Make Joints in Woodworks DISSAPEAR!! - DIY Wood Filler

Introduction: Make Joints in Woodworks DISSAPEAR!! - DIY Wood Filler

Everybody who has tried to make some woodworking knows the frustration that occurs if some pieces leave a huge gap between them when assembled, or on the contrary, are too tight to fit together. The last case results usually with a piece too big cut/sanded off and still, a huge gap that wrecks the whole work. Or even worse, the workpiece cracks because of the humidity of the air. This can be even more irritating for the brave maker, who thinks that his artwork is now ruined because he/she doesn't have the money to buy some special wood filler (those things cost generally around 10$ a SMALL can - so if you want to have only a nip of it, you need to spend at least 10 bucks for a can, that will be living on a dark dusty shelf the rest of its can-life).

But what if I said you, that you can make your own wood filler, basically for free, in less than five minutes and without a sci-fi futuristic laboratory. And the best part is: it will have a coloring very similar to the repaired workpiece!!

So without any further to do, let's dive in!

Step 1: Watch the Video

If you don't have time to read the whole Instructable, you can simply watch this video. It's 1:25 long and it gives you all the information you need to make the putty.

Step 2: Supplies

Here's what you need for this craft-hack:

  • Some sort of glue (Wood glue/Craft glue - it serves as the binding agent. Almost any type of glue works. I like to use some multipurpose glue, as it's easier to clean than epoxy for example. Also, please use transparent or white glue, as coloured blues can stain the putty, and we don't want that)
  • Sawdust(This can be salvaged from the building of the workpiece - if the sawdust comes from the same wood that the workpiece, the colour will be very similar to the original wood)
  • Gloves (those are optional, but can really save you from a lot of cleaning and problems, if you are using a stronger glue)

Step 3: Gather the Sawdust

First, you need to gather some sawdust. I collected some when I was sanding some planks with a belt sander (those things produce A LOT of very fine sawdust really fast, so they are perfect if you want to get sawdust in bulk).

If you're in search for a perfectly colour matching filler, you should try to gather sawdust from the same workpiece you're working with. Like that, the filler will have almost the same colour as the wood around it, because the filler is made essentially of that same wood (seems pretty obvious).

The quantity of sawdust needed really depends if the size of the crack you want to fill. But keep in mind, that abundance is always better than shortage. For a millimeter large gap a tablespoon is enough. An amount this small can be obtained with a piece of medium grit sandpaper and five minutes to kill. If you plan to renovate your flooring, you'll need to find a more industrial source.

Step 4: Add the Glue - Make the Putty

Now put your sawdust in a disposable container or on a piece of paper (I LOVE to use post-its for this kind of small work). Then, add the glue of your choice, little by little. It a good idea to always mix the mixture to prevent adding too much glue.

*As I said before, almost every type of glue will work, but the PVA glue and the transparent multi purpose superglue work the best for this recipe. They don't dry for too long and don't give the putty weird tints either. Speaking of tints, keep in mind that yellow wood glue will definitely add a yellowish shade to the putty and therefore will make it stand out in the final workpiece.

Keep mixing the mixture until you get a toothpaste like dough, that's easy to stuff into cracks, but thick enough to stay there.

*THIS MIXTURE WONT LAST FOR VERY LONG, even in hermetically closed jar, so don't make too much of it, as the rests are gonna be wasted!

Step 5: Applying the Wood Filler

It's now time to put on your gloves, in case you haven't done it yet.

To stuff the putty into the cracks and cranks, the best method is to cover the working area with the filler and then wipe the excess away. If you're dealing with a larger crack, you may need to repeat this procedure several times.

If you want to get a stronger bond, you also may want to use a toothpick to push the putty deeper into the groove.

The end result should be a completely flat surface. So flat, that you can't tell, we're the crack used to be. Some glues will also shrink when drying. In that case, you should reapply some filler later on, or just build a mountain of putty on the crack (that's gonna be sanded down later on).

*THE PUTTY WILL DRY FAST! So be quick and dont waste time rolling your thumbs. Also, it's better to do the cleaning as soon as possible, because it's going to be a lot easier now, than later on, when the glue has bond itself everywhere.

Step 6: Sanding (and Rasping)

Sanding is usually referred to something annoying and boring, as it consists of making the same movement over and over again, without making any noticeable differences, but not in this case!

When sanding the surface, first, the larger pieces of wood putty will transform into gluerolls and fall away. Then, when sanding the surface further, small particles of sawdust will appear and dissappear almost instantly into the crack, where they will be kept by the glue. This will make the glue stronger and more similar to the real deal (the real wood).

*I used a rasp in the beginning to go faster, but you can also scrape off the excess with a knife or a sharp edge.

Afterwards, it's a good idea to first use a medium grit sandpaper (80) and then a thinner one (120). This will minimise the amount of work, while keeping those nasty deep scratches or of the way.

Step 7: The Conclusion

Well, there you have it, a cheap way to save woodworks or just make them look better/less amateuristic. This method has saved me many times and is definitely worth trying.

