If you have a hole, crack or blemish in a piece of wood that you need to fix, don’t worry – it’s a relatively easy fix. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through three methods to repair the hole, crack or blemish.
The three main methods for filling a hole in wood are;
- Use a wood filler / putty product
- Use sawdust and glue to make your own filler
- Use wood plugs
For each of the methods, we’ll explain the steps necessary to fix the hole and then redrill it so that the repair is as seamless as possible.
Follow these simple steps and your hole will be good as new!
Method #1 – Using wood filler to fill holes in wood
Materials and equipment you’ll need for filling holes in wood
- Flexible putty knife to apply the filler
- The wood filler product of your choice
- Sandpaper or orbital sander
- Dustpan or Vacuum to clean up the dust
- Tack cloth for removing residual dust from the wood
- Rags for cleaning up
- Turpentine or spirits for clean-up (if using an oil-based product)
What is wood filler? (Two main types)
Wood filler is a substance that is used to fill holes, blemishes or cracks in timber. It is available in both water-based and oil-based options and can be purchased at any hardware store. Wood filler is also known as ‘wood putty’.
Water-based wood filler is the best option for filling most holes in wood, as it is easy to apply and dries quickly with an easy clean up. Plus, it can be sanded down once it is dry so that the repaired area is flush with the rest of the wood.
Oil-based wood filler is a good choice if the timber you are working with will be exposed to lots of moisture. This could be the case if the timber is in a bathroom area or outdoors.
How do I apply wood filler to repair a hole?
Step One: Clean out the hole or blemish in the timber
Use a scraper to remove chips, splinters or paint residue around the hole. If you need to, you can also use a drill bit to make the hole cleaner and wider so it is easier to fill.
Step Two: Smooth the edges using sandpaper
Take a medium grain piece of sandpaper and lightly sand the edges of the hole so it will be easier to apply the putty. Grab your vacuum or a dry paint brush to get rid of dust around the hole.
Step Three: Clean up the surface ready to apply the filler
Now take a damp tack cloth to clean the remaining dust residue from the surface so the putty will adhere properly to the wood. Wait for any dampness from the tack cloth to dry before proceeding to the next step.
Step Four: Press the filler down and spread it evenly around the hole
Using your putty knife, generously apply putty to the hole or crack.
To ensure the filler gets completely into the hole, use your knife to press the wood filter down inside the hole. It’s not essential to get it perfect, but make it as level as you can.
Step Five: Overfill the hole with the wood filler
The filler may shrink when it dries so apply the filler around the edge of the hole and over the top so that it protrudes above the surface. You can always sand it down later.
Step Six: Wait for the wood filler to dry
Read the instructions on the back of your filler/putty product to determine how long you should allow for drying. Many putties and fillers will dry within an hour, but depending on the product, the drying time can be up to 8 hours.
Step Seven: Use sandpaper to smooth the surface
Once the wood filler has dried completely, smooth down the area using standard sandpaper, or an orbital sander if you have one. Sand it until the filler is level with the surface of the rest of the wood. If you find the hole isn’t filled or the surface doesn’t look right, then add more filler and repeat steps 4-7.
How do I paint a repaired area in timber / wood? Follow these steps
Step One: Prime the area
Apply primer on the repaired area to seal the filled area and prepare the surface for a top coat of paint to adhere to.
Step Two: Apply the matching paint color with the surrounding area.
Method #2. Create your own wood filler using sawdust and glue
Mixing sawdust and glue is a cheap way to fill screw holes in wood for reuse. The most popular choice among DIYers, this mixture can be used by anyone who needs quick results without having go out of their way to the hardware store to get a putty or wood filler.
Materials and Equipment needed for making your own wood filler
- Sander or circular saw / drop saw
- Bag or container for collecting sawdust
- Wood glue
- Matching timber offcuts
- Dust mask
- Tack Cloth
- Damp cloth or rag for clean up
How do I make my own wood filler using sawdust and glue?
