The 7 Best Products to Patch Wood

By Scott Sidler April 22, 2013

7 best products to patch woodSometimes 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 this 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.

You can also read the results of my 2-year field testing of most of these wood fillers and epoxies at The Wood Filler & Epoxy Test (Year 2) to see how these products performed in the real world.


1. 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 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 & WoodEpoxAbatron LiquidWood WoodEpox

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. The two parts work together to stabilize “punky” wood and fill in the missing areas.

The repairs can be sanded, drilled, planed, essentially you are left with a piece 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 putties.

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 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 outside. 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. Almost as good as epoxy at a fraction of the cost.


4. KwikWood

For strong repairs in a hurry, this product is the best. 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’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 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!


5. 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.


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.

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 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.


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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303 thoughts on “The 7 Best Products to Patch Wood”

  1. Hello Scott
    We have hardwood flooring and there was a small knot hole that our dog decided to gnaw on its about the size of a dime now how can we fill and stain this so it won’t be so noticeable? The floors are oak

    Thanks Chris

  2. Hi Scott, I’m painting the exterior of a 1922 Craftsman in the Pacific Northwest. The old paint is alligatored, checked, cratered, pocked, etc., but also extremely well adhered to the siding and rock-hard. I’m having trouble finding much info about the use of products like ReadyPatch and CrackShot as a filler for this purpose. The few bits of info I’ve found mostly just say you should NEVER use exterior spackle for this purpose – but specific products aren’t mentioned, and maybe some newer products are okay? The professional paint stores (and box stores) have all told me that there’s no product that will fill those imperfections and hold up for more than a year or two, and even the product info for ReadyPatch, CrackShot, and DryDex state that they shouldn’t be used for exterior skim-coating.
    Above, you write: “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 would be elated to find out that I can use a spackling compound rather than having to go through complete removal! Am I mistakenly calling the process of filling these imperfections with a thin, knifed-on layer of compound “skim-coating?” What I’m trying to figure out is: can I use ReadyPatch (or ANY product) to fill in alligatoring, checking, pocks, etc., on my exterior siding? Thanks!

  3. Hi Scott,
    I am going to paint my facia and soffits and don’t know what’s best to use as a filler. I mainly need it to fill the mitered corners of the trim, something to blend the soffitt boards together and fill to old nail holes. What do you recommend? Is it better to wash then repair or repair and then wash? Is there an exterior primer you recommend and should I primer all the trim or just repaired areas? Thank you as this is my first exterior painting adventure.

  4. Hi Scott,
    I am going to paint my facia and soffits and don’t know what’s best to use as a filler. I mainly need it to fill the mitered corners of the trim, something to blend the soffitt boards together and fill to old nail holes. What do you recommend? Is it better to wash then repair or repair and then wash? Is there an exterior primer you recommend and should I primer all the trim or juat repaired areas? Thank you as this is my first exterior painting adventure.

  5. Auto body filler works for many things. Cures with a hardener in minutes, can be sanded and is waterproof. Two part spot putty is less porous and easier to use but pricey…

  6. Hello Scott,
    I just finished the interior of our 3 season lake cabin in NH with kiln dried ship lap. I nailed it with 8 penny nails that are sunk in pretty good (1/8 in to 3/16). The cabin has a wood stove and the temps will swing from 15 to 90 F.

    My plan is to treat the knots with Zinser. Then fill in holes with an elmers type interior / exterior wood putty. Finally, I was going to apply water based stain and top coats of white latex. I am looking to minimize work (lots of holes) and am hoping to get away with a single application of filler.
    Am I on the right track? Many thanks!!

  7. Hi Scott – we are replacing a wrought iron interior railing and in two areas the pickets will not match up – so we will have to fill the holes. We had one recommendation to use dowels. What method/product would you recommend? We recently had the stairs refinished so we have leftover polyurethane stain that matches the floor. Thanks!

  8. Our front door frame has been severely scratched by a dog with separation anxiety. What could I use to fill in the scratches and paint over?

    1. You could use”wall putty” mixed in paint (the color you intend to use for repainting). Let it dry for few hours. Sand it. Refill any left over gaps. Now it is ready for painting. Simpler, effective and low on cost.

  9. Hi ,
    I am from India, My home is very traditional with full of wood work and old building, so I don’t want to demolish it and done some repair in 1st floor; Now the wood pillar is getting small crack and its growing; And pillar is has balancing reasonable weight; In this case, wood filler could be suggest able or should I replace it. I am confusing, Please advise me.

  10. Have a phone box outside my 200 yr. old house, they have about 1 1/2″ hole that was drilled behind it that needs to be filled, I had to put a new phone wire through and I suspect the vinyl siding is shedding the water down into the hole, as my insulation is damp in that area. (I have pulled it out) what should I use to make it watertight?

  11. Hi Scott!
    Excellent blog. Your answers and applications are great. Much appreciated . So.. to the point . I’ve got to patch the outside corner of detailed MDF baseboard. Yep, my dog chewed it. Your guidance is again , very much appreciated.


  12. I had carpenters add trim to my kitchen cabinets to add some dimension. They primed and painted but when they delivered them I noticed that every nail hole is visible due to the filler shrinking. Is there a filler that will stick in the shallow hole that is remaining? Do I need to sand a bit first and repaint that area or what would you suggest? Thanks

  13. The MH Ready Patch shows that it’s for metal, and makes no mention of wood in the product description. Did you link to the correct product? I’m wondering if it’s more similar to bondo in that it doesn’t flex enough to work with wood’s shrinking and expanding (I’m particularly thinking of exterior purposes).

  14. Scott – love your website. I have two issues I’d like some help with.
    1. I have stair posts that are Douglas Fir that have been used as scratching posts by a cat. Fortunately they are straight vertical with no carving. In reading this blog I am really not sure what I should use. In terms of blending I can faux finish them with artist oil paints. Could you suggest the best thing to use. Would I need to cover them with shellac or lacquer before I faux paint them.
    2. I have an old chair that has had so many upholstery nails that the wood needs to be filled and smoothed before re-upholstery. Could you recommend what I should use for this that would accept being nailed again? Also there are some splits in the wood I’d like to fill as well. The chair is actually painted black with Japan black paint which is oil based and gold detailing. I will be re-painting it with Japan Black so I need something that will accept paint.
    Thanks for your help.

  15. Hi,

    Great blog. I have log cabin and interlocking sections in corners in the outside let water in. Not server just damp I’m a couple of corners. It seems the cuts on logs are not great or they moved slightly showing gap around 1mm to 2mm.

    What’s best to fill these gaps and then stain over filler?


    1. Use a product called Permachink, it is made for logcabins. // They have a 800 number and are very helpful. I used their products for my log cabin.They have other products so they might recommend one of them.

    2. Check out permachink, they have alllll kinds of products and advice for you about log cabins. They give free samples of their products too, might be enough to get the job done

  16. I have a storm door that was caught by a wind gust causing the closer bracket to come ripping out of the wooden door jam. I need to patch the wood where it was and re-drill holes to set the closer bracket. Which of these products, or others, would you recommend?

    1. Hi Scott,

      If the jam is repaired the best prev nation for this happening in the future is to get rid of the tiny screws that are sent with the dampener and replace them with 3″ pan head screws into the framing. You can place these screws through the existing holes and there will be no patching required and you end up with a stronger bracket.

      1. John, I have the same issue with a storm door; however I already have 3″ inch screws in the part into the wood trim. I bought a new storm door with a different type of closer and need to screw it back into the door frame, but need to repair the holes with some type of hardener that will make it like original wood.
        Than kyou.

  17. Hi l, so happy to have found this post/site! I’m currently painting the stained woodwork in my den and need a product to fill nail and tiny screw holes in my French doors. Which product would be best for this? I’ll be priming with oil based Kilz and painting with an Alkyd semi-gloss. Thanks for any advice you can give 🙂

      1. Hi Scott, thanks for your response!! Hate to disappoint, but I did, in fact, paint over the stained woodwork in my den. :/ In my defense, the house is a 2-story colonial built in the 80’s (as in 1980’s!!) Nothing that special about the woodwork, but it sure looks fresh with white paint 🙂

  18. We are painting our interior stairs. When removing the carpet, we discovered the two landings (our staircase turns 180 degrees) are chipboard. We painted all of the hardwood treads, and installed retrorisers and are struggling to find a solution for the landing (one has a bullnose edge, the other doesn’t). I would love to paint this chipboard, but obviously this isn’t a smooth surface. Is there a product you suggest that could smooth out the chip board, be durable to walk on and hold paint? There will be a runner over 90% of the landing, so that will protect it from most foot traffic.

