Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How I Use Wood Filler

I hope Santa was good to all of you! I had a great Christmas with my family and friends...I'm always a little sad when the Most Wonderful Time of the Year is over...but, life goes on, and there's more to look forward to.

As I was going through pics from the past few months, I realized I took some photos of a little wood-filling session I did when I was painting some cabinets, and I never shared them with you. So, I thought I'd do that today! This is just how I do it - I'm sure there are other ways, but everyone seems to like to get a little insight, so I am sharing.

I use Elmer's wood filler - the kind that comes in a tube. I think that all wood filler (unfortunately) dries out kind of quickly, so I usually just buy a small container, and it only gets used once or twice before it dries out. Annoying, but true.

here is a photo of the painted-over holes before I went back to fill them and paint over them:

before I even fill the holes, I sand down the area with my electric mouse sander. Sometimes, (especially when hardware is involved, like hinge holes) the hardware that is pressing in on the surface (the wood and the painted surface) can create indentions. It's good to sand down the indentions beforehand, to alleviate a little bit of extra work at the end.

So, after I do that, I slather on the wood putty.


I go heavy on the putty. This means that you most likely won't have to do a second round of wood filler, because you are going above and beyond with this first coat, filling all possible spaces. It takes a little while for wood putty to dry - longer than wall spackle. It's because it's thicker and stronger. Let that coat dry entirely, then you are ready for sanding.

I sand my wood filler just like I sand a piece of wood that I am trying to get smooth and pretty. I start with a heavier grit paper, like a 150 (not too rough), then move down to a 220. That way, you get the big bumps first, then you can smooth them out with a softer paper. Sometimes I just do the softer paper with my hand, and not the electric sander.

When you sand it down, there should be almost no wood filler showing at the end - this is how you'll know it's done its job. It's supposed to be completely smooth on the surface.


see, completely smooth:
(other than a few pieces of sawdust that were promptly swept away!)

Before I paint, I do a coat of primer. Wood filler can make your painted surface look matte, which is not what you're going for :) I hope this was helpful for you guys, and leave any questions in the "comments"!


  1. I always wondered what others used to fill hardware holes with. When I first started doing this furniture thing a year ago, my neighbor (who is a master carpenter and builds displays and stuff) helped me a lot with the technicalities of things. Since then I've used car bondo to fill the holes. It dries hard as nails in a short period of time and sands down very easy and you can't hardly see it under paint. Plus you can buy a huge thing of it for like $15 bucks and it lasts forever because the hardening agent is separate from the actual bondo. Every time I tell people I use bondo they are like... WHAT??? Seriously though, I recommend it! :)

  2. cool! i'm going to have to check that out. what department do you buy it in?

  3. I actually bought it at Autozone. Here is the exact stuff I have:


    It hardens stupid fast after you use the hardening agent, but I can usually get 3-5 holes filled quickly with about a half dollar sized amount of bondo. I dab it on with a putty knife then use my finger to push it through the hole. Gravity works best to pull it through too. Then I smooth it down, the best I can or I don't... doesn't matter, it sands great. Holla if you need help, but I'm sure you'll get the hang of it if you slap it on some extra stuff around the house for practice. ;)

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