Hi All, Time to chime in here. As with almost every job, there
is a good way, a better way, and the best way to get the job done
so it lasts. Stripped screws are no different. The best method
to use depends on the factors involved. To say that any one method
is the best is pure foolishness because a situation will come along
that proves it dead wrong. I could cite numerous examples, but fear
that would be quite boring.
As long as you keep in mind the most basic premise, "Do No Harm",
then you're pretty safe. The question then arises, "How do I know
if I'm doing harm?"
The, perhaps, sad answer is "Test, Test, Test". There are so many
kinds of wood, and so many different situations, that creating a
listing of which methods "might" work best in a particular situation
would boggle the mind, and leave most people more confused then when
they started. So, the wise person starts with the least invasive
method and on from there.
Any technician with more than a few years of experience knows the
exact moment when the screw is starting to strip. In a very real
sense, it's common sense. As you watch the screw being drawn into
the hole by the twisting of the screwdriver, you can see how far it
moves with each rotation. As it gets to the head of the screw, and
if you've been attentive, you know how much further you should have
to twist the driver before the screw should be snug.
Notice that I don't say "tight". Such a work is far to subjective,
and easily misinterpreted. Generally speaking, the torque use to
tighten a wood screw is measure in inch pounds, not foot pounds --
as in automobiles.
By the way, leather rots because of exposure to air. Inside of a hole,
surrounded with wood and metal, leather will last for a century if not
longer. Not that I advocate leather as the best method. I just wanted
to make that point.
Also remember that all wood contains some amount of moisture. Newer
wood contains far more moisture than old wood, and is therefore quite
a bit more forgiving than old wood.
The final point I would like to make is, consider as many of the
factors as you can before diving into the pool of available repair
techniques. You'll thank yourself later.
John A Tuttle