  19. Currently repairing deck. Mostly finished but not yet stained/painted. Noticed that after a recent rain, wood putty applied over finishing nails has swollen above the surface. I then realized that I accidentally used interior grade wood putty. I also used the putty to fill some large voids in a couple of posts. I am not so concerned with asthetics, just longevity. Can I just remove the surface of the wood putty and cover with a wood epoxy ? Thx.

  20. I used your advice awhile back and am using ready patch to repair loose/chipped paint spots on my 1950 wood siding home with lead paint(which is why I don’t want to sand it)

    On my porch, I have wood planks under the tiles vs plywood or osb. I know I can fill the cracks(for looks before painting) with ready patch, but is their some other product you would recommend? Caulk would be too expensive but something I could “skim on”…I guess i was wondering.

  21. new to the blog but this article and the followup 2 years is great!

    I have knots in PT deck floor I want to patch. Not all the way thru but halfway. AND a concern is I want to try to have the patch at least absorb some stain. The deck is stained SemiTrans Olympic latex MAX, in custom color Desert Sand. Bit darker brown than the original deck board color.

    Which product is best and either HAS such color when dry OR will really take stain (not paint)???

    Thanks in advance.

      1. OK, thanks!
        I too was surprised and impressed with performance 2nd year of the Minwax filler, and a long time paint associate in our Lowes said the minwax does take a bit of stain, more so than epoxy. And he thought with SemiT stain in Desert Sand (light brown) the minwax might match well.

        Not sure what your 3 year test revealed but it is that a good alternative? The JB Weld sticks I’ve had issue with getting the right knead mix. And some failure with their Water Weld.

        Appreciate your insights, look forward to hearing this year’s results.

      2. Have you ever recommended copper borate or GenBor as a preservative to stop decay prior to fillers and epoxy repairs? This would be an important step in long term durability.


  22. After reading all these posts, I’m still unsure whether WoodEpox is what I should use. I have an old raised house (on piers) with large wooden pine floor beams. After some repair work, I need to replace the lap siding that installed over the beams. However, one beam, though structurally solid, is twisted, making it difficult to install the siding without a big “wave.” The wood is old and very hard. Sanding would be very tough duty, and there would still be a big depression. I can fix it by troweling in about 1/2″ of some kind of filler, over a distance of about 1.5′.

    Is this a good application for WoodEpox? Would LiquidWood be part of the solution? How?


  23. Hi Scott,
    I have a cedar chest I got from my mom. I want to strip it down and finish it with the natural color. But upon inspection….I noticed a few places of some chips missing…you can’t tell unless you get up close because its been stained. My question is…what kind of wood filler can I use, and will it stand out with the natural finish when I done? Or should I just leave as is and see how it looks?


  24. I am finishing a new construction home with board and batten construction. The board is 4X8 sheets and the battens are 4″ cedar. All wood has been primed with an oil based primer, all sides and edges. There are lots of cracks and small gaps to fill and I am asking for advice on the best material to fill all these fine cracks and gaps. I get various opinions including elastomeric caulk, latex caulk, exterior patching compound, etc. I am looking for a product I can work in with my finger which seems to rule out the elastomeric caulk as it does not like to be finger finished and will be a bit messy to apply given the small gaps involved. I will be painting over the filler so that would rule out silicone products.

    Any suggestions? Thanks

    1. Since it is new construction and settlement will take place, you need to use material that has some flexibility. Elastomeric is most flexible. A high quality, no shrinking latex caulk would be my second suggestion.

  25. I’m repairing the body of my guitar where my bridge sits. The bridge split across the place where the strings sit in the holes that the push pins go in. I want a bond that will fill in the spaces left between the holes that split apart and also where some of the wood is missing to reinforce the area underneath and fill that. What would be the strongest filler that would solve this problem. I have reassembled the broken bridge with Tite Bond wood glue and tend on securing that to a piece of veneering on the wood side with the veneering face down and screwing in ti the body of my guitar. Thinking that the veneering itself will keep the bridge from splitting again. I’d appreciate your opinion on what I should use. Thank you for your time and cooperation.

  26. Hi, I have a question. The siding of my house seems to be rotting in places, and I have a few holes that are starting to develop. Would the abatron wood epox be my best option? I’m just worried because the surrounding wood seems to be textured, so I don’t know if using this repair method would be too obvious

  27. I have an unusual problem. We have plywood walls that were put up by a carpenter who was going to do custom paneling in our bedroom. Long story short, he got arrested and now we are stuck with plywood walls. We had a guy come and tape and spackle the seams so we could pain, but it cracked and we had a line running around the whole room. Then we brought in a pro wallpaper guy and he spackled and hung the wallpaper, but now there’s a bulge under the wallpaper that runs around the whole room. He has offered to come back and redo the wallpaper and try again,at his own expense, but I’m afraid of wasting his time and money if the same problem happens again, which, to my thinking, it most definitely would. What product could we use to ensure no more problems with the seams so we can wallpaper again? Needless to say, wallpaper is not cheap. Thanks.

    1. No amount of patching or wall papering will give you a smooth finish that will accept paint with the existing condition you’be described.
      If you want smooth walls that will accept paint, either remove the plywood and replace with drywall or place the drywall over the plywood.

  28. My kitchen cabinets have a knob in the middle of the door. I want to fill the hole left by the knob, prime and paint them. What product would you recommend? I don’t want the patch (screw hole size) to show or come out later on. Being in a kitchen, there would be various heat and humidity issues.
    Thank you!

  29. Hi Scott,

    Great article! Thanks. I need to repair a small, rotted hole about the size of a dime and about 3/8″ deep at the end of a varnished butcher block kitchen counter top. It is flush with the edge of the kitchen sink so it will be exposed to a lot of water. I would prefer to filling this in with something rather than cutting it out and putting in a wood latch and was wondering what product you would suggest for this project. Thanks so much!


  30. I have a crib that used to have a changing table attached. Without the changing table there are holes that I want to fill in. What would you suggest? Some holes are open on both ends, if that makes sense.

  31. Scott

    Woodpeckers have created a large mess in one of my outside beams, what would be the best thing to fill it with. Our weather varies from 10 to 95 degrees, so it needs to move with the wood.

    Thanks for the help

  32. I painted the inside of a house where i removed cover strips over Masonite used flexible filler and cracks keep coming back some joins are tight and some are up to a 5 millimeters apart i do not know what to use please advise.

  33. I removed an old mortise lock from a solid wood front door on a 100 year old home. I want to patch that whole area and install a standard deadbolt set. Do you think I should do a Dutchman rather than try to fill the existing holes? If so, what adhesive would provide the best hold?

  34. Hi Scott,
    Need your expertise, please. My dog chewed a corner off an expensive cabinet & also some of the trim. What should I use that can be stained & moldable to recreate a corner & fill in the gnawed trim? Husband’s livid.
    Many thanks,

      1. HI. Just noticed your question while looking for my own info. Found this product a couple years ago that you can make into any shape you’ll need and then it’s permanent. My daughter loves to see what she can do with it. It’s called Sugru. I know they have a FB page and I’m sure Pinterest too.
        Just yesterday I saw some other new product on a home show. I believe it was called Foam Cards. These sheets the size of a credit card are activated by getting wet then stretching and bending into whatever you need. It stays in place until or unless it gets wet, then you can use it again.

  35. We removed the carpeting from our stairs with the intention of sanding and staining the treads and painting the risers white. Unfortunately after we did this we saw that one of the stair treads has a rather large knot hole where the actual knot has fallen through. It is about the size of a lime. Would the Abatron product work in this case to fill the knot hole strong enough for daily walking? Will it hold stain well or will it be very obvious that there is a patch in the tread?

  36. Hi, Very helpful article! Thank you. I want to make sure I use what’s right… My husband was experimenting and trying to make two shelves longer to fit our wall. One was two short and two were too long. So he cut them in half and joined them. Problem is the cut wasn’t perfect and now there is a 1/4in gap between the selves which is very obvious. We are going to paint them but what can we use to join the shelves and fill that gap? Wood Kwik wood work? Thanks for yorur help! 🙂

  37. Scott, my paint store recommended SYSTEM THREE Wood Restoration EndRot Kit, for severe rot I have on a window sill. Are you familiar with the product and if so, do you have an opinion on it? I reached for the Old Durhams and they stopped me.

