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Ask a pro: Loose hinges
Over the years, I have had to repair many door hinges in our home that have been damaged through use; we have six children who all went through a door-slamming phase. There comes a time when the screws holding the hinges onto the door work themselves loose, and I've found that the traditional solution of putting toothpicks in them doesn't work anymore.
Is there a more permanent fix? Complicating things is the fact that most of the doors in need of repair have hollow cores. — Gerrit Pinnell, Calgary
You’ve discovered the downside to the toothpick-in-the-screw-hole trick: you can only use it so many times before it won’t work anymore. Fortunately, there is another easy fix for this hinge problem. Using a standard 3/8″-diameter drill bit, drill the holes all the way through the door frame and then do the same through the door edges and into the core of the door. Spread a layer of wood glue inside the holes with a small brush or a cotton swab.
Next, tap a 3/8″-diameter fluted dowel into each of the holes you created. Allow the glue to cure fully, and then trim any protruding dowels flush. (The best tool here is a sharp chisel.) Finally, drill new holes to accept the hinge screws and reinstall the hinges. Because the fluted dowels are made from compressed wood, they will swell upon contact with the glue, creating a perfect fit and a strong repair that will likely outlast the door itself.