What Wood Filler to Use?

Repair, Wood Filler, Wood Putty -

What Wood Filler to Use?

What is wood filler versus wood putty?  What are wood fill sticks?  The words used to describe wood filler products we confusing.  We made this video to show the products we use for wood repair in our furniture repair shop so you understand when to use each one.

The description on the labels of the wood filler products I use are as follows:

  • Wood patch
  • Wood filler
  • Wood putty
  • Wood repair epoxy putty
  • Fill pencil
  • Putty pencil
  • Putty stick filler
  • Wax filler stick
  • Quick fill burn-in stick

The marketing of these products makes them very confusing to understand.  Let me break these down into categories to better understand what they're used for.  The first is what I call a wood filler.  It's a thick, mud-like product that's used to fill holes and dents in bare wood.  This is used for filling defects in woodworking that will be painted.  It can also be used on wood that will be stained, but it is challenging to disguise the wood filler from being seen.

The second category of wood fillers is a putty.  By definition, a putty is something that is soft, malleable, and hardens.  Wood putty is used on finished wood surfaces and is available in a variety of colors.  It's intended to be worked into the defect and left to harden.  Wood putty can't be sanded as it doesn't harden enough.  I typically use this to fill nail holes at the edge of a hardwood floor where the last few strips of flooring must be surface nailed.

Another type of wood putty is epoxy putty.  This is a product that will dry very hard and is difficult to sand because it is so hard.  The advantage of an epoxy putty is that it will hold structure, unlike other wood putty products.  I use it to repair carvings or wood damage on the corner of cabinets where the putty must hold strong.  It's best to shape it into the finished dimensions as it hardens to avoid excessive labor in sanding.

The last category of wood fillers is what I describe as wax fillers.  These come in different forms; pencils, crayons, soft sticks, and hard sticks.  The softer wax fillers can be rubbed into the defect and buffed out.  They're used on finished wood only.  The hard sticks I use are burn-in sticks, used with a hot knife or soldering iron to melt the wax and blend it into the defect.  I prefer burn-in sticks as I can work in multiple colors that closely match the wood grain and conceal the filled area most effectively.

I hope you found this information useful.  If you have questions, please post a comment in the YouTube video comments section.

Scott