  38. Hi Scott. I’m a DIY building a pergola using some fairly large timber (6x8s, 4x10s). Some of the lumber has a lot of checking, and i’d prefer to fill the checks before I stain. What can you recommend for filling 1/32 to 1/8 surface and end checks that will stay put while expanding and contracting with the wood? Thank you.

  39. Hello,
    I need to fill in some missing veneer on a cedar chest before painting it. It’s a pretty large area all along one side. It goes in and out from barely any to 5 inches for the hole 49 inches of the side. Hopefully this description makes sense. Everywhere I looked for missing veneer everyone seems to use auto body bondo. I’m just trying to make sure what I do stays put for many years to come and that it’s something that can do that with just such an extremely thin layer.
    Thank you in advance!

    1. Oops. For the *whole 49 inches of the side. Also this is right at the edge.

      Thanks again!


      1. Thank you for that!!! I’m assuming you mean the Abatron product? I forgot to mention that I don’t do this regularly and this is my first time, so I was looking to spend the least amount of money possible and get the least amount of product possible since I’m basically going to waste 90% of it. What do you think about using all purpose bondo? Or I could get minwax high performance wood filler since I can get both in a pretty small can. I was reading that they seem to yield the same results, so most people go with the cheaper option, bondo. I’m sorry I should have explained myself better. Thank you so much for helping!!!

        1. Abatron has a pint size available for the WoodEpox so you won’t have to waste quite as much. I’d stay away from Bondo but the HP Minwax might work well. It’s just harder to apply as easily and can cure pretty quickly if you’re not careful. Abatron is a little more foolproof.

          1. I see. Thank you for all the amazing help!!! It’s so confusing seeing how many people recommend bondo. Of course I trust your opinion and will do as you said. I’m just wondering what to of issues you have with bondo? (I know it’s definitely not recommended for outside) I’m just trying to learn. Thanks again!!

          2. No problem! Bondo cures very hard and is messier to work with. It also has a tendency to pull away from the wood in larger patches as well. That’s why I’m not a fan.

  40. Scott,
    I have some new siding that has been oil primed with bm fresh start. Then, Filled nail hoes w ready patch. Will finish with 2 coats bm regal select. Is it mandatory to prime those hundreds of filled nail holes before finish coats? I was planning to just sand and apply finish.

  41. I am refinishing my cabinets which have demountable hinges with 3/8 inset. I thought I found rplacements, and got rid of my old hinges. When I went to install the new hinges, I discovered they were double and my cabinets need single. All of the refinishing is done. Can I fill the router holes in the doors with something and just get regular 3/8 inset hinges? What can I use.

  42. Hi all I purchased a home that was built in 1942 that was to last two years for the miners here in Henderson NV the homes were delivered in by train on box cars. Its made of redwood and the previous owners had 6-7 layers of roofing foam material etc. The roof got so heavy they put in a vertical beam under the beam to help support all the weight on the roof. We took the vertical beam out after repairing the roof. The beam was attached to the overhead beam but just set on the redwood floor. The floor a little damaged about 12 inches by 12 inches about an 1/4 inch or so deep wondering if I could use one of these products that is going to be clear to fill the damaged spot any ideas.

  43. Hi. We have a small (half inch deep by 2 inch long) hole in our hard wood flooring. What can we use to fill and paint or stain to match our floor. Thank you.. Tom.

  44. My husband is no carpenter. When he sanded our kitchen cupboards he went to deep in some spots leaving gouges. How can we repair them?

  45. I have what I will call a ‘floating soffit’ that was installed in a remodel of our kitchen. It is decorative. They used 1/4″ plywood on the bottom side, with several pieces butt spliced in order to cover the long span. At the seam a wood putty was used and painted over but keeps cracking open. I need to use something flexible but not sure what would be best for a horizontal overhead surface. Maybe RestorIt flexible epoxy? Thanks for any suggestions you may have.

  46. Please help! I have kitchen cupboards that have 1 cm wooden plugs in the corners. I would like to remove and fill holes. What is the best product to use? I am hoping to match the oak stain and also do not want to remove doors.

  47. Thanks for the informative article. I am trying to smooth out the scraped paint on my siding before painting. Sanding to feather seemed to make the problem worse. I used Elmer’s wood filler under the porch before I realized that it was Interior. Should I sand it all off and start over with another product or do you think it would be ok since it is under a covered porch and going to be painted?

    1. If you’re skim coating with wood filler it won’t last long. Unfortunately, the best options is sanding smooth or using a high build primer to try to cover the unevenness.

  48. I’m trying to repair a pocket door. Whoever cut out the wood to allow for the hardware took out too much, so there’s really nothing for the screws to go into. After reading your post, I think I could build this cut out out a bit, enough to be able to screw the hardware into it. But which product? It’s kind of a jagged cut in the door now. Thanks for your help.

  49. Scott, great site and thanks for all the helpful information. I’ll certainly order whatever products you suggest directly from your site if you can give me some advice.
    I live in SW Colorado with extreme temp changes from 80 degrees in summer to below freezing in winter. My home was built in 2003 and I have problems with my exterior wood trim (1X4’s)and fascia boards (2X10’s). The contractor used brass or copper nails on the trim and galvanized nails on the fascia boards and while some are flush, most are recessed/countersunk 1/8-1/4 inch and I’m now getting black teardrops/weeping from those that are recessed. Thought I could just go to Home Depot and get some wood putty to fill in on top of the nails but saw so many different products that I decided to do a little research online and thankfully found your site. What would you suggest – wood filler? wood putty? a dab of stainable caulking or something else? I plan to sand and re stain after filling the recessed nails but don’t want to end up with a bunch of unsightly dots that don’t match the stain color. Would be very grateful for any suggestions.

    1. Michael, good news and bad news. Depending on what kind of wood your trim is made of you may be stuck with those black teardrops. If it’s cedar and he used galvanized nails you’re in for trouble. Cedar has tannins in it that will eat through and rust out any fasteners that aren’t stainless steel.
      If it’s pine or another wood then filling with and interior exterior stainable wood filler like Elmer’s or Minwax should work great in this case.

      1. Scott, thanks so much for your advice. I’ll give it a try with stainable wood filler in an inconspicuous spot and let you know how it comes out.

  50. Hey Scott, I’m refinishing the original stairs and banisters in my 1880’s home. The spindles are no longer square as the home has settled so has everything else. I want to right them.

    The top of the spindle is cylindrical and inserts into a hole in the bottom of the railing, while the square base is inserted and secured with a big old square nail into a notch in the stair.

    I need to move drill new holes in the underside of the railing to right the spindles, but the new holes will overlap the old ones in most cases. As such, I need a filler that is strong enough to be drilled through once cured, and will take stain well (as the underside of the railing is visible).

    Any thoughts? Thanks, Jonathan

  51. I have a bureau that was damages by an unattended candle. The char is deep. I have removed all of the Burt wood and now have a significant patch to do. I’m thinking wood epoxy would be best but does it take stain well?

  52. I have hardwood floors and noticed a small piece missing from one of the planks on the floor. Which one of these products is best to use or is there something else I can use to repair? Thank you.

    1. Nicole, if it’s a larger piece you may be better off with a Real wood patch, but for areas smaller than a half dollar I’d use the WoodEpox. But for very small repairs the Kwikwood would be my choice.

  53. Hiya. I’m trying to reap holster a 150 year old chair. After removing 100 tiny tacks the frame is pretty damaged. Wood is pretty soft. I don’t have the skill to remove it and make a new one. What would you recommend to repair so it can be stronger and take staples? Thanks a bunch

  54. Hi Scott, I have used this post many times over with good results thanks to this article. It’s been awhile since I have read all the questions so I hope I am not asking a repeat. Anyway, we have installed beadboard ceilings and walls in a new addition and have primed and are ready to paint. There are some knots and holes that will need to be addressed before we can proceed. I’m pretty sure the wood is not pine. I have several products at hand to use including painters putty, Kwikwood, MH ready patch, Durhams water putty, and WoodEpox. I’m not sure which one would be the best choice in this case and would love to get your advice on it! Thanks so much your all the great info!

    1. It depends on the size of the knots. For the larger knot holes I’d recommend Water Putty if it’s not exterior. If it is exterior go with WoodEpox. If there are just small slivers around the knot holes then MH Ready patch will be a good fit too.

  55. I have a chair that I’m reupholstering and it has a lot of staple/decorative nail holes in the frame. What can I use to fill the holes and help add strength back into the frame? Something that I’d be able to staple into again.

