The 7 Best Products to Patch Wood

Sometimes it’s nail holes and sometimes it’s rotten wood, but your projects will often require you to patch wood. In this post I’ll help you determine the best materials (and there are tons available!) to use when the time comes to patch wood projects.

The type of material you should use will depend on what kind of patching or filling you need to do. Is it exterior or interior? Will it be painted or left natural? We’ll focus on answers to those questions as well.

If you want to purchase any of these products I would love it if you bought them through the links in this post which are affiliate links and help me pay to keep The Craftsman Blog running at no extra cost to you. If you decide not to you can always purchase most of these at your local hardware store.

1. Durham’s Water Putty


This product is extremely versatile and is a mainstay of my shop. Mix the powder with water to whatever consistency you need. If you want it to self-level, mix it thinner. If you need it to stick to a vertical surface mix it thicker.

Apply it with a putty knife or whatever tool is most applicable to your project. And let it dry. Drying time varies wildly depending on how big the wood patch is and the weather. Once it is dry sand it smooth, prime, and paint.

Water Putty can work both outdoors and indoors, but without priming and paint, it will mildew and fail rather quickly. The great stuff about Durham’s Water Putty is that as it dries it expands to fill the hole and really sticks into the patch unlike most wood fillers that shrink as they dry.

 

2. MH Ready Patch


As of late, this has become my go to filler to patch wood. It doesn’t work for structural patches like an epoxy, but it does almost everything else. It dries fast, 30-45 mins before it’s ready to sand.

It is an oil-based product but it cleans up with soap and water, which I love! I use it to fill holes up to a quarter in size, smooth out alligatoring paint, fill surface gouges or almost anything else I may need. I really can’t extol the virtues and uses of MH Ready Patch enough.

 

3. Epoxy

There are tons of different types of epoxies for wood. Most of them are two-part systems that are mixed together and quickly harden.

Working with epoxies can be challenging and they aren’t very forgiving of errors, but epoxy repairs are some of the strongest most long-lasting ways to patch wood. They are structural, so they can be used anywhere and are usually not troubled by water issues like some of the putties above.

If you decide to use these, they tend to work best for large repairs and you’ll need to do a little studying and practice before tackling epoxies.

 

4. Wood Filler


Wood filler is available everywhere and it is the standard. Some wood fillers have a sandy consistency and some are smoother. There are interior formulas and exterior as well.

The nice thing about wood filler is that you can usually find it in many different colors or in stainable options to achieve an even better color match. Apply it with a finger tip or putty knife, sand when it’s smooth and prime when you’re done.

 

5. Sawdust & Superglue

This is an old carpenter’s trick to fill nail holes on furniture that will be left unpainted. This method works great for filling small holes in woodwork.

To patch wood using this method, you’ll need sawdust from the specific wood you are patching. Mix it with just a bit of superglue. You don’t need a lot of glue, just enough to bind the sawdust together and create a thick paste. Use a putty knife to push the mixture into the nail holes quickly since superglue dries so quickly. Once it’s dry, sand the surface and you’re good to go.

 

6. DAP Painter’s Putty


This putty excels at filling nail holes and other small spots. The thing I love about it is that it doesn’t require sanding. Use your finger to push it into the hole and then smooth the surface level with your finger.

This is an oil-based putty which makes it fairly slow drying, especially if it is primed or painted with an oil-based paint. That slow drying aspect means that it remains flexible for a longer period which is very helpful. The negatives are that it doesn’t do well in large gaps and also has a tendency to make your paint “flash” if not primed.

 

7. KwikWood


Anyone who does wood repair should have a tube of this sitting in their shop or garage. This is a very simple to use 2-part epoxy that you mix with your hands. It is kind of like squishing a tootsie roll together to mix both parts. Once you mix it, you have about 10 minutes before it starts to set up and in 20-30 mins, it is hard as a rock.

I use it to form difficult profiles that I need to sculpt or as a structural repair. Its fast drying time and resistance to rot and mildew make it perfect for exterior repairs. I have used it outdoors and left it unpainted for years with no problem. It’s a champ and a real time saver!

 

You may have a different product or technique that I didn’t mention, and if you do let us know about it in the comments. Hopefully, this post has given you some great new products to try. I know these will make your projects go smoother and look better. Happy patching!

 

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by Scott Sidler

Scott is the owner of Austin Home Restorations, a company that specializes in renovating and restoring historic homes in Orlando, FL and the creator of The Craftsman Blog. When not working on, teaching about or writing about old houses he spends time fixing up his own old bungalow with his wife Delores and son Charley.

http://www.austinhomerestorations.com

7 comments

  1. Kent Hartle on said:

    Scott, I found your blog article interesting, however still many options. I am looking to fill plywood kitchen cabinet door fronts that were routed with a design box type line on the front thirty years ago , but we want to make flat and paint to bring up to more current designs. Considering a thin laminent sheet or fill sand and paint. Do you think one of the fillers that you mentioned would work well for the fill sand and paint approach?

    Thank you for your thoughts!

    Kent

    • Kent, when we build cabinets we typically use Bondo to fill and sand holes. As long as it won’t be exposed to the elements.

  2. linda on said:

    Hi, I found this site by google search and I was wondering if I can repair wood railings that are splintering with KwikWood? I need to put a layer of something down and sand and paint. Thanks for your help.

    • Linda, welcome to The Craftsman! Kwikwood works best to fill gouges in the wood surface. Depending on what kind of splintering exactly you may need something different. It may also just need a good sanding and refinishing. Send a picture if you can and I might be able to help you a bit more.

  3. Marv Curtis on said:

    Scott, I need to fill some holes in a antique convertible top bow. The bow is where they tack the canvas top to. The bow is structurally sound, but one side is peppered with holes. My question is, is there a filler that when I’m done it will hold tacks again and not just crack and fall out?

    Thank you in advance
    Marv

    • Marv, try an epoxy like the WoodEpox and LiquidWood combination by Abatron. Kwikwood would likely do the trick as well. Sand it smooth when you’re done and both of these will hold nails well if you fill the holes completely.

      • Marv Curtis on said:

        Thank you Scott. I was hoping you had some suggestions. A replacement bow is $400 and I would much rather spend that else wear.

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