BUT you have to keep in mind, that the results of this method aren't as durable and strong as of a professional wood filler. So I wouldn't suggest using it outside or for things that need to be rugged like pocket knives or keychains (that spend a lot of time in a warm, humid pocket or hand). But for inside woodworks this method is perfect.

Also, I'm aware, that the joints don't disappear completely, they're just much less visible. But to make them almost unnoticeable, you'll just need to cover the item with a layer of paint, and it will make the whole thing look like a solid casted unit.

Thank you very much for scrolling this far! If you have any questions or suggestions don't hesitate to leave them in the comments and have a great day! ?



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    26 Discussions


    3 months ago

    It always works for me :-D . Been doing this since the time i started woodworking. I use wood glue as i feel it's stronger. It also takes stain well. I always assumed everyone did this :-D . Guess i was wrong lol

    You should enter this in the woodworking contest...great job!

    1 reply

    Thanks! I can't enter in the woodworking contest with this article, because I published it before the contest began. But maybe I'll write a new article for that contest!

    Should have read this before finishing up my entry lol
    Simple but effective I love it


    3 months ago

    Just a tip: To avoid the dark color when the mix dry, add some drops of lemon juice in the mixture

    have struggled with this.
    when should the stain
    be added to the mixture?
    can't wait to try it. thanks

    Comments are mostly about PVA glue. Would just add that super glue works well with the same result for small imperfections. I do this on wood turning projects for small cracks / knots. The glue goes into the crack first and the dust sprinkled on top. Best to not use the tools again after sanding and application has taken place. (BTW disappear is the correct spelling of your title - sorry, ex English teacher :) ).

    3 replies

    Another consideration is the open working time of the adhesive. Super glue,

    cyanoacrylate family of adhesives, sets up in seconds. PVA glue has a safe open working time of anywhere from 10 - 60 minutes. Mixing and puttying require minutes, seconds is too fast to mix and apply the putty. Sanding super glue is not a good idea without a respirator either.

    I've done this as well with superglue but you need to be careful when sanding the superglue / sawdust mix with an orbital or disk sander because it gets hot quickly and then emmits some absolutely horrible fumes.

    I learned how to do this from the local carpenters as a kid in East Africa, where there was no possibility of getting hold of any professionally made wood filler. I've used it for years but only for projects whereI will be painting over the piece or using really heavy stain. I also find it usefull when inlaying copper or brass into wood.

    For some purposes this is sufficient. However mostly you've changed one type of ugly for another kind of ugly.

    To be more effective:
    * Tint the mix so that it is at least as dark as the darker grain in the wood.
    * Use really fine sawdust.

    * Experiment before doing your good project
    * You can buy furniture repair felt markers that are in effect 6 colours of brown. You can use these to surface colour the filled area after.

    * Tinting works better after a first coat of varnish.

    * If you need to build up a color, put a coat of varnish between each colour coat.

    * Patches like this are less ugly against dark wood. Consider staining the whole thing to a dark colour before you start.

    Patches act like end grain when staining -- they absorb lots of stain and become darker than the wood.

    You may be able to get a better look by using a filler on the entire piece to mute the grain. This will reduce the contrast with the patch.

    3 replies

    I need to comment on the last line of the above information about a better look. The filler mentioned is not what is commonly referred to as wood filler, they are referring to a product of the same name, wood filler, that comes in various sized containers and usually is only available at professional paint stores. In most cases it is supplied in the US in pint, quart and gallon containers and is used mostly by the hardwood floor refinishing trade. It is a heavy bodied product, usually oil based, that must be thoroughly stirred before use. It's usually applied by rag, brush or trowel, allowed to sit for a short time and worked in and removed with burlap or other coarse fabric material. If the wood is to be or has been stained it's best to add some of the same color to the product to help it blend in and eliminate hazing or clouding of the color. It's mostly used on porous hardwoods such as oak to fill in the large pores, reduce the amount of top coat needed and tame the wild grain. Hey, sgbotsford, that might make a good Instructable!

    You are correct. That is a different kind of filler, used to fill the pores in open grain wood. I wasn't clear. My bad.

    Well, thank you very much for this incredibly detailed comment and suggestions! An advice from a master is always appreciated :D

    The sawdust and glue works well. For a small gash in a kitchen door I used dollar store epoxy and sawdust. I taped a small piece of smooth plastic on the face of the door and set it on a smooth block of wood to keep it from bulging out the front and filled it from the back. I put a piece of plastic bag on the epoxy so I could flatten it from the back. After about ten minutes, I peeled everything off and used some 400 grit and higher to finish it. You can still see it, but it is better than the gash.

    1 reply

    In my experience the best results are obtained if you use the glue for glueing parquet.

    I learned this trick eons ago when I was in Jr. High, (now called Middle School), and I have never had to buy wood putty. If you store it in a sealed container, it will last for a few weeks before drying out completely. Before it dries out completely but it's too hard to use, you may be able to save it by adding either more glue or a little water to make it more pliable and useful again. I have used water and it has worked out well, just don't use too much.

    I've used this a lot and it works! Thanks for putting it out there