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The 7 Best Products to Patch Wood

Best Products to Patch Wood

Updated 4/18/2020

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

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

The type of material you should use will depend on what kind of patching or filling you need to do. Is it exterior or interior? Will it be painted or left natural? We’ll focus on answers to those questions as well. Are you looking for the best wood filler or something more serious like a structural wood epoxy?

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

1. MH Ready Patch

As of late, this has become my go to wood filler to patch small cosmetic issues on wood. It doesn’t work for structural patches like an epoxy, but it does w. It work quite well for things like nail holes and surface scratches. It dries fast, 30-45 mins before it’s ready to sand.

It is an oil-based product, but it cleans up with soap and water, which I love! I use it to fill holes up to a dime in size, smooth out alligatoring paint, surface checks, fill surface gouges or almost anything else I may need. I really can’t extol the virtues and uses of MH Ready Patch enough. Its only weakness is when you try to fill large areas. For that I use the next item on the list.

2. LiquidWood & WoodEpox

Abatron Wood Epox

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

The repairs can be sanded, drilled, planed, and essentially you are left with a repair that performs just like wood but will never rot or fall out. Epoxy repairs are some of the strongest most long-lasting ways to patch wood. They are structural, so they can be used anywhere and are usually not troubled by water issues like other wood fillers.

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

3. Durham’s Water Putty

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

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

Water Putty can work both outdoors and indoors, but without priming and paint, it will mildew and fail rather quickly outside. Unlike other wood fillers that shrink as they dry Durham’s Water Putty expands to fill the hole.

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

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

4. KwikWood

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

I use it to fill screw holes that have stripped out so I can get a sagging door hung again quickly or other task like that. Its fast drying time and resistance to rot and mildew make it perfect for exterior repairs. I have used it outdoors and left it unpainted for years with no problem. It’s a champ and a real time saver!

5. Minwax Wood Filler

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

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

6. Sawdust & Superglue

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

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

7. DAP Painter’s Putty

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

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

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

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

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352 thoughts on “The 7 Best Products to Patch Wood

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

        Wes

  4. 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?

    Thanks

  5. 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?

    Thanks!
    Ryan

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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.
      Matt,
      M.Arch/GC

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

    Russell

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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?

    1. Ashleigh, I usually like to fill those mortise locks in with Abatron WoodEpox. Easy to use and works great especially when you are ready to drill a new hole for the new hardware.

  16. 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,
    Gerri

      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.

  17. 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?

  18. 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! 🙂

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

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