  56. Hi!
    I build custom wood tables out of pine & cedar (depending on the style top). We use the less expensive wood to offer a beautiful table but to extend the savings to the customer. We are noticing that the Minwax wood filler (even tried a wood filler made for high traffic wood floors) is cracking. We assume the wood is expanding & contracting & causing the filler to crack but do you have any recommendations? Maybe something stronger or more flexible that we can use & still stain? Is there any product that can dry damp wood or encase it from moving?
    Thanks for the guidance.

  57. Hi Scott, I have an old cedar chest where the hinge screws on the lid have fallen out. Which of your fillers do you recommend to fill the holes so I can re-drill the screws back in? I don’t intend to do any painting on it. Thanks. Karen

      1. Thanks for that info. Now the cedar chest lid broke apart inbetween pieces of wood where the lid arm goes. So, what is the best repair product for holding 2 pieces of cedar together. I’m not concerned about the look as much as the smell. Thanks.

  58. I had to cut up the whole subfloor in a room. I used a circular saw and jig saw to do this and my cut is close to being straight but I did hit a couple nails that caused the saw to deflect and I might have a few spots that the cut is not even (maybe a 1/2 nick). When I lay the new subfloor and if there is a gap/imperfections, I was wondering if there is a filler I could use to fill the voids or what do you suggest to use? Thank you in advance!

  59. I am pretty new to woodworking and finishing and I recently completed a trim project and used Minwax sanded wood filler to fill in my nail holes and hammer marks (oops). BIG MISTAKE! It looks awful, even after staining. What do you suggest? I hate to dig it out and possibly cause more damage but I am not happy how it turned out and do not want to start over with 4 new pieces of trim. What would you suggest??

    1. Theresa, if you’re not happy with the appearance then digging it out and refilling is really the best option. No filler completely blends in, so if the holes are big it will always stand out. I’m sorry if I led you wrong with my mention of the filler.

  60. Hi Scott,
    I just had an sauna/steam room built for me out of T&G Cypress. It looks great but I was disappointed when the builder let his helper nail the T&G boards improperly leaving hundreds of small nail holes. My options are to just leave it alone and enjoy or to find a way to patch the small nail holes. The Cypress will not be stained inside( Paraffin oil is recommended for the wood) and the interior will be damp with heat and steam. I noticed your recommendation of sawdust and superglue for small nail holes for unfinished wood but fear the sheer number of nail holes with fast drying superglue would make this difficult. What suggestions do you have for this?

    1. Jon, that’s a tough one. I don’t really know what the best solution for filling in a situation like that. Extreme heat, humidity, and no finish to cover it. Maybe tinted epoxy like KwikWood to match the wood color?

  61. Thanks for this list and information. Sound like good products, and of course everything has an upside and a downside.
    But…….For small holes or cracks or gaps, I use Allback organic linseed putty, available from the Eco Living Room at 12 Cataraqui Street, Kingston, Ontario. It is purified organic raw linseed oil based, and it truly breathable, so no moisture can be trapped behind it. That’s what I love about it. It’s also 100% compatible with Allback organic purified linseed oil based paint, which never peels, cracks, buckles, blisters, or traps moisture causing the wood to rot. This type of putty can be painted with this type of paint immediately after it is in place. If you don’t have an eco living room in your area, you can order these products at // This site also has all the different products and information about them.
    I often use Abatron to repair rot damage, but in some cases you’ll be able to use Allback organic raw linseed oil, then a slurry of raw linseed oil and linseed putty, then the straight linseed putty, depending on the particular situation.
    Another thing worth checking out is wood wizzards for rot repair, // With this you can proceed with the repair even while the wood is still damp, which is very handy. Unlike Abatron, where you have to get the wood dry before proceeding with the repair. With wood wizzards, if you start with dry looking wood, and the temperature is 70F, you can apply the liquid resin (a primer and wood petrifier) 20 min after treating with bio cleaner (to clean) and timbor solution (timbor powder dissolved in water to kill off any fungi), even though the wood would still have some wetness or dampness in it from the treatment. Wood Wizzards seems to be able to allow moisture to evaporate out of the wood.

  62. A couple of years ago, I used Durham’s Water Putty on cedar clapboards and window trim. I then primed with my oil primer and then top coated with two coats of latex. I painted in the autumn and by the next summer/fall in many locations where there was water putty I had failing paint. The locations where I used an exterior wood filler have held up just fine. I won’t use it again on the exterior.

    1. Stuart, thanks for the update! I have lately been shying away from water putty for some of the same reasons. I prefer the Abatron to almost anything now because it has such a tenacious grip on the wood if applied correctly.

  63. Hi Scott,
    The JB Weld epoxy product KwikWood looks like a great fit for a project we are getting ready to take on (woodpeckers ruined a fascia board on one dormer). Do you have any experience on JB Weld 2-part epoxy WoodWeld? We want the most durable product because I never want to have to climb up there again!
    Thank you,

    1. Carol, I haven’t used the 2-part wood weld but have used the steel version of the same. I found it messy and tough to work with, but effective once it was applied correctly. I think Kwikwood is the easier route to take.

  64. Hi Scott,
    I have a couple of nice, old, solid wood doors from the 30s & while the paint is quite sound, there’s an unintended crackle effect. Someone recommended skimming over the small cracks with joint compound, or spackle, but I’m hesitant. Is there another product you might recommend? I prefer something without a strong smell & I find the M&H’s smell unpleasant.


      1. Thanks, Scott. Sanding that deep, with lead paint wasn’t an option for me and I wasn’t up for stripping, so I sanded and then used ZAR wood filler to fill in the cracks & then sanded again. I primed with BIN and then painted with latex and it looks pretty good. I’m hoping it will hold. That was a year and a half ago & it’s still holding up.
        Fingers are crossed.

        By the way, I love that ZAR and also use it to fill in small gouges after scraping old paint of.

  65. We have interior logs in a bedroom we are remodeling. The previous owner notched out the logs to place 2×4’s to install paneling. We would like to keep logs exposed but need to fill in these notches, which are quite large. Do you know what we could use to fill these in and would be able to sand and stain,

  66. Hi Scott,

    We had a pergola built in our backyard, finished, primed and painted white. the issue is that within the first year the wood has cracked in some areas. I suspect the hot cold cycle, and the continued drying out of the wood is the cause. I don’t think I have any rot yet, but I will if I don’t get it sealed back up, primed and painted. What would you recommend to fill? I’ll need waterproof obviously, but also something that has some flex as the wood continues to shrink/expand.

    1. I have a fairly new arbor and two of the cedar post nearest to our home have cracks. The wood has a dark brown stain after being dipped prior to erecting. The largest crack is about 4 to 5′ long and at the widest point maybe 1/4″ wide. What can I use to fill in with and either mix stain with filler prior to use or porous enough to stain after being filled?

  67. Scott, Thanks for all the great information!
    To update my 1990’s honey oak kitchen cabinets, I’m going to paint them and replace hardware/hinges. I’d like to switch to concealed hinges, however, current hinges are double demountable hinges with a good size “T” cut deep into the face frame and the side of the doors. Can these holes be filled? and then screwed into for new hinge?
    Also, is there way to replicate the oak grain so the filled area isn’t obvious (scratch grain pattern into fill?) or better yet, is there a grain filler you recommend (to use over existing finish) for cabinet doors/boxes so grain isn’t obvious anywhere? (I’m going to paint with General Finishes water based milk paint)
    Your thoughts much appreciated!

  68. Scott, Thank you so much for this informative article. I’m looking to fill gaps between the cutout of a wood floor and radiator pipes. Do you have any recommendation as to which filler reacts well to heat? Thanks!

  69. Hi Scott,
    I am refinishing my deck and need to fill cracks in the deck boards and in the gaps in the butt joins to stop moisture getting into the ends of the boards that causes the solid color deck stain to lift. Whatever I use needs to be flexible yet durable when it’s dry to facilitate expansion and contraction of the boards. I have tried the best quality calking compound I could find as well as Elmer’s premixed wood filler. Neither have stood up or provided the water seal I am looking for. Can you recommend a wood filler for this application?

  70. Hi,

    We just bought a house built in 1900. We have a screen door with glass in the top as well as a screen that opens up to allow air in. The door was accidentally left open and the wind caught it causing it to get ripped out of both door hinges. It fell vertically and slid down our concrete steps. We love the door, however it will need some patching as it is missing some 1-2 inch chunks from the fall. Thankfully the glass stayed in tack and did not break. What type of patch would work best to fill the holes with and then repainted to match the rest?

  71. Have antique dresser that has pieces of broken and missing veneer. Want to fill the missing spaces in and paint over it. What would you recommend? Thank you so much for your time and advice!

