How to Fix A Screw Hole That is Too Big — 14 Tested Methods

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When making screw holes, it’s relatively common to make mistakes. Indeed, you have experienced making a screw hole that’s a smidge too large than you need.

In that case, learning how to fix a screw hole that is too big would serve you well! So, check out the guide that I’ve prepared below.

Method #1: Toothpicks Or Matches

If you find yourself with an oversized hole, among the methods you can consider to help fix it is the simple yet famous toothpick trick.

Although not a professional fix, using toothpicks or matches to fill screw holes to make them smaller is a long, tested, and overused method by now.


fixing wood hole using drill


You will need to fill the hole using reliable liquid wood glue. Before it dries, quickly insert toothpicks or matches into the screw hole. 

Jam it entirely with the matches and toothpicks, then let the glue dry. Ensure you trim any protruding parts and ends after the glue is set.

Now, using a drill, make new pilot holes. Then, drive in the screw.

Method #2: Filling the Screw Hole with Wood Filler

You can also use wood filler to fix the oversized hole. Here are the steps:

  1. Fill it with a reliable wood glue. Only add enough, as it will cause the glue to spill out.
  2. If you don’t have wood glue, you may use liquid glue as an alternative. Just ensure that it will adhere to the surface.

Can Wood Filler Hold Screws?

Yes, you may screw on most wood fillers. It is a relatively simple process and mostly depends on whether it is completely dried, what wood filler type is used, and how it is filled.

Method #3: Wooden Dowels

You may also use a wooden dowel to fix a screw hole that is too large! The wooden dowel method is quite similar to the toothpick method above. 

using wood filler

However, the main difference between the two methods is that the toothpick process is mainly performed by DIY lovers and beginners who accidentally made a larger screw hole.

On the other hand, professionals tend to prefer using wooden dowels on big projects.



You must first fill the hole with glue. Once it is filled, insert the wooden dowels before the glue sets and dries. 

After jamming dowels into the hole, allow the glue to cure. Once everything is set and stabilized, snap and trim the ends of the wooden dowels.

Finally, drill a new hole much smaller than the previous one. Drive a screw into the new pilot hole.

Method #4: Wood Plug Insertion

Wooden plugs, or hardwood plugs, are usually utilized when drilling directly into the wood surface is necessary. You can fix a screw hole too large using wood plugs!

using wood plugs



Here are the steps to make a wood plug and how to use it to fix the screw with a big hole:

  1. Use a board that closely resembles the grain and color of the board that you will pluck.
  2. Bore a few holes using a plug cutter. This tool is mainly designed to cut out plugs with a bit of taper to make them fit the hole completely.
  3. Cut the plugs and make them the same size as the hole.
  4. Before popping them out, ensure that you mark the end.
  5. Dip the wood plugs into the wood glue.
  6. Align it properly so the grain matches the board’s grain.
  7. After placing it into the large hole, gently tap the plug with a smooth-faced hammer. 
  8. Trim the plugs near the surrounding wood surface using a flush cutting saw.
  9. Make a new pilot hole and drive the screw in.

Method #5: Use Larger Screws

Using the existing hole is the easiest way to get around this issue. If you have a hole from a coat rack, picture hook, or curtain rail, you can use a matching or thicker screw that would fit it.



You must first measure the exact diameter of the opening with a vernier caliper. On the screw diameter, you must add a millimeter for fine-tuning and double-check to ensure the screw has enough grip.

using larger screws on wood holes

For the depth, use a toothpick. Also, add a millimeter to the screw depth.

It is now a matter of finding the correct screw size to fit the entire hole perfectly. Finding the correct length, gauge [1], and size of wood screws can be challenging.

To help, here is a guide you can follow for the perfect screw:

Screw Size

Major Thread Diameter 

(Nearest Fractional Measurement)

Major Thread Diameter


















































Method #6: Use Large Anchors

To fill larger holes, you can always use larger anchors. Below are the steps to follow:

  1. Expand and widen the screw hole to create more space.
  2. Insert the anchors into the bigger hole.
  3. Using a toggle bolt is an excellent choice. Note that this method is primarily for small projects and not for professional use.

