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Home Improvement

Best Wood Filler

Anyone who’s ever done much woodworking has run into the problem of knots, imperfections and nail holes in their wood. If we could just build things without having to deal with these little issues, it would sure make our world easier, as filling the wood, by any means, never seems to come out as good as the original.

There are a couple of ways of filling wood. The first, and most common, is to use a wood filler, before finishing the wood. If you’re painting the wood, that’s no problem, as they are all sandable and accept paint well. The problem comes in when you want to stain and varnish the wood. Even the best of “stainable wood fillers” don’t accept the stain as well as the wood does. To get around this, you typically need to either work with your stain a little bit extra, possibly staining the patched area twice, while the rest of it is stained only once.

These wood fillers come in both water and solvent-based versions. Traditionally, solvent-based fillers have surpassed water based ones in their quality; but recent advances in materials technology has greatly improved the quality of the water based ones. Besides, they’re much easier to clean up.

Solvent-based wood fillers also tend to dry out quicker than water-based ones. So depending upon the dry time you need and the storage time as well, you may want to take that into consideration as you make your selections. Some of the solvents used in these solvent-based fillers can stain woods, so you want to be careful how you apply them.

The other way of filling imperfections and nail holes in wood is with colored putties or wax. Putties are typically used for filling nail holes in interior trim after installing your woodwork. Waxes are the common way of repairing small scratches and dings in furniture, without having to refinish the whole piece. Both of these systems allow you to color match the filler to the existing grain of the wood. This can be especially tricky with woods that have an obvious grain pattern or a lot of contrast in the grain pattern.

I even use putties and waxes for non-conventional applications, instead of even trying to stain normal wood fillers. Unless I’m trying to fill a really large area (something I try very hard to avoid) I find that I can get a better match by using putties and waxes, than I can by using “stainable” wood fillers, whether water or solvent based.

Famowood Latex Wood Filler – Natural color

I’ll go with the opinion of a multitude of woodworkers and give Famowood’s collection of wood fillers the number one spot. They have been the first choice of professional woodworkers for over 50 years. Their solvent-based fillers are pre-tinted to match 18 different colors. The water-based line, which is newer, comes in 10 colors. The great thing about a pre-tinted filler like this is that even if you are staining over it, you’re starting with something that matches your original wood. These wood fillers are strong, providing a surface that can be sanded, worked and screwed into. If you want professional results, go with what the professionals use.

Color Putty 09716 Blend Kit

I’ve used this product for years, but this is the first time I’ve seen it offered in a kit like this. Color putty comes in 16 tinted shades, which area all included in this kit. These are oil-based putties, intended to match the natural wood tones. They are usually used for filling nail holes, matching the grain’s color. Since wood is actually multi-colored, you can use a combination of different color putties on the same piece of wood. If you don’t have a perfect color match, you can easily mix two different colors together by kneading a small quantity of both colors together. Your mixed colors will keep for a long time in a sealed container. Putties can be thickened by adding Painter’s Whiting and thinned by adding mineral spirits. An excellent product, especially when you get the full kit.

Timbermate Water Based Wood Filler, Natural Color

Timbermate is a relatively new product in the American market. It’s made in Australia and is a truly wonderful product. As a fully water-based product, it can be rehydrated by adding more water or cleaned off with water. If it becomes frozen, it can be microwaved to make it usable once again; not something common to most water based products. By watering it down, it can also be used as grain filler, for open-grained wood, like oak. Unlike other fillers, that claim to accept stain, this one actually does. There are two drawbacks to this product, but by no means should either of them prevent you from buying it. The first problem is that it will make black streaks on your project if you use a steel putty knife. You have to use a plastic or stainless steel one. The other problem is that it stinks. But, once it dries, that stink is gone. Excess product can be picked back up off your project and put right back in the can, ready for next time. This allows you to use 100 percent of the product, which won’t go bad on the shelf. As the product dries, it lightens, so it may not appear to match your wood any more. Never fear, applying finish (such as urethane varnish) will darken the color, making it match the rest of your project.

DAP Plastic Wood Solvent Wood Filler

If you don’t know DAP as a company, then you haven’t been around painting or woodworking very long. Since 1865, DAP has manufactured glues, caulking, fillers and many other chemical products for the construction industry. Their wide range of products can be found literally anywhere. For the number 2 pick, I’ve gone with an old standby, DAPs Plastic Wood® filler. I remember my dad using this stuff when I was a kid. The thing that impressed me was that he could pull a screw out of a stripped out hole, squirt some plastic wood into it, and put that screw right back in, ending up with a better, stronger bond than the screw itself could have in the wood. I’ve used DAP® Plastic Wood® myself since I was a teenager. Their solvent-based, stainable wood filler comes in 10 different natural wood colors. This is a product with a history of quality and reliability, which you can’t go wrong in using.

FastCap Softwax Filler Kit

I’m putting something a little bit different in here for the number five pick. One of the problems that most people have with wood fillers is in matching the colors. That’s why I’ve basically stuck to pre-colored wood fillers (except for Elmers). Even wood fillers that claim to be stainable usually aren’t; at least not totally so. This is a wood filler kit, designed more for repairs on damaged, chipped or scratched wood furniture that’s already been finished. the 20 different colors of wax filler will allow you to match just about any wood finish that you can find. Just keep in mind that this is a soft filler, so you can’t screw into it once it’s applied.

Rich the Tool Man

Before embarking on the current stage of my life, I spent 15 years as a Manufacturing Engineer in both the medical equipment field (medical electronics) and automotive engineering (city transit buses). After that, I owned a small construction company, mostly doing residential remodeling and commercial tenant finishes. I am no longer in either of these fields, but still get my hands plenty dirty as a consummate do-it-yourselfer; working on everything from remodeling my own home to rebuilding my car’s engines. My hobby (when I can find the time) is woodworking; making everything from toilet paper holders, to shelves, to music stands for my own home. My wife long ago gave up the idea that a two car garage is for parking two cars; it is my workshop.

While I cannot claim to having worked professionally with all types of tools, I have worked professionally with some. This comes from my previous careers, where I had to specify, buy and at times live with those decisions. Additionally, I would have to say that my engineering background has given me a thorough understanding of the construction of such tools. So, while I may not have used a particular type of tool personally, I have the knowledge to cut through all the advertising hype and statistics; in order to get at the truth of how well a tool will operate and last.

In my current career as a writer, I've written over 90 books. This includes my own titles and those I've written on contract. I've also written a complete website on how to build your own home.

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