  72. I need to fill some divots and small areas of water damage on the osb substrate on my rv roof. My first thought was Durhams but am concerned about movement and walking traffic on it. it will be primerd and then covered with a solvent based adhesive and then epdm rubber roofing. Any thoughts?

  73. Scott,

    I have a Victorian building. An over enthusiastic plumber pulled out a bolt and ripped a dime size hole to the exterior. Unfortunately it butts up against the building next door (with a 2″ gap). Any suggestions as to how to seal it from the inside (one suggestion was a cocktail umbrella coated with Sikaflex!).

      1. It’s old redwood siding. We have great access from the interior as it is stripped to the studs. Looks like someone stuck a layer of drywall directly to exterior siding. (it is an old mudroom that probably got built out around 1920)

  74. I am about to paint an exterior of a very large house with lots of rough sawn wood trim, 50 gallons of paint worth. The previous contractor patched some troubled areas with bondo The patchwork does not look good, goes smooth to rough. Other than removing and replacing the wood I was wondering if there is a patching and graining(texturing) technique that you are aware of that I could do to give a rough sawn effect.

  75. Hi Scott. I have a hollow wooden closet door in which there is a hole in one side approximately 1″x2″. The door is painted. I would rather patch this hole than to replace the whole door. Any recommendations please?

  76. Scott…We have removed the fabric from the legs of our dining room chairs to stain the wood. We need to fill all the little staple holes with a filler that will take the stain to the same degree as the natural wood so we don’t have a bunch of little spots that don’t match.
    What filler should we use?? Thanks.

  77. We have 2 17 year old adirondeck (spelling ?)chairs we have just replaced several of the boards. One of the larger back boards is rotten at the end and we are wondering what type of wood filler we should use to repair it. In previous years we have used Git-Rot on a boat — not even sure it is still available. What is your suggestion? These chairs are outside and covered during the winter months.

  78. hello, can you tell me if the Sawdust & Superglue method is stainable and what is the best glue to use for this method? also where can I buy it?
    thank you.

  79. Got cracks? I found that taking tooth picks, flat or round, your choice, moistening them with alcohol and shaping them to the crack, putting in wood glue and putting in the picks with a screwdriver or pointing tool will work great, dry and sand.

  80. Hello Scott, I wonder if you have a recommendation for a wood filler that could fill gaps in a pre-finished wood floor. I have some gaps throughout the floor between the floor boards and I’m looking for filler that will not shrink, create a durable bond and flowable enough to apply into the gaps (roughly 1/8″). Thanks for your help!
    – Ken

  81. I have a couple nicks in my wood pub table. They are down in to the unstained wood part but less than the size of a pencil eraser. What is the best product to fill them with. I am affraid if I have to sand these two small spots it will be a total refinish process and I don’t want that. TIA

    1. Susan, most fillers will need sanding to blend in perfectly. You may try using a stain pen to hide the nicks rather than filling staining and finishing the small area.

  82. Hello Scott, What filler or caulk would you suggest for the exterior of my house? We helped paint any other house and the area where the filled and caulked was showed a different color from the wood area. We also used a primer and paint. Thank you

  83. Hi. I have an antique spinning wheel that was well used. I plan on using it again, but the treadle where it is joined to the wheel with a rod is almost worn through. There is about 1/8″ of wood left, and it’s about an1/2″ square hole, open on 3 sides. I will need to drilla hole in this patch and it will need to hold up to significant stress. I also did not want to paint it, but keep the original finish. Is an epoxy filler my best bet?

  84. Scott thanks for your great info!

    We have a mahogany deck with some snow/water damage around some screws. Want to repair, fill, and stain. Looks like WoodEpox is your go to? What about MinWax stainable wood filler? Thanks

  85. I am replacing carpet. I needed to chisel out some rotted floorboard. (I reduced the 3/4″ thick floor board to 1/2″ thick place in a small area up against the wall). Now the carpet installer cannot lay the tack strip down because a portion of the floorboard is gone. What would you recommend I use to fill in the flooring? It needs to be strong enough to support the tack strip and the carpet stretching process?

  86. Thanks for answering all of these questions! I have another if you have time.
    I am repainting our colonnade which was unfortunately made with several pieces of rough knotty pine. What should I use to fill in the rough spots around the knots? I have already applied a few coats of clear shellac to the knots- have not primed yet.
    Thanks for any suggestions!

  87. We built a farm house style table but have found the cracks between the boards on the tabletop catch too many crumbs. My idea was to fill it with Elmer’s Wood Filler, sand it, then stain and polyurethane the top again. My only concern is that where we did this same thing on the screw holes in the frame, there are now raised spots, like the filler expanded out. What would be the best method to fill these cracks? Did we do something wrong on the screw holes?

  88. I am making a table out of a circular cut of a tree trunk. In the middle there is a hole about 1″ deep and 2″ wide and I want to fill it with something CLEAR. What would you suggest? Epoxy?

  89. Hi. We bought a long wood table at a flea market made out of barn siding. It had been sanded and refinished. However there is a crack going down one side of the table. It has not reached the other end, but I’m sure it will. It is getting wider as well. What is the best filler to use since the table has already been stained and varnished?
    Thanks for your help.

  90. Scott, this article and posts/discussion are great. We had plywood subfloors (interior) that we painted 10 years ago; they held up great but were recently damaged by a burst frozen pipe. What product would you recommend for filling counter-sunk nail holes & especially seams for our new plywood floors to be painted? We plan to faux finish using latex paint & use Endurovar water-based varnish to seal. Thanks for your help! Kim

  91. Hi – I paint furniture and resell it. I recently got a desk that had several predrilled holes about an inch in from the side space about 3/4″ apart (maybe for a piece of decorative trim that is long gone). I filled the holes with spackle, sanded and painted. You can still see small rises where the spackle was. How can I fix this without sanding off the entire desk top? Thanks

    1. Susan try using an epoxy filler like WoodEpox to fill the holes instead of spackle. Overfill with the epoxy then sand smooth and level and it will last a long long time.

      1. Hi Scott,
        I purchased hardwood yellow pine (butcher block style) random length and widths planking. I was told these planks are used to mfg laminated structural beams. I ripped them down to the same widths and made a floor out of them, looks really old, warm and unique. Now 10 years later I have gaps 1/8 to almost 1/2 inch between some of the boards, summer time they do minimize some. I am not feeling up to ripping the floor up and tightening the gaps. I was looking for a spreadable acrylic glossy type liquid to just pour over the entire floor.. we have some splinters as well.
        What do you think

  92. The epoxy options sound like something to try. I’ve used Durham’s and have been pleased. I’ll have to try a thicker consistency to see if I can mold it like clay. I’ve never been a fan of wood filler though. It doesn’t seem to stick, so when I try to spread it out with a putty knife it just rolls up and falls out. If Elmer’s makes it shouldn’t it have a glue-like consistency?

  93. High end frames have seamless joints –what kind of wood filler do they use? I’m framing a vanity mirror and want to make the joints seamless.

  94. We rewired our 100 yr. old apartment and our painted bsseboards were left with holes where the old outlets were housed. What is the best way to fill these holes? Can we use an epoxy or do we have to use blocks of wood?

  95. I am trying to figure out the best way to get a smooth exterior patio ceiling. Installers put in CDX and what I believe is bondo to fill in the seams. After 2 yrs, the seams along the longer boards are separating. Looks like the bondo has failed. What is the best thing to use in this case? An epoxy wood filler? I want to be able to get as smooth as a finish as possible that will last.

  96. I have an old door and am having difficulty screwing in the deadlatch to the door because of decayed wood.
    Do you have any advice about how to get the screws to stay?

    1. Eric – Depending on the door and state of decay; my goto would be to line the precious holes with a generous helping of glue and then use dowels, cut strips of shims, or even just inch long by 1/4″ scraps/cut-offs, gently tapping them into the holes and leaving it to set before coming back and trimming them off with a chisel before pre-drilling new holes. If the state of decay is fairly bad you may want to remove some of the interior section with a chisel and cut a few new blocks to fit inside the door, paving the way for them with again a generous helping of glue a possibly a couple clamps across the thickness of the door even if the blocks are accurately snug-fit. If the decay is not very bad at all you could always just stick a match stick in the hole (or something similar) and try the screws again, giving the screws something to bite into. Hope this helps. 😉

  97. I’m trying to repair a staircase railing where they used something non-stainable to plug the screw holes. What’s the best way to remedy this? Can I dig out the old and replace with a new, stainable product? If so, would you recommend the MH Ready patch for this, or could I get away with the Elmer’s Wood Filler?

