What To Do When You Have a Screw Loose.

yes, um ... this isn't exactly how it goes in our home.

There are 2 ways to fix things.  The right way and the “that’ll do for now” way.  This post is going to focus on the “that’ll do for now” way, which isn’t necessarily my fix-it method  of choice, but seriously … if I did everything “the right way” I wouldn’t have any time to focus on things I prefer to do.  Like sitting on the couch, watching endless hours of Mythbusters in my underpants.  Oops … that’s not me, that’s the fella.

There are so many things to do when you own a house.  This is especially true when you’re a) incredibly cheap b) incredibly bossy and c) a teensy bit of a control freak.  Could you read that last line again for me, please … I want to make sure you read it right.

I don’t necessarily want to condone fixing things the quick way, but if I’m doing the work in my house myself, the odd time I can handle “that’ll do for now”.  When I’m paying someone to do some work at my house and I get “that’ll do for now” I have what can only be described as a hairy fit.  I am paying you … if you don’t do a better job than I could do myself  you’re gonna hear about it.  In fact, the people swimming underwater in the community pool 3 towns over are gonna hear about it.

So, onto the matter at hand.  Several years ago a neighbour built a little fence around my house and it’s stood up well.  Very well.  The only thing that repeatedly goes asunder is the gate latch.  Every couple of years the latch comes loose.  Basically the hole for the screw just gets too big for the screw from all the pushing and pulling on the gate.  Too much action just stretches out the hole.  You know, like the same thing that happens to promiscuous women’s hoo hoos.

When a screw doesn’t fit snugly into it’s hole anymore and I don’t have time to fix it properly (which in this case would involve taking the gate apart and replacing the top brace) I use this quick trick to get me through another few months.

Tightening up a loose screw in wood:

Find yourself a loose screw.  This screw is loose from all the wiggling of the latch back and forth over the years.  The hole is now too big for the screw.

As you can see my gate is a mess.  Unscrew the screw and then find a stick that fits very snugly into the screw’s hole.  It’s best if you find a stick that graduates in size so that it gets gradually fatter.  As most sticks do.   Shove it by hand into the hole until it seems too thick to go in anymore.  (this is sounding like sexy talk but it isn’t)

Cut the branch off, leaving a little more than 1/4″ hanging out.

Hammer the stick in until it’s flush.

Screw your screw back in, making sure it’s going through the centre of your stick.

Tighten everything up and you’re good to go.  And come.  And go and come and go and come. (again with the sexy talk)  That’s a perfectly operating gate now.

Remember, that this fix-it for now method, isn’t just restricted to miserable looking gates.  Anywhere you have a loose screw in wood, you can use this trick. For added strength run some wood glue around the stick before you put it in.  Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go call my mother to apologize for using the word hoo hoo.

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  1. Nearlydawn says:

    Love the “it’ll do for now” fix, I’ve used this one myself! One note though…I think that your fix won’t really work, since what is causing the failure isn’t the sexy coming and going, it is that the top of the post is split. Im hoping you saw that already, and will be adding some sort of bracket or brace to the fix, or this fix will actually cause you to have to replace the whole board/post rather soon.

    • Karen says:

      Nearlydawn – LOL. That’s funny! I actually wrote that post over a year ago. And the quick fix lasted exactly a year. I fixed it for real this fall. ~ karen!

  2. HeidiRenee says:

    okay – my comment jumped to another page – so if you can find it it’s supposed to go here – strange.

    it said something like “I have used toothpicks for drawer pulls – one on each side of the screw usually gives it enough grab to make the pull work again.” or something like that. so random comment about toothpicks on another post was supposed to end up here :)

  3. Mike says:

    After finishing with the gate, make yourself a nice hot cup of coffee, relax on the couch, setting the coffee on–what else?–your coffee table. Then, damned if there isn’t a whitish ghost on the table, a kind of coffee poltergeist. Now what? Help me out here Karen.

  4. Langela says:

    I usually wait until my husband leaves for work before I get online (so I don’t waste our alone time). I had to get online early this morning, so I went ahead and checked your post. He looks over and asks what I am looking at. I say that I am learning how to fix a loose screw. His response was,” You have a screw loose?” It wasn’t exactly a question. In fact it was more of a statement. I would be depressed that my beloved actually stated to my face that I have a screw loose, except that you used the words hoo hoo. You crack me up and keep me from depression.

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