A major problem with store-bought wood putty or wood-filler is that it never quite matches the wood you are using in color or texture. Tired of spending money on something that doesn’t ‘quite’ match your project? Well, in this guide I will show you how to make your own wood-filler that will directly match the wood you are trying to patch as well as a few other tips along the way!
You can make your own wood filler when you need it by just mixing sawdust and wood glue on a paper plate until it has the consistency of putty. Then just apply it to your project to fill in gaps or chips as needed. By using sawdust from the same wood as your project, you are ensuring a perfect color match every time.
Now, I’m not saying mixing up a batch and storing a tub of something like you can buy at Home Depot. This is just a little ‘mix it up when you need it’.
It is really easy to make your own wood filler
This DIY wood filler has two ingredients:
- Fine sawdust
- Wood Glue
Yep. That’s it. Just two ingredients that you can generally mix up on the spot. Using those two items has been used historically for simple cosmetic fixes.
If you are attempting to use fill a huge void that needs to support a lot of weight or be structural in nature, you should consider doing something else. Most wood filling compounds are not considered structural in nature, due to shrinkage differences, etc.
So, how do you make it? Below is my process on making your own wood filler to fix gaps, voids, dings, etc
How to make your own wood filler using sawdust and wood glue
- Sawdust – the amount you need depends on how large of a hole/void/gap you are trying to fix
- Woodglue – any glue that bonds to wood will work. I’m using Titebond 2 because I had some on hand. But, anything that will set up and cure to wood will work, such as varnish or shellac.
- Scrap ‘stirring’ stick, popsicle stick, etc – You need something to help mix the compound, and it helps in applying it
- Scrap wood, paper plate – some surface that you don’t mind having a small pile of glue on. 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.
- A project that needs a little ‘fixing‘. I was making a small dovetail box and had a knot on one of the pins. Really I just wanted to practice making dovetails by hand, and by making a box I got to practice multiple skills at the same time. The reason I have so many knots, is that this was just construction lumber that I had planed square/straight – so it has quite a few knots! (But it is the cheapest wood to use while practicing new techniques)
- Luckily I was able to save the knot, and slide it back into place before fixing it.
How to Make Your Own Wood Filler – Illustrated Guide with Pictures
- 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 final product. 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).
- Just squirt a small amount of glue. You really just need enough to mix well with the sawdust.
- Mix the sawdust and glue together either using your fingers or a stir stick. I just get a drop of glue on the end of a stick and roll it around in the sawdust repeatedly until I’m satisfied it is well mixed. If you are mixing a lot of wood filler to fill a longer gap, you may want to wear latex gloves. You will repeat this step as necessary until your hole is filled.
How to apply your own 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. Besides, its not like this wood filler is expensive!
- 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
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