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In Search of the Best Wood Filler

best wood filler

Having worked in the restorations trades for more than 20 years I have constantly been on the search for the best wood filler. I have tried countless products that at first seemed like a winner only to find, just like my high school dating experiences, they wouldn’t go the distance.

The conclusion I have come to is that there isn’t just one product, but rather a group of products that can handle any wood patching task I need. The best wood filler is sometimes not a wood filler at all, but a wood epoxy or even a putty. In this post, I’ll give you my take on the best products to patch wood on the market today.

The first thing you need to consider when choosing the best wood filler is what its use will be. Is it outdoors or indoors, painted or varnished, structural or cosmetic? There is a product for any need listed below, and you’ve just got to find the right one from the list below.

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.

MH Ready Patch

Best for small cosmetic repairs and surface leveling – MH Ready Patch is a great patch for a myriad of little patches. It doesn’t work for structural patches like an epoxy, but it does work quite well for things like nail holes and surface imperfections in painted wood (it’s not stainable). It dries fast, 30-45 mins and 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 smaller than a dime in size, smooth out alligatoring paint, surface checks, fill surface gouges or almost anything else I may need. Its only weakness is when you try to fill large areas which causes it to sag and shrink. Keep it limited to very small areas and always make sure you paint it because it will not last if left exposed to the elements.

LiquidWood & WoodEpox

Abatron Wood Epox

Best for structural repairs or rebuilding of big portions of wood – There are tons of different types of epoxies for wood, but this product is by far my favorite because of its ease of use and long performance.

We use this every single day and my rot repair franchise Preservan uses a similar product by the truckload. 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.


Best for small structural repairs in a hurry – 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 tasks like that. Its fast drying time and resistance to rot and mildew make it perfect for exterior repairs too. I have used it outdoors and left it unpainted for years (not on purpose) with no problem.

Minwax Wood Filler

Best all-purpose wood filler – You knew I’d get around to an actual wood filler soon, right? 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 not be used for larger applications like the Abatron products above. It’s also a great option for stained and varnished projects as well as paint grade repairs.

Sawdust & Wood Glue

Best for color matching and flooring joints – This is a weird little trick that an old floor refinisher taught me and it really has worked great in very specific circumstances. Here’s how it works:

To patch wood using this method, you’ll need sawdust from the specific wood you are patching. Mix it with enough wood glue to get the consistency you need. You can make this a wet slurry and trowel it into the joints between old floor boards or make a thick paste to fill spots on damaged furniture.

You have to work fast enough that the glue doesn’t begin to dry on you, but to match the color of a repair for something that will be stained and varnished there is nothing better. Once it’s dry, sand the surface thoroughly and you’re good to go.

Austin’s Glazier’s Putty

austin’s glazier’s putty

Best for flexible joint fillingGlazing putty isn’t a wood filler, right? Wrong. For filling nail holes or joints glazing putty is actually incredibly useful.

Some glazing putties are bright white (DAP 33) which can hide well for painted trim, but are hard to see if you’ve gotten good coverage plus they can take weeks to cure. That’s why I created my own glazing putty with the help of the folks at Sarco Putty Co. that is usually ready for painting within just 24 hrs. It is also available in a brown color to blend in better for varnished projects.

For a better option to filling joints and ease of application you can’t beat a glazing putty. I can often use this in place of caulk for certain circumstances where more body is required than caulk which tends to sag.

What to Avoid

You’ll notice that there is one product I specifically did not include here that a lot of people use…Bondo. There is a good reason why it is not included in a post about the best wood filler and I’ve outlined why you should absolutely avoid Bondo when it comes to patching wood in this more in-depth post.

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 or is there some other product that deserves the title of best wood filler.

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357 thoughts on “In Search of the Best Wood Filler

  1. Scott, I have found that for deeper, exterior, & even light rot areas, that mixing Cypress or Cedar shavings &/or dust, depending on the situation, mixed thoroughly with clear Wood Epoxy works extremely well & we have been very satisfied with that method for some time. It is indeed expensive, but the results seem well worth it & more natural.

  2. Scott,
    I love your reviews they are a real life saver. What a great job you do.
    I once repaired a spaceship for my youngest son. He enjoyed it for years and has passed it on to his son thanks to your wonderful advice. Maybe some day this will inspire his son generations to come. I will recommend they all watch & subscribe your reviews because no one else reviews better than you. I use to watch other videos but you seem to communicate the products better then anyone. Some of the popular advertisements are even fun. Fun for the whole family too. They keep us busy & entertained during your videos. Sometimes my grand son sits for hours just clicking the x’s like playing space invaders ack in the day, while I listen to your beautiful voice chattering away.. Maybe this will inspire him to become a computer scientist or maybe even an astronaut someday!
    All the best,

  3. My kitchen cabinets were built in 1975: a dark stained pine. Because it is such soft wood, it scrapes so easily with my finger nails and small nicks occur quickly. Is it possible to harden the edges of all my doors and drawers and then I would remove the stain and use a paint method to redo the cabinets completely? Would the Abitron Wood Epoxy do the trick? Thank you very much for your answer in advance

  4. MH Ready Patch is the bomb. I’m using it to conceal old damage to a large beam, and I’m delighted by its adhesion and workability. Have been working on old buildings for years, yet somehow had never heard of MH Ready Patch. Highly recommended!

  5. Really enjoyed your advise on wood fillers etc. My problem is: a round wooden chopping board with a large split. What filler can i use that will be SAFE when chopping food again.?

  6. I have some antique furniture that was my great grandmothers that has some missing veneer in places. I would like to stain to match the current finishes. What product do you recommend? Thank you in advance for your help! 🙂

  7. 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?

  8. 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?

  9. 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”

  10. 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.

  11. 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?

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