Method #7: Utilize Nylon Cable Ties

Follow these steps if you want to use nylon cables:

  1. Choose the length of the nylon cable tie according to the screw hole size. These ties come in sizes between 4 to 52 inches.
  2. Once the nylon cable ties are selected, jam them into the hole and tighten them.
  3. After the hole is completely filled, drive the screw in. Due to the nylon cable’s support, the screw will gain a tighter grip and better traction.
utilizing nylon cable ties

Method #8: Rawl Plug Insertion

Wall plugs, or Rawl plugs are plastic inserts that can offer a better grip. Here is how you can install them on larger screw holes:

  1. Please choose the correct size of the rawl plug and coat it with glue.
  2. Tap the plug into the hole.
  3. Squeeze in some wood glue in the middle for better adhesion.
  4. Let the glue cure and dry.
  5. Drill a small pilot hole in the plug.
  6. Drive in the screw.

Method #9: Relocate the Screw Hole

If any of the methods above haven’t worked to fix the oversized holes, you can try relocating the hole. Here’s how:

  1. Repair the old hole using a spackle or wood filler.
  2. While the spackle is curing, start screwing a smaller hole in a new position.
  3. Redrill the new hole above or below the larger hole.
  4. Once the spackle is dry, use a sanding pad to sand the surface.

Method #10: Use a Golf Tee

If you have a spare golf tee, you might find a good use for it. The golf tee method is another suitable method to fix this issue.

Note that you cannot use this method if the screw holes need to hold a lot of stress and weight.

Method #11: Steel Wool

The steel wool method is a procedure that will work best on screw holes with light loads. Just tightly pack and jam the steel wool into the hole using a screwdriver. 

If you don’t have the tool yet, here’s my recommended screwdriver set for various projects!

Method #12: Use Toilet Paper & Wood Glue

Combining wood glue with toilet paper can create a useful substance for filling gaps in wood. Simply pour a small amount of glue, equivalent to a bottle cap, and incorporate torn tissue paper shreds until it forms a texture resembling clay.

using tissue on wood hole

Method #13: Make Use of Wood Putty

Steel-reinforced epoxy putty can hide screw holes well! However, it is only a good match for smaller projects with lighter loads.

Here is what you should do:

  1. Apply the wood putty and make sure that the hole is filled. Let it set and cure.
  2. Once dried, drill a hole and drive in a new screw.
applying putty on wood

Method #14: Utilize Pinewood Shim

For this, you will need a pinewood and a sharp knife. The pinewood needs to be trimmed into a pointed shape, so break-away screws are also ideal for this.

Coat with wood glue and place into the hole. Wait for it to dry before cutting the pine with a chisel or putty knife. 

Drill a hole into the fixed spot and insert the new screw.

How Do You Fill Holes To Screw In Again?

Supplies needed are:

drilling wood holes

You can use the following steps as a guide:

  1. Measure the depth and diameter of the hole.
  2. Add some glue.
  3. Insert wood fillers, toothpicks, plugs, or dowels into the hole.
  4. Let the glue dry.
  5. Sand the uneven wood fibers.
  6. Drill a new hole and ensure you don’t use the wrong drill bit.
  7. Find the correct size screw and ensure that the screw fit tightly into the drilled hole.

Making Screw Holes Tighter

You can make the hole tighter by inserting fillers like wooden plugs, wood putty, nylon cable ties, toothpicks, toggle bolts, matches, steel wool, golf tee, pinewood shim, and rawl plug.

Making Screw Holes in Metal Smaller

While a few options above can make screw holes on metal smaller, the more effective method is cold weld epoxy like JB weld. Fill the hole with the weld epoxy using the instructions it came with.

Making Screw Holes in Drywalls Smaller

making screw holes

When the hole is in drywall, you can patch up the hole and drive in a longer screw on top of it. Just ensure that it doesn’t have the same diameter and that the grip is tight and firm.

See These Posts Next


If you made a mistake by choosing the wrong drill bits, you still have a few options to correct it. 

I’ve tried and tested various methods on how to fix a screw hole that is too big. Whether you decide to relocate the hole or fill it to the brim, the techniques I’ve discussed should help you solve that oversized screw hole dilemma!

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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