    1. Melissa, you got it. Dig out the old patch and filler with a new stainable wood filler. You may even find a pre-mixed wood filler that matches the color you need. Stay away from MH Ready patch in this case since it isn’t stainable.

  98. Hey,

    So I have a mantelpiece that had a candle go awry and charred a square about 3/4 inches deep and 3X3 inches in a square (if you can visualize that). I have removed most of the charred wood and am wondering what would be the best route to report this, also the most cost effective of course.

  99. Hi! I used the wood filler solution where my dog destroyed our door. However there are some shallows scratches I’d like to fill. The door is painted. Each time I fill them and then sand them they still show up. I’m probably sanding too much but don’t want the patch to be worse than the problem. How to you get the filler to stay in there so when you sand you get it flat and smooth with no scratch marks?
    THANKS FOR ANY ADVICE! Am I just trying to get it too perfect?

    1. You may be trying to attain too much perfection like all of us at times, but wood filler and sparkle tend to shrink as they dry so it may take over filling the area and then sanding it smooth. Always fill it a bit too much and sand off what you don’t need.

  100. Hi Scott!
    We have a puppy who has decided her favorite thing to chew is the corners of the cabinets. Since she is my dog, my husband has assigned me the task of fixing it. I am terrified of trying something and making it worse. Can you please give me some pointers on what sort of products to use and the procedure? My husband just told me to get some wood patch and seal.
    Thanks so much!

  101. Dear Scott,
    Thanks for your execellent article.I had two querries.I bought a second hand sheesham wood table which has a slight but long gap between the planks.What filler can I use.
    The querry is that I want to oil it, which oil should i use and how should i prepare it before oiling.Just bit worried to whether to use a paint stripper or to sand it.

  102. Hey Scott,

    I have kitchen cabinets that I removed the handles (2 screw holes) from and replaced with knobs (1 screw hole). In essence that left a quarter inch hole in each cabinet door. I read your blog but what is the “best” patch for that since the hole goes through and through. Our plan is to sand, prime and repaint the cabinets a new color. Thanks in advance!

  103. Hi Scott, I’ve noticed some minor yet long cracks on my stairway. My stairway is covered with carpet but is opened below and that is where I have seen the cracks. What product do you recommend. Thank you for your response and your wonderful website.

  104. Scott, I have an antique wood tool chest that was my great grandfather’s. It’s made of oak and pine. It was stained with a very dark color, and I’ve used stain remover and sanding to get it down to the wood as far as I can. I’ve repaired the damage with wood glue and putty. What is the best way to stain it? I want a light stain, but dark enough to blend in the remaining streaks of old dark stain I can’t get to.

    1. Hi there. Sorry, there are just too many comments to look through for my answer, and I thought I would just ask you direct! I am new at staining wood and I am refinishing a coffee table made of pine. Everyone told me I could just use regular filler for the countless cracks, dings, holes etc but I was skeptical. Well, I varnished and it shows through! All that work! I put a 2nd coat on just to see if maybe I keep putting on more coats it will lesson, but it doesn’t seem to work. What should I do and which products do you recommend from above? Million thanks, Rebecca

  105. Scott,
    Just stumbled across your website on a Google search. I am refinishing a WWII Army luggage trunk and do not want to alter the appearance. However, it has lead-based paint, and rather than sand it I would prefer to use a paint stripper. The bottom also has chunks were the salt water took it’s toll on the piece. Can you think of any filler to place between the boards? I am just short of reconstructing a new floor panel to go below the damaged one. Also, do you know of any good paint strippers that will not further damage the antique wood?
    I would appreciate any and all advise. Thank you,

  106. Hi Scott, help….we have made an indoor cedar sliding barn door and have four screw holes that we have to repair & fill. What would you recommend. Please and thank you.

  107. Hi Scott! Our house has all wood trim and doors. My Dad leaned against my daughters closet door while reading to her. The door came off the track, fell and broke a large chunk of wood on the bottom of the door. The chunk is still partially attached. There is also another small piece of wood that completely off on the bottom of the door. Can you please give us suggestions to fix this. Thank you!

  108. Hi and thanks for a great useful post. I have a question I am hoping you can help me with. My husband and I are making a dining room table from reclaimed wood. There are some bigger holes that don’t only go part way into the surface. Some are long and skinny and some are about the size of a quarter. We love the character they add to the table and want them to be visible. However, we are concerned about food etc getting trapped in them. Could we use an epoxy or something to fill the holes so they are a clear fill before we put wipe polyurethane finish on it? We want to keep the general feel and character of the wood as much as possible. Thanks so much!

  109. My dog has chewed into some of our door framing and our window sills. What product would be best used to fill those holes/gashes they’ve left? Previously i tried using putting that is used to fill drywall repairs, but it doesn’t seem to do the trick nicely. What would you recommend?

  110. Hi Scott, our family dog enjoyed chewing and gouging our walnut stained baseboards and trim work. Now it’s time to try and fill in and repair. I tried the 6oz tube of Min-wax stainable wood filler and a can of dark walnut stain. Not happy with the outcome. The filler ended up looking grayish after 2 coats and my previously stained wood got much darker arounded the sanded areas. Kinda stands out like a sore thumb but better than a gouged hole. Any suggestions for my next 20 spots?. Thank you, Jerry

    1. Jerry, there different colored woo fillers that might get you pretty close to the color you need. Also, the finer the sanding grit you use on the wood the less stain it will take so using something like a 220 or higher might keep the surrounding wood from getting too dark. It’s always a bit of an artist’s touch to fill and hide damage in varnished wood.

  111. I need to reattach some legs to a bed. But the holes where the legs screw on are too big because the wood is worn. What is the best fix???? Please help!

  112. Great information, Scott. As a fine-art painter, I build my own picture frames. Unfortunately my carpentry skills don’t match my painting skills and THE MITERED EDGES OF THE FRAME DON’T ALWAYS MATCH UP PERFECTLY, LEAVING A GAP AT THE CORNERS. Wood filler and water putty don’t fill the cracks all that well; they seem to have their own cracking problems and leave a texture that doesn’t match the original wood. Final note: Sometimes I paint the frame but often I leave the wood bare. Thanks for your advice.

  113. I am tranforming a crib into a bench for our anniversary. Once I take the crib apart, I know there will be some screw holes that I won’t want to see in the bench, best way to fix? Also, could you tell me the best way to sand down and weather prof without damaging the railings? They are carved.

  114. Hi Scott,
    It was a great pleasure to go through your site. I had spent the last couple of days trying to figure out the pros and cons to putty and found this the most comprehensive. I am looking for a putty that is quite elastic, and can withstand drastic warm and cold variations. Are epoxy’s better to use than putty fillers? What do you recommend?

  115. I am repairing a plywood deck that originally had a thin epoxy resin deck coating. Some of the plywood is badly damaged, and will be replaced completely. Other areas is structurally sound, but shows small grain gaps. I also have areas where the surface coat had weathered, and shows some fiber mesh tape joints. I’m looking for the proper filler before I go down with a good oil-based paint. I’ve read a lot of horror stories about the thick DeckOver and similar products, so I am leery of using them. I would rather repaint every five years than have to pull up the whole deck surface in two. From the discussions, it looks like Durham’s Wood Putty will be the best solution here – sounds like I can mix thin for the areas that need a leveler, and mix thicker for filling the cracks. Do you think this is the best for my situation? (Great blog, BTW!)

    1. Tom, if you’re talking about an exterior deck then I would use Abatron because of the tough conditions. It can be thinned just like the water putty to whatever consistency you need.

  116. Well, this is timely. I have part of an exterior mahogany sill that is rotted, and will remove it with a router. The rotted part will sit under a piece of trim, and I want to stain the sill with a weather-resistant finish when I’m done. Which filler should I use?

  117. I have found a beautiful solid mahogany bookcase (not an antique) that has drill holes (about 4 total) scattered randomly on each side. I am going to paint it rather than try to refinish it, so am hoping you could suggest which of the products you mention above would be the best to use for this. Thanks so much!

  118. Iam redoing stairs and to of the boards have knot holes that u can see through each hole is a inch wide maybe a inch and 3/8 how would I fix this without replacing the whole stair and I have to paint the stairs

  119. I have an antique heirloom table that an approx 3 inch in diameter by 1/4 inch deep hole got burned into. (long story) What would you suggest be the best way to patch it? I am thinking of using a clear epoxy resin so the wood grain is still visible.

