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MMD > Archives > May 2004 > 2004.05.05 > 01Prev  Next

Stripped Screw Holes & Plastic Cable Ties
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  Here's a "Johnny-Come-Lately" observation regarding all
of the techniques that have been graciously submitted on the topic,
"Stripped Screw Holes in Wood".

As other authors have previously alluded to, there is a time and
a place for just about any technique that accomplishes a task and
doesn't do further damage.  And in that regard, I'll admit that
I picked up two new 'tips and tricks' over the past week that I've
already had occasions to try.

One of the 'tips' was the one submitted by Art Reblitz.  I never
considered installing a plug or a dowel from the backside of a hole.
Nor would I have consider leaving a layer of the existing wood between
the 'top' and the plug to prevent the plug from pulling out (or up).
Thanks, Art!

The second 'trick' was the one submitted by Damon Atchison.  What's
interesting about this technique is that I initially felt it was too
un-professional, and therefore highly suspect.  However, I was wrong!
It turned out to be a very successful 'quick fix' and, as needs be,
I will use it again, and again.

The technique involved, of all things, plastic spot ties (or cable
ties).  Let me explain.  Being involved with all types of player
mechanisms (pneumatic and digital), I carry a wide variety of spot ties
with me at all times.  I've found that they can be used in numerous
situations to quickly tighten up a hose, temporarily or permanently
hold things together, keep things in order, or to keep things out of
the way of other things.  However, I never considered using them to
deal with stripped screw holes.

So, I gave them a try, and I must say I was impressed.  In fact,
I was so impressed that I decided to figure out why they worked so
well.  Here's what I found -- see if you don't agree.

First, plastic spot ties come in all sizes, so selecting the most
appropriate size for the job is quite easy.  Second they conform or
bend to the hole because they are comparatively thin and flexible.
Third (and this is where it gets a little 'magical'), they have tiny
little one-way teeth on one side that act like mini-anchors which grab
onto the wood once the screw is screwed in.  Fourth, the screw cuts
threads into the flat side of the tie, creating a surprisingly tight

Mind you, I won't use this technique when I'm rebuilding a device here
in the shop.  However, when I'm on the road and I need a 'quick fix'
for a stripped screw hole, I won't hesitate to break out my assortment
of plastic spot ties.

And here's two other assets about these little wonders.  One, since
there's no glue involved, you don't have to wait for anything to dry.
Two, they can be easily removed when it's time to do a professional
repair.  In fact, it's because of those assets that I was able to
figure out exactly why they do work so well.  After trying one,
I simply removed the screw and then I pulled out the piece of spot
tie with needle nose pliers.  Then I examined the hole and the piece
of spot tie.

(By the way, I did the experimenting at the shop, and I purposefully
stripped out a screw hole with a power drill.  It also dawned on me
later that plastic screw anchors are commonly used with sheet rock
[wall board], which is not nearly as strong as wood.  Hmmm!)

Besides learning a new 'trick' that really works, what else did
I learn from this experience?

Don't be too quick to judge what others say has worked for them if
you've never tried it; there just might be a time and a place where
it will work for you too.  Thanks, Damon!

One last word.  I would not recommend this technique if the wood is
already cracked or splitting.


John A. Tuttle
Brick, NJ, USA

P.S. Portions of this posting might be used to create another
"Tips & Tricks" web page at

(Message sent Wed 5 May 2004, 15:45:42 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Cable, Holes, Plastic, Screw, Stripped, Ties

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