Using Epoxy To Repair An Old Screw Hole: Can You Screw Into Epoxy?


drill bit going into wood

If you’re repairing rotten wood and want to screw into it or you’ve stripped-off an existing screw and are wondering whether wood epoxy might help, then we’ve got some good news for you. Wood epoxy may be exactly what you need. We’ll show you how to ensure you get the best purchase for your screws under any circumstances. 

Can you screw into wood epoxy? Under certain circumstances, yes, you can and the bond that it forms will often be stronger than the wood it replaces. However, you must make sure that you use the right kind of wood epoxy and that the screw hole itself is suitable for using wood epoxy on.

What Is Wood Epoxy And How Does It Work?

Epoxy resin is, in fact, not a single compound but rather a group of plastic compounds. They come in two parts, resin and a hardener, which when combined create a tough, chemical and water-resistant polymer (plastic). 

The name “epoxy” comes from the “epoxide” groups of atoms in the molecules of the resin. 

Epoxy resin has many different uses and it can be used as an adhesive, a binding agent, to produce foam, to create surface coatings, and it can also be used in woodwork. 

Wood epoxy is an epoxy resin chosen for woodwork

One of the reasons it is often chosen for woodwork is that, when used correctly, wood epoxy can add strength to the wood that it is used with. 

However, it’s important to choose the right context of use when working with wood epoxy and to remember that it cannot work miracles, either. That means you need to be sure before you begin, whether the application you have in mind for wood epoxy is going to be suitable for it.

The Reasons You Might Want To Screw Into Wood Epoxy

Wood epoxy is often used as a filler agent in woodworking. The purpose is to replace wood that has been lost to rot or another form of damage. 

When it comes to screwing into wood epoxy, the most common application is going to be when a screw loses a thread and you’re trying to shore up a hinge of some form.

However, it’s also possible that you might want to create a screw hole where none existed before

Can You Screw Into Wood Epoxy?

Can you screw into wood epoxy? Yes, you can and, in fact, when you screw into wood epoxy in the right circumstances – you can create a stronger platform for the screw than the original wood might have offered.

However, the key here is “in the right circumstances”. 

While wood epoxy is an excellent filler, there are limitations on its use and, in particular, you may find that there are circumstances where you cannot get enough filler into the hole (so that the final product does not go deep enough to screw into successfully) or you cannot get the filler to bond well enough with the wood to hold a screw effectively.

How To Screw Into Wood Epoxy

Before you start to fill your hole in preparation for drilling, you want to make sure that the wood epoxy you buy is suitable for screwing into. Most will be but some will not.

The easiest way to check this is to visit your local hardware store and get their assistance in choosing the right wood epoxy. 

An epoxy that is too hard when it sets will offer a very strong purchase for the screw, but it will lead to issues down the line as the epoxy may start to break or crack over time.

An epoxy that is too elastic, on the other hand, won’t cause cracking but it will lead to a much weaker joint and that’s something to be avoided too.

So, you want an epoxy that sits between these two extremes which incorporate some elasticity and some hardness to offer the screw. This needs to be an epoxy which won’t crack, and which won’t be too weak for a long-serving joint.

Check The Depth Of The Screw Holes

One thing you need to check, if you’re filling an existing hole, is whether it’s deep enough to accommodate the entire screw. Wood epoxy works best for a screw when the entire screw is held within the epoxy.

If you’re simply filling in rotted wood and creating a new hole, you should be fine but if you’re looking to repair an existing screw hole where the screw has stripped out, then you’re going to need to take a close look at the hole. 

If the screw hole is deep enough to be filled with epoxy, then follow our process here (if it is not that deep, skip to the section “what to do if wood epoxy doesn’t work”):

  • Fill the hole with the epoxy resin (after mixing the two parts) and then allow them to cure. 
  • Once the epoxy has hardened, drill a pilot hole that is a little smaller than the screw you intend to use, this is to create a hole that you can drill into without the drill bit skipping over the surface of the epoxy.
  • Once you have your pilot hole, you can then proceed to screw in the screw. 

Fortunately, when wood epoxy is suitable for placing your screws, it will provide an extremely reliable purchase for them. Wood epoxy doesn’t rot, unlike wood, so you shouldn’t have to repeat this job. 

What To Do If Wood Epoxy Doesn’t Work

Wood epoxy is going to be fine for most cases where you’re working with rotted wood and are now adding new fixings. 

However, it’s going to struggle when you’re trying to re-screw a hole where the thread has been stripped out and the hole is not deep enough to be completely filled with the epoxy resin. 

If this is the case with your hole, then you can try these four alternative methods:

Using A Bigger Screw

One of the easiest ways to replace a stripped-out screw is to take a screw with a slightly larger diameter (and, ideally, a little longer too) than the original screw. The threads on the new screw ought to be coarser or similar to those on the old screw. 

That means you want fewer threads per inch on the new screw if at all possible. Why? So, that when you attempt to push the new screw into the old hole, it will have a chance to bite into new fresh wood rather than trying to use the wood from which the old screw has just been stripped from.

You don’t, however, want a screw that’s so much bigger than the hole that it will split your wood when you push it in. So, don’t go up more than a couple of gauge sizes when you select the screw. 

As the hole has already been damaged, you need to be careful when you try to screw in the new screw – use the minimum force necessary or you may just damage the wood further.

Get Some Toothpicks

Toothpicks can be really helpful when trying to screw into a softwood. Add a few drops of glue to the hole and then fill it with wooden toothpicks (or if you prefer you can use a hardwood dowel if the hole is particularly large). Then snap them off so that they run flush with the wood. 

Sand over the top to give them a smooth finish and then screw into the toothpicks.

Use A Hardwood Plug

There are certain materials such as Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) and particleboard that don’t do well with any kind of filler. Annoyingly, they also seem to be among the most prone to stripping screw holes. 

Because they consist of nothing but tiny particles bonded together when a screwed joint is put under pressure, they tear easily. 

So, the best way to deal with these problems is to drill out the hole to about ½” and then use a ½” hardwood plug (pick them up from your local hardware store) to fill the gap and glue it in place.

Leave it for 24 hours before you try to drill into it for your screw.

Screw Repair Kits?

We have to mention them because if all else fails a manufacturer’s “screw repair kit” might offer a solution but we doubt it. Most of the time they’re just a plastic anchor or two and some glue. 

You can glue the anchors into the hole and then reattach the screw into the surface they provide for the threads. Unfortunately, we’ve always found them to be very weak and if you’re using them on a heavy joint – they will fail again and quickly.

Given that a “screw repair kit” is by far the most expensive solution, it’s best avoided unless you have tried everything else.

Conclusion

Can you screw into wood epoxy? Yes, you can though you should always make sure the hole is deep enough to allow the screw to fill the epoxy. If not, then there are four other methods you can try to attach your screw instead. 

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