  120. My go to woodfiller is bondo. Quick and relatively easy to use once you you get the hang of mixing the proper ratio. I mainly use bondo by 3M and have used others. Minwax works well and claims to be a stuctual filler. I would recommend going with epoxy fillers myself for anything structural. Best to spend a little more for peace of mind. I’ve used bondo for exterior projects with success. It’s used on auto body repairs so you know it holds up to outside elements. As long as it’s primed and painted with decent products it should last as long as the substrate.

    1. Martin, the problem with Bondo for exterior wood repairs is that the wood expands and contracts with environmental conditions unlike metal or fiberglass. Bondo is not flexible enough and often it ends being pushed out by the wood and causing more damage. Wood epoxy fillers are softer and more flexible and therefore they can move with the wood giving them lasting power.

  121. I have one sofa set made of wood where in some hair line creaks are visible in its handle/and legs. Would you please suggest some of bonding material which can be put in to it which can go inside and fill the area. Also suggest whether I should apply polish after putting the bonding material

  122. What product would you recommend to fill a wood window frame spot about 3″.x 1/2 inch that has softened/rot from moisture. Interior window/single pain south side. (Older home). Then would caulk all around to seal out moisture from sweating & draft.

  123. i have drilled half inch holes in my log house to put cpes epoxy in…what is the best way to fill these holes in….i have probably over 100 holes..i would something that i could put in with a cauking gun….then the top half inch do a glue and sawdust mix to finish off

    1. Frank, I would thin down the epoxy enough that you can put it in a grout bag and just squeeze enough in to fill the holes. WoodEpox can be thinned with LiquidWood or Acetone to whatever consistency you need to get the job done.

  124. Hi Scott,
    Thanks for the excellent article! I’ll use your store and bookmark your site.

    I have finger-jointed exterior cedar siding, 15 yrs old, that has very fine cracking (not joint failure) where exposed to intense sun. This is central NH, and conditions are quite extreme at this site. The cracks are very fine but latex paint does not bridge them. I have finger-forced siliconized caulk into the cracks, but this is slow and the caulk shrinks, leaving the crack still open, although perhaps impermeable.

    What is the best way to go? I’m inclined to try the Durham’s Water Putty, then prime and repaint. I have not found acrylic fillers to last long in the past, even when primed and painted.

    Thanks in advance.

  125. My new dining room table has a decorative square 1/8″ x 1/8″ routed groove 4″ in around the table top. With 4 kids that groove catches a lot of crumbs. What could or should I use to fill in the groove. It is stained or painted black and I would like to paint or stain any filler black.

    1. Getting the filler to go all the way black might be difficult but I would do some tests with filler and stain to see if you can get the color where you want it. If you are going to paint it black then the solution is a bit easier and I would use the LiquidWood and WoodEpox so you get a more resilient finish that bonds well. With such a small area regular wood filler will likely chip out over time.

  126. I need to repair cedar siding on the north side of my house. I removed the wood deck that was attached to the house and it revealed some rotten wood. Some areas are large and up to 1/2″ deep. I plan to paint once it is repaired. I live in Michigan so I need to be concerned about weather fluctuations. Based on your comments I am leaning toward the Abatron Epoxy. Would you agree? Thank you!

  127. I am building a new home. All the walls and ceilings are 1×8 shiplap white fir…23,000lf. We want an old cottage look so we have lots and knots, cracks and etc. We are painting the wood white. We have extensive amounts of knot holes where you can see through. Some are small and some are huge. We need to fill the holes as they look horrible with the white. Like a giant black hole. The symmetrical circles look too perfect. Most holes are 1″ in diameter. Some are monsters at 2″. Assuming you had to patch about 500 of these and there is no backing on the wood…what would you use?

    1. Craig, if there is nothing but a void behind the knot holes I would probably glue some screening behind the hole or push something else back there that can give a backstop to the filler and then I’d use either Durham’s Water Putty or for an even better repair WoodEpox to fill the whole. Sand it smooth and prime and paint.

  128. My husband and I are not overly handy. We need something to fill in small scratches (some have depth) in a hard wood floor. I was thinking about using Elmer’s walnut wood filler. Will this work or do I need to use something different. Do I have to do anything afterward, like a sealant?

    1. Robin, on a floor you will likely need something a bit stronger to stand up to the traffic. Unless the scratches are significant I would probably simply add some stain to the area so the fresh wood blends in and isn’t as apparent. Trying to fill surface scratches often has to be re-done over and over.

  129. I have a chunk of wood 24-20 I am making an end table out of. It has wholes made from ants. A few are 3 inches wide. The piece of wood is 4 inches think. I want the wholes to show so I am looking for something to fill them in that looks like water (clear). What kind of resin or a pony will work for this project?

    1. Wendy, there are plenty of clear epoxies that will work well for this available at most hardware stores. I think the one I’ve used in the past is made by JB Weld and it worked very well.

  130. I am refinishing an old wood desk. I bought new hardware for it but apparently measured the center to center handle distance wrong. The existing holes are 2 7/8″ & the new handles are 3″. What would be the best product to use, since the new holes will be practically right on top of the old ones?

  131. I am making some shelves for our computer room that are up high and I am using the closet, door, and window casings to support in some places, but because we do not want to have shelf brackets taking up pitcher hanging wall space, I routed the underside of the boards to put 8″ “L-brackets” in some spots to support the shelves. I was going to use Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty to fill in around and over the brackets to hide them and then paint the boards white and the brackets the color of the wall where they mount to it above the shelf. Will the water putty adhere to the bracket like it will to the wood or should I use something like the Kwikwood or Bondo. My wife wants to start painting, so I need to complete the shelves soon. Thanks for bailing me out.

  132. Hi Scott,
    I’ve just purchased an oval table with a leaf and I’m wanting to permanently remove the leaf and fill the seam of the table so it is invisible. Any suggestions for what to use that will be durable? I’m turning it into a train table for my daughter.

  133. Hi Scott, I am working on a project that involves repairing some old (20 -25 yrs) pt wood, outside stairs and flower garden, I am replacing some of the really rotten wooden but some only have cracks that are only about 3/8 inch wide. Can I use Woodepox, and where can I get it? in Canada

  134. I have a 4 X4 post that is part of the stair rails that has significant rot near the bottom (pulled two large handfuls out if that gives you the picture, probably half the post is eaten away at that spot). I don’t want to repair the entire post, would the epoxy product be an option. If so, how far can you build up the amount of product before it isn;t feasible anymore. I was thinking about drilling a number of screws into what’s left of the good wood and molding the compound around them so they have something to hold onto. I’d appreciate your thoughts.

    1. Jim, in your situation I would dig out the damaged wood and fill a large portion of what’s missing with a Dutchman patch then fill the remaining smaller gaps with the epoxy. You can fill it all with epoxy, but that can be expensive.

  135. Hi Scott, thanks for your great site and the info on wood repair. I agree with you on the versatility and ease of MH Ready Patch.

    I have not used Durham’s Water Putty, but thanks to your suggestion, I am considering it for a project I am currently working on. The work involves repairing the appearance of four eight foot tall square pillars that support the edge of an overhanging second story above my garage. The 6″x6″ pillars are generally rough, and in places pretty beat up with hammer strikes, saw cuts, knot holes and deep gouges. The largest gouge, for example, is 1.5″ x 5″ and .5 inches deep.
    Amazingly, from 20 feet away, one doesn’t notice the damage much, especially when the white paint is in good repair. However, I am improving the overall look of this area, and the damage is becoming more obvious. It is the ugliest thing that always stands out.
    I am doing a minimal repair to the pillars, filling the worst areas, sanding, priming and painting. The Woodepox appears to be the ideal repair material, but you also give a strong recommendation to the much less expensive Durham’s Water Putty, with the caveat of needing priming and painting. Have I assessed your recommendations correctly? Also, since the pillars are already painted, will the patching materials hold? I did notice recently that one previous patch popped out of an old hammer strike. It seemed as though the patching material couldn’t get a grip on the latex paint. I appreciate you advice and expertise. Thanks, Steve

    1. Steve, WoodEpox is by far my favorite patching material for exterior due to its tenacious hold and ability to withstand the elements. When used in combination with LiquidWood it’s a fantastic product. As for application over paint, for almost all of these products the surface needs to be cleaned down to bare wood before application. The wood also need to be dry. The patch will not last if done on a painted surface.

