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The 7 Best Products to Patch Wood

Best Products to Patch Wood

Updated 4/18/2020

What are the best products to patch wood? Well, that largely depends on who you ask. In this post, I’ll give you my take on the 7 best products to patch wood on the market today. As as restoration carpenter I do a lot of wood filling and patching and all of these products have been invaluable to me at one time or another.

Sometimes it’s nail holes and sometimes it’s rotten wood, but your projects will often require you to patch wood. I’ll help you determine the best materials (and there are lots available) to use when the time comes to patch wood on your 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. Are you looking for the best wood filler or something more serious like a structural wood epoxy?

You can also read the results of my 5-year field testing of most of these wood fillers and epoxies at The Wood Filler & Epoxy Test (Year 5) to see how these products performed in the real world as well as to watch the video below.

1. MH Ready Patch

As of late, this has become my go to wood filler to patch small cosmetic issues on wood. It doesn’t work for structural patches like an epoxy, but it does w. It work quite well for things like nail holes and surface scratches. 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 dime in size, smooth out alligatoring paint, surface checks, fill surface gouges or almost anything else I may need. I really can’t extol the virtues and uses of MH Ready Patch enough. Its only weakness is when you try to fill large areas. For that I use the next item on the list.

2. LiquidWood & WoodEpox

Abatron Wood Epox

There are tons of different types of epoxies for wood, but this product by Abatron is by far my favorite. We use this every single day! This system is a permanent solution that you can use for repairs as small as filling small holes to completely rebuilding damaged pieces of wood. The two parts work together to stabilize “punky” wood and fill in the missing areas.

The repairs can be sanded, drilled, planed, and essentially you are left with a repair that performs just like wood but will never rot or fall out. 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 other wood fillers.

Got some serious rot? This is the stuff you need. For info on how to use this awesome product, read my tutorial How To Repair Rotted Wood With Abatron Epoxy.

3. Durham’s Water Putty

This product is extremely popular and it used to be a mainstay of my shop early on. 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 outside. Unlike other wood fillers that shrink as they dry Durham’s Water Putty expands to fill the hole.

I have moved away from it in the recent past because while it is considerably cheaper than Abatron WoodEpox I have found that it’s rock hard characteristics make large patches wiggle free of the wood over time thanks to expansion and contraction.

If you’re on a budget this might be the answer, otherwise I would prefer WoodEpox for large repairs over Water Putty.

4. KwikWood

For strong repairs in a hurry, this product is the best. Anyone who occasionally needs to patch wood 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’s 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 fill screw holes that have stripped out so I can get a sagging door hung again quickly or other task like that. 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!

5. Minwax Wood Filler

Minwax Wood filler is such an easy to use and great product I am constantly surprised by how good it does for how little it costs. In the video above you can see the incredible results I got after a 5 year test with this stuff. It outperformed some epoxies and more expensive products big time.

It’s simple to apply with a finger tip or putty knife, sand when it’s smooth and prime when you’re done. No mixing to screw up. The fact that it’s not structural just means it should be used for larger applications like the Abatron products above. For anything else it excels!

6. 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 or gaps in joinery.

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.

7. 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 a wet 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.

I’d love to hear what your experience has been with these products and if you have other favorites that you’ve found over the years. Are these truly the best products to patch wood?

Whether you’re a woodworker or handyman we all need to patch wood from time to time. Just like you, I’m always looking for the best wood filler out there and I hope this post gets you closer to the goal. Happy patching!

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351 thoughts on “The 7 Best Products to Patch Wood

  1. What is the best to use if the wood is to be stained, not painted. In other words, what product, if any, will accept the stain?

  2. Would be good to know how the newer DAP Platinum Patch compares to MH Ready Patch. They seem to be ver similar products in short time use – but guess you would have to do a long term exposure test to say for sure. I really like the versatility West Systems liquid epoxy resin. Multiple hardeners, can be turned into a paste with wood flour / dust / synthetic fillers. If you are doing a lot of work it’s economical by the gallon compared to Abatron. Finally I will say that System Three is similar to Abatron with a liquid and putty but adds a paste epoxy that is the bomb in certain situations. I had an exterior trim grain issue. The West System with filler would have probably worked as well with but would have required more sanding. With the System Three paste I was able to apply a very thin smooth coat of just enough epoxy to fill the grain and required minimal sanding afterward. Was a glassy smooth finish. There are many water based grain filler that are fine for interior use, but I could find little info on how they would stand up for exterior use. Don’t ever have to worry about that with epoxy. It will last longer than the wood! One question – what is the best filler to use over an exterior oil primer like Zinnser Cover Stain or water based 123 on exterior trim? I’m still refinishing some trim and after priming there’s always a few imperfections I missed before applying primer. I know epoxy paste would work but wondering if there’s something simpler or cheaper that would work well between primer coats. MH Ready Patch? DAP Platinum Patch?

  3. Under “Minwax Wood filler” (second paragraph), I think it’s supposed to include the word “NOT” – so it should read:

    “The fact that it’s not structural just means it should NOT be used for larger applications…”

    Currently it says that it “should be used for larger applications”

  4. Hello, I am repairing/rebuilding an old chair. The back has hundreds of tack holes from previous upholstery. I want to fill those holes so I need something thin enough to enter a nail hole. Any suggestions? (the area will eventually be covered by new fabric which will need to be stapled and tacked in).
    Thanks for advise.

      1. Hum….I see that this question has been asked a few times since 2016 with no responses……Wonder if we’ll get one this time?

        1. Why do you need to fill the holes? If it’s because you want to strengthen the wood I sometimes just brush on some wood glue. If it’s for aesthetic purposes you should probably leave a coat of wood filler then sand it back.

    1. Just so happens I’m also rebuilding a chair. I used toothpicks to fill the holes. Just cut a toothpick with points on both ends in half. Then lightly hammer the pointy end into the tack hole. When the toothpick stops going in, break it off.

  5. I am going to fill in a large area (about the size of large marble) that is at the bottom of our garage trim. What should I use for the filler?

  6. I am going to paint the aluminum columns on my house. They are chipping paint. I am going to grind the paint off with an angle grinder, but it leaves alligator patches and other ugly patches. What would you use to make it look “perfect” when we paint them?

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