How to make your own Wood Filler – DIY

You can make your own woodfiller to fill dents, splinters, or grain tear out on a project by simply mixing up some sawdust (preferably from the same piece of wood) and a bit of wood glue. You simply pour a bit of sawdust on a plate, and add a bit of glue and then mix them thoroughly until it has the consistency of chewing gum. Then, using a toothpick or putty knife (depending on the void you are filling) apply the wood filler and then make it smooth.

I have used this method for years with success in hiding or repairing blemishes in my projects. I could be that you had a knot pop out, or that a piece became chipped – this method will repair it and make it look great.

When you should not use homemade wood filler

DIY wood filler can’t be stained

This is a time tested method that works and is effective. But there are some key thing to be aware of – this wood filler will not be able to be stained. So if you apply it to repair a blemish, you will not be able to stain that portion. No matter how many times you apply stain to the woodfiller, it will remain that same color that it was when you first used it.

The reason this happens is because the pores within the wood, or sawdust have been filled with glue that has now cured/set-up. And the wood glue will thus act as a sealer. There is no way for the stain to enter the wood and change the color.

Non-structural use only

One other consideration in regards to DIY wood filler is that it, and it’s commercially available counterparts are not intended for structural repairs. They should only be used for fixing minor cosmetic defects.

Materials needed


The amount you need depends on how large of a hole/void/gap you are trying to fix. But if at all possible, use sawdust from the same piece of wood you are working with so that the color matches. If this isn’t possible, then try to use sawdust from the same species of wood.

Wood glue

Regular wood glue works great for making wood filler. But so will varnish or shellac – the point it you need something that will solidify after being applied.

A stirring stick

You need something to help mix the compound. It is best if it is something you can dispose of when finished. A small splinter, popsicle stick, or even a toothpick will work.

A surface for mixing

You need a surface that you don’t mind having a small pile of glue on or getting messy.  I used a simple paper plate in this guide.

Putty knife

it can be handy to help give the mixture a somewhat smooth/flat finish once you have filled it in.  Or you can just use a small scrap splinter, etc.

Paper towels

these are obviously handy to have around whenever you are using glue.  Just to keep the project nice and neat or clean your hands.

Making the woodfiller

Place sawdust and glue on your scrap wood or paper plate.  You need to use enough sawdust to fill your gap/void. I just estimate how much, then put a little bit more on.  Now, the finer the sawdust the better the wood filler. 

Since I was cutting dovetails, I had a saw with a lot of small teeth, which means really fine sawdust.  Alternatively, you could use a random-orbital sander with dust collection bag to generate some very fine sawdust too.  Just use fine grit sandpaper (like 200 grit).

For the glue, squirt a small amount on the plate. The amount of glue for making wood filler should be smaller than the pile of sawdust.  If the consistency is too dry, then it is easy to add more glue. It is harder to add more sawdust.

making homemade wood filler

Then, mix the glue and sawdust together and check the consistency. I find it easiest to dip the stirring stick into the glue, and then into the sawdust. Mix or mash it around until you get a consistency similar to chewing gum.

Applying DIY wood filler

After the sawdust and glue are thoroughly mixed, start dabbing it into your ‘hole’ or void.  Keep applying it and using the stick to push it in until the hole is completely filled. Be generous with how much you use, as you want to completely fill it. 

applying diy wood filler

Use another piece of scrap or putty knife to scrape away excess wood filler

Let the mixture dry overnight

Use a file or sandpaper to smooth it out.  I really like a flat file, as it allows me to keep the surface even with the non-damaged areas.

Final Results – DIY Wood Filler

After using a file I made my ‘void’ virtually invisible.  So, not only was I successful in gluing a knot back into place, but I made the surrounding area look like it was always there.

I mean just look – My project went from this

(with the knot inserted)


diy woodfiller
homemade wood filler

Final thoughts

Making your own DIY wood filler is a cheap, easy way to make minor cosmetic repairs to projects and builds. It will match the color of the base wood you are using perfectly assuming you use sawdust from the same piece. It sets up quick, and cleans up quick too, making this a cheap, easy, and effective repair method.

But, as stated above, if your piece needs to be stained, then the DIY wood filler will not match the color and will be a bit noticeable. Also, if the repair you are trying to fix could be compromised structurally, then you should replace the entire piece or try some other repair method.

Find more DIY projects here

Joe Foster

Hi - I grew up outdoors in nature - hiking, fishing, hunting. In high school I got my first job at a garden center where I learned to garden and landscape. I've been growing plants from seed and designing native plant gardens for over 10 years. I hope to share some of my knowledge with you! You may have seen some of my videos I create on our YouTube channel, GrowitBuildit (more than 10 million views!). You can find my channel here: Additionally I am a wood worker / DIY enthusiast. I enjoy designing/building projects (with hand tools when I can!). I hope to give you some tips and useful information!

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