How to Fix a Loose Door Hinge With Toothpicks and Glue

Step 1 – Determine What Needs to be Done

While working on another project take a few minutes to check out the doors. Do they swing into place well or do they seem to have slack? Also look to see if they squeak or do not completely meet in the middle well any more. If they are crooked they give the entire kitchen an off kilter, or worn look. If this is the case they need to be readjusted or tightened. Look to see if the hinge screws are too small for a regular screw driver or drill bit. If this is the case and tightening the screws would be problematic then use adhesive only.

Start at the bottom of the cabinet and work your way up. It is also a good idea to start with the bottom most cabinet and work up to the top. As you remove each hinge take a moment to polish them a little to give them a ‘like new’ appearance. Any type of metal polish will usually work fine.

Step 3: Dry Fit Your Dowels to Make Sure They Fit

I dry fitted the dowels to make sure the holes fit right before I added glue to the mix.  They fit perfectly.  Snug, but not overly tight.  In other words, they didn’t wiggle around, but there’s room for glue in there.   Don’t push them in all the way, or you won’t get them back out to add glue.  🙂  If you did push them in too far, since this is a hollow core door, you could in theory push them all the way in, and they’d fall into the cavity inside the door if all else failed, and you’d just have to go cut yourself some new dowels.


Step 6: The Way-aiting Is the Hardest Part

At this point I read my glue bottle to see how long I have to wait before reattaching the hinge.  It says not to stress the joint for 24 hours.  Your glue might differ.  Just read your bottle, chill out, and listen to some Tom Petty.  Take photos of stuff and post it to Instructables to kill the time.  Looks like I won’t be moving on to the next step until tomorrow. You can also go ahead and clean up any mess you made up until now.  Wash out your shop brush if you ever want to use it again.  I bought my brushes in a big bag at a store called Harbor Freight for next to nothing, but I still like to take care of them.

3. Reinstall the Hinge Pin

Ask a helper to hold up the door and align the pin barrel on both halves of the hinge. Tap the hinge pin back into the door with a hammer at the top of the pin barrel. If the hinge pin falls out again, set the head pin on a hard work surface and tap the mid-point of the pin with a hammer to make a shallow bend in the pin. Tap the pin back in place and the shallow bend will keep the pin in place in the hinge barrel.

How to Adjust Loose Cabinet Hinges:

Read More About Cabinet Hardware: How to Upgrade to Soft-Close Cabinets How to Locate Cabinet Knobs and Pulls Butterfly Hinges Perfect for Cabinet Upgrades

  1. Open the cabinet door.
  2. With a screwdriver, tighten and adjust the screws on the cabinet door hinges.
  3. Close the door to check tension and alignment.
  4. Continue adjusting screws on the cabinet and then the door until the door is no longer loose and closes properly.

5. Prepare and Apply Wood Filler

Mix a small ball of wood filler with a 3/4-inch bead of the hardener. Apply the mixed wood filler onto the screw holes in a thin layer with a putty knife and continue to add thin layers until all of the gaps in the dowel-filled screw holes are filled, advises Minwax. It is fine to overfill the holes slightly, as the product may shrink upon hardening, and it will be sanded down. Wait 30 minutes for the wood putty to cure and then sand the filled holes to make the surface smooth and even.

What You Need To Do

If you notice that the door is still sagging after tightening the hinge screws, then it means that there is a problem of widened holes that must be patched. Repair one screw hole at a time to prevent you from removing/changing the entire door and to save you valuable time and energy. This is how you need to do it: Tool You’ll Need

  1. 3-in (zinc plated) screw
  2. Carpenters glue
  3. Drill Machine
  4. Hammer
  5. Screwdriver
  6. Screws
  7. A smaller drill bit (to drill new holes after the existing holes have been patched)

Getting Started

All you have to do is replace the hinge screw of ¾ inch with a 3-inch hinge screw that easily goes through the points, hence becoming the anchor in the frame to give a tight grip.

The method for tightening loose door hinges is quite simple. First, you’ll need to find the loose screws and remove them. Then, you’ll need to dip the bare end of a wooden match in same carpenter’s glue and hammer it all the way in, pushing it as far as it goes. Break or even cut off the match flush with the hinge plate and remove the heads.

Step 1 – Before removing the screw and letting go of the door, you need to give it firm support by holding or putting a heavy object in front so that it does not fall off.

Step 2 – Remove the screws carefully with the help of screw screwdriver or drill machine in reverse action.

Step 3 – In order to fill the extra gap in the hole, dip the bare end of a wooden match into the carpenters glue and push it into the hole with the help of a hammer (if required).

Step 4 – After filling the extra gap in the holes with the wooden matches or dowels, take the screw and the driver of the required shape and size. Start spinning the screws into the holes with pressure so that the screws fit in properly, hence giving the door a good grip.

Step 5 – Don’t rush anything and let the glue dry appropriately as it helps ensure the screws don’t slip because of the wet glue and fit in the right position. Use a damp washcloth to clean the gluey mess around the holes. However, make sure that you do not shove the wooden matches or dowels in too far.

Step 6 – Follow the same steps mentioned above with the next screw-hole to fill the extra gaps and fit the screw in it.

Step 7 – Cross check that all screws are tightly fit and are settled in their holes before you remove the support.

Step 8 – At the end, coat the oil on the hinges to enhance the smoothness of the door, but there is no need to overdo it. Let the oil soak into the wood for a few hours and then reinstall the screws.

What Does Hinge Mean?

The word hinge comes from Middle English and is a derivation of the word hang. When a flap, or movable strap was used to hang anything from a meat carcass to a movable flap or door, the word hinge was derived to differentiate from simply hanging something on a vertical plane, to allowing it to move independently of the object it was linked to.


  • Be very careful when removing the door. It may be heavier than you expect, with three-hinge doors being the heaviest. Without the support of hinges the door will require a lot of control to take down properly.

    Thanks! Helpful 2 Not Helpful


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