood that form the female portion of the
    screw mechanism. The wood has had a self tapping 'thread'
    created in it.

    When the wood deforms, it can compress slighty, leaving
    'slop' in the hole.

    Putting in the toothpicks is a down and dirty way of adding
    more material into the hole, and the screw, when reinserted
    expands outwards, tightening against the former screw thread and
    creating a new, tighter thread.

    The glue serves two functions. First it binds the extra wood you added
    in. If and when you remove the strap button, the new wood
    doesn't fall out, and secondly, it hardens the area where you
    added the wood. Both of these are desirable in the repair.

    The toothpick method is a quick substitute for drilling the
    hole out, inserting and gluing in a dowel and drilling a new pilot
    hole. It works just as well and is a lot faster.
     
  10. Shroom

    Shroom

    Dec 12, 2006
    I think most of the threads are stripped except for those deepest into the hole. The current screw only holds when its screwed TIGHTLY and all the way into the hole. To give you an idea of what I mean: I had a washer in addition to the strap button and strap that the screw held before, but now if i put the washer on there the screw can't reach the few threads that are still in the hole and it just slides out.
     
  11. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Sounds stripped then. The toothpick trick should work just fine. Should be just as strong as if the hole was never stripped if you use glue.

    I already stated that I always use glue on bass/guitar repairs - but if you plan on doing "guitar spins" make sure to use good glue along with the toothpicks. BTW, I hope you have a wireless or you're going to get wrapped up in your instrument cable!;)
     
  12. I’ve always used the drill and plug method myself. Drill out slightly over size then plug with a hard wood dowel (just a tiny bit larger than the original hole). Put in a drop of superglue, drill a smaller diameter starter hole and your all set. Lasts a lot longer and is more pro looking than tooth picks.

    Fwiw: I’ve always thought of the tooth pick method as being akin to safety pins and duct tape, it’ll get you by until you can do it right.

    MM
     
  13. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    If you repair a stripped screw hole with toothpicks, it doesn't show. You can't see the repair unless you remove the strap button, and even then, you'd have to really take a good look to see it. I can't think of a single reason that a stripped screw hole repaired with toothpicks would not last a life time.

    For the record, I didn't learn the toothpick method from TB or in regards to bass or guitar repairs...

    I learned it from my grandfather when I was a child. He was an expert woodworker and widely known as the best restorer of valuable antique furniture in the area. He taught me that when a screw hole is stripped, this is the right way to handle it. (the wrong way being to just use a slightly larger screw)

    Remember, when you do this, the toothpicks are inside the hole and there is a screw in there too. This repair doesn't "show" at all.

    Grandpa always said it was stronger than before.
     
  14. The glue is unnecessary. Just put a toothpick or two in the hole, it works just like a lag screw and lead shield in concrete. If you do glue, then make sure it is dry before installing the screw or you may never get it out.
     
  15. Thor

    Thor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    You will get it out no problem. The wood glue does not bond
    very well at all to the steel, but it does set the additional
    material in and bond that together forming a tighter thread.

    Is it necessary? No.

    But it will be a better and stronger repair with glue.

    I didn't learn it here either, I learned it in wood shop and
    by experience. Same way I learned to lube tight screws with
    soap. Some techniques work well, no need to reinvent the
    wheel.
     
  16. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Yeah, I just had the same experience with my Jack Casady. Whenever I previously have purchased Schaller-style straplocks, the new screws have been smaller ("skinnier") than the originals -- and the original screws couldn't be re-used because they didn't fit through the opening in the lock. But the set I bought most recently came with screws that were at least as large (maybe even slightly larger) as the original strap-button screws, and I was able to screw on the lock without any toothpicks or other mods. It feels every bit as solid as the original buttons did.

    Apparently, either the manufacturers have changed the size screws they use for the straplocks (in response to what have probably been incessant complaints about too-small screws), or straplocks by different manufacturers are different and we're having different experiences with different brands. Anybody know which? I'd sure like to know for future reference.
     
  17. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    About the only way it would be more pro looking would be if you took the button back off to show your handywork;)

    The toothpick method IME will get you by, period. With or without glue. I haven't had to do one twice yet and some I've done twenty years ago.
     
  18. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    The reason I never used glue was because it softened the wood and slowed down the repair process. If you didn't let it dry there'd be less pressure on the screw. I always fill the hole with toothpicks and it can't help but be a much tighter fit than before, the screw cuts into the toothpicks and forces them into the sides of the hole. Do it right and they don't come out.
     
  19. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    "Also, what are the chances that the hole will get stripped again if I do it this way? Is there a better way to do it?"

    Before you can answer these questions, you have to know why the screw stripped out to start with.

    The screw stripped because it was being used in the end grain of the wood, rather than the cross grain.

    When you jam toothpicks into the hole, you are repairing an end grain fastening problem with a solution that creates still another end grain situation. You end up with exactly the same joint, that is prone to failure, that the bass began with.

    The way to correct the problem is to screw into cross grain wood.
     
  20. I have used toothpicks as both an emergency fix at gigs and as a permanent fix. While glue is beneficial and will likely make the fix more sturdy, it is not neccessary. As was stated earlier, all your doing is filling a gap with material. You could feasibly fill the hole with epoxy, let it dry, then drill a pilot hole to accomplish the same thing; but it would be a lot harder without much advantage.

    One thing I would caution about, superglue is probably not the right glue to use. While it does have great holding strength, it is brittle. The repeated pulling on the strap button screw could break it. A good wood glue is probably a better choice. You probably won't even have to wait for it to dry, as it is the pressure of the added toothpick width that is holding the screw in.
     

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