      1. Hi Scott – I have enjoyed your recommendations and your 1-year test page. I live in British Columbia, Canada and our winter is generally our very rainy season. I have two 6×6 posts that hold up my front porch and discovered rot near the base of the posts last year, where rain splashes back onto them. I cleaned out all the rotted wood, then applied PC-Petrifer, and then used J-B Weld Wood Restore Repair Putty, and finally applied a solid stain. A year later, there’s been no shrinkage and my application appears to be holding up well! Just thought you would like to know about another product besides Abatron. Would appreciate your thoughts if you have used the Wood Restore one before.

  136. Hi Scott, I was wondering what I could use to fill in an outdoor treated wood deck before I sand and paint it….what happened is my dad tried to get the old paint off with a power washer so I could put new paint on and he got a little too close and splintered it and took chunks out! Can you help me out please?

    1. You can fill it but I doubt that on an exposed horizontal surface the patch will last too long. I would probably replace the severely damaged boards with new lumber. Or you can fill with an epoxy like the WoodEpox and make sure you coat the deck with a opaque stain to hide and protect the patches.

  137. Hi Scott!! Thank you for your wonderful suggestions!
    I have to hide the holes from the screws I drilled to hang my plasma TV on the nice woodwork panel (white color) above the fireplace. Very clean holes, about 3mm in diameter, six of them.
    I guess a touch of white paint to finish up after whatever you suggest?

  138. Awesome tips.

    Just wondering what you think is the best way to fill some melamine finished chipboard cupboard screw holes.
    We can’t sand the surface once it’s filled, so is there one of these we can wipe clean?

    1. Sonny, most of these products can be smoothed over before they dry with a rag moistened in whichever solvent is recommended by the manufacturer (often water or acetone depending on the formula). If you plan to install screws again try the KwikWood or Abatron products for good holding strength.

  139. Hi Scott,
    We have old hardwood flooring in our bedrooms that is in fair condition but not good enough condition to “restore” them. I would like to find a product that I can use to fill cracks and splintered areas and make them “last” a little longer until we can afford to lay new flooring over them. I saw a comercial for a new Behr Deckover product for exterior decking and wondered if it can be used indoors for what I am looking to do?

  140. Dear Scott,
    I have just purchased an old butcher’s block. I plan to use it as an island in my kitchen. There are a few areas that had some wood rot. I want to fill it with something that will not need to be painted or stained but can be sanded. Preferably something clear? What would you recommend?

    1. Jessica, for a butcher block you’re better off doing a Dutchman repair than using wood filler or epoxy. Cut a piece of wood that matches the damaged section, then glue it in place an clamp it.

  141. about to refinish approximately 800 square feet of oak flooring. I have seen someone use a thinned out wood putty poured onto the floor and spread with a trowel to fill joints, nail holes etc. Any idea what this product is?
    Thank you very much

    1. Bob, here’s a little trade secret. The national wood flooring association recommends filling joints in wood floors with premixed joint compound that is tinted to the color of the wood. It bonds well, fills great and is easily sanded. Get some tints from you local paint store and mix the colors yourself to come as close as you can to the wood color.

  142. I have wood siding. Where to boards meet the putty they installed is starting to crack. What is the best way to fill this gap. Re-putty or use one of the methods above.

    1. For patching siding I would stick with an epoxy like Kwikwood if it’s a small patch or Abatron WoodEpox for larger repairs. They hold up much better in the extreme conditions that siding is put through all year.

  143. Hi Scott,
    Repair is needed to fill in a 2″-3″ diameter hole in a stained maple wood cabinet. What product would be best for this repair?
    Thank you,

  144. Hello… I found the article of great interest… Question … How well do these wood repair products stand up to expansion and contraction from heat and cold?

    I live in northern most Michigan… The temps get down to -20’s in the winter and 80’s in the summer… Will the repairs with these products pop out or crack the wood in the very cold or over expand the wood during a hot summer?



    1. Jeff, if properly primed and painted most of these fillers will perform well with the extreme weather changes. The absolute best for staying bonded to the wood is the Abatron products though. When used with LiquidWood, WoodEpox really holds tenaciously to the surface it’s applied to.

  145. Hi Scott,
    What should I use to fill a few drilled holes in a cedar 4 X 4 deck post. (Kwikwood?) The post will be stained after the holes are filled. Also, the post rotted where to two top rails meet in the corner allowing water to drip into the post. Any ideas to fill in the space where the top rails form the corner?

  146. Scott,
    I have a cabinet door with a previously drilled hole for concealed hinges but the holes for the mounting screws are to big. Could I used one of these techniques to fill the holes, then re-drill and fasten the hinges in whatever filler I use. I should mention I drilled the holes and put hinges at the top and bottom of the door this previously drilled hole is in the middle. Thanks for any insight you can offer,

  147. Scott, thanks for your helpful site. I have an old splintering deck and picnic table, both previously stained over 5 years ago. I would like to fill, sand and waterproof the wood. Both are made of treated lumber and are 10-20 years old.
    What do you suggest to smooth and protect from further damage of water And sun?

      1. Rather than fill all those deck boards, I suggest using one of the new thick topcoat “paint” products that you apply with a roller that basically puts a thick but even new surface on splintering old decks. Much easier than filling the boards and once it’s done it’s over. They come in various shades of tan and brown.

  148. Hi Scott, 

       I’m working on my log cabin and wanted to know what you suggest on filling in cracks/splits in the outside logs. I guess it’s due to nails splitting the wood. I’m going to fill in a lot of them so I’m going to need a large amount. I have been using Sikkens on the logs, so I’m looking for a stainable product. I saw at Lowe’s Durham’s water putty, Minwax stainable wood filler, and Elmer’s Probond wood filler. I wasn’t sure which one would be best or if one of the other six products you mention are better, if so, where should I look to buy them? Also, I do have some rot in some of the logs which I look to clean out and fill in, which product do you recommend? Will the products help prevent further splitting?
    Based on your guide, which is helpful, I should sand and clean the areas before applying the product then lastly I can stain. Any help or guidance is much appreciated. 

    Thank you in advance! 

    1. Bill, exterior wood filling and patching requires some special products especially if you aren’t planning to prime and paint the surfaces. If you were painting I would recommend Durham’s Water Putty but since you are just using a stain try some WoodEpox. It is stainable but only if it’s sanded after it cures. I’d do a couple tests to see if you can get the right color before applying it to the logs. The WoodEpox (along with LiquidWood) works great for rotted wood repairs too. The most cost effective place to get them is at Amazon //

  149. We’re trying to use an old redwood plank as a countertop, but the epoxy that was used previously to repair the wood is delaminating. There are a few fist-sized knotholes about 1″ deep. We don’t want to paint, so ideally whatever we use comes in colors or can be stained to match the wood. What would you recommend?

    1. I haven’t worked with redwood much being down in the southeast, but delaminating epoxy is no good. I would try the Abatron products making sure to use the LiquidWood first to essentially glue the WoodEpox into the repair. It’s also stainable as long as you sand the epoxy once dry. Just try pulling that stuff out once it’s cured!

  150. Scott, we’re taking carpet up off of an engineered wood surface. we’ll need to patch the nail holes left by the tack strips. can you use the same products on engineered wood? which product would you recommend? thanks for your help!

  151. hi scott! i’m working on a fireplace which has big grooves cut out by a router. we’re wanting to smooth the surface to create a modern look. i noticed in an earlier comment on the kitchen cabinets you advised bondo and didn’t know if you’d recommend the same for this situation or one of the other products in the article. it’s also a painted surface and i’ve started sanding it down to the bare wood. obviously this is more of a challenge in the grooves and i was wondering if it’s critical to get ALL the paint off or just “weather” it. thanks so much for your help!

    1. Leslie, just about any wood filler or patching compound performs best when it is used on bare wood vs. a painted surface. Your situation is tough because the area around a working fireplace will have extreme temperature swings so you’d be best suited with an epoxy filler like WoodEpox. Use that in conjunction with LiquidWood and sand down to bare wood as much as you can in the grooves. Check out this post on how to strip the paint from the grooves: //

  152. Scott, I’m buying a table that has a damaged leaf, and I want to repair that damage as easily and invisibly as possible. You make all seven products sound easy and effective, but I’m leaning toward the $5 Elmer’s Wood Filler for this, unless you think Kwikwood’s a better way to go.

    1. Since the damage is on an edge your options are a bit more limited. Kwikwood might work, but if it were me I would use a restoration epoxy called WoodEpox made by Abatron. It will cling onto the edge tenaciously and not chip off like ordinary wood filler which works best to fill a hole mostly. Once you’ve patched it you’ll need to sand, stain and finish it. Good luck!

  153. 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

    1. 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.

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

  154. 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.

    1. 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.

  155. 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!


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