Step One: Collect some sawdust from your workspace.
If you don’t have any, you can create some by cutting up some spare timber offcuts that match the wood you are trying to fix. Use a sander or circular saw / drop saw to create the dust. It’s important to wear a dust mask and gloves while doing this to avoid inhaling the particles and getting them on your skin. Remove any larger fragments or particles from the sawdust.
Step Two: Mix your sawdust and glue
Once you have enough sawdust, mix it with an equal amount of wood glue. You can do this in a bag or old container. You want the texture to be like a thick putty, not too runny. Work quickly so the glue doesn’t have time to harden.
Step Three: Apply the mixture to the hole or crack
Using a putty knife or your fingers (with gloves on), apply your mixture to the hole. Overfill the hole slightly, as the mixture will shrink as it dries. Don’t work without gloves as the oils from your fingers can affect the mixture and stain it so it will not match the color correctly.
Step Four: Clean up excess then allow the filler to dry completely
Use a damp cloth or rag to clean up any excess filler that may have gotten on the surrounding wood. Clean up your putty knife or tools right away with warm water or turpentine/spirits for oil-based or epoxy glues. It is much easier to clean before the mixture dries completely!
Step Five: Sand it down
Once the filled area is completely dry, sand it down so it is flush with the surface of the timber. Then use a tack cloth to remove any dust from the area before continuing.
Step Six: Finish the surface
To finish, apply a matching stain or paint color to the area. If painting, apply a primer first to seal the filled area and help the paint stick better.
And that’s it! You’ve now fixed the hole in your wood using sawdust and glue, without having to go out and buy putty or filler from the hardware store.
#Bonus Tip! Add matchsticks to holes for extra strength
Before filling the hole with your own homemade filler or store-bought putty/filler, add some matchsticks or toothpicks. This will provide extra strength to the filling so you can screw or drill back into the area later if you need to.
Method #3. Using wood plugs to fill holes in wood
Wood plugs are another common material that you can make or buy from the hardware store. They are best for large straight holes.
How do I use wood plugs to fill holes in wood?
Step One: Cut a wood plug to size using a saw
It’s important that the plug is slightly smaller than the hole, as it will expand as it’s inserted, plus you need room for the glue
Step Two: Apply some wood glue and insert the plug
Add some wood glue generously to the end of the plug and insert it into the hole. Use a hammer to tap it in until it’s flush with the surface, or just above.
Step Three: Allow the glue to dry completely
before sanding the area smooth. Use a tack cloth to remove any dust from the area before continuing.
Step Four: Finish the surface
To finish, apply a matching paint color to the area. Use a damp cloth or rag to clean up any excess filler that may have gotten on the surrounding wood.
And that’s it! You’ve now filled the hole in your wood using a wood plug. This is a quick and easy fix that will last for years to come.
How do I redrill wood after filling holes?
If you need to redrill a hole in wood that has been filled, it’s important to take a few precautions first. Otherwise, you run the risk of the drill bit breaking or the plug coming out.
Step One: Mark the position for the hole
Use a sharpened dowel, awl or small piece of wood to create an indent in the center of the plug. This will help to keep the drill bit from slipping.
Step Two: Drill a pilot hole
Carefully drill a hole through the center of the plug, using a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the one you originally used.
Step Three: Drill the final hole
Clean up any debris from drilling and remove the pilot hole dowel. You can now redrill the hole using the correct size drill bit.
And that’s it! You’ve now successfully redrilled a hole in wood that has been filled. This is a quick and easy fix that will last for years to come.
How to drill a new hole in repaired timber / wood
Once you have repaired the hole or blemish in your timber, you will need to create a new hole. Use a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the original hole. If you are able to, move the hole to a different location in the timber so you are not weakening the area that you just repaired. If this is not possible, then you should have reinforced the hole with matchsticks or toothpicks during the repair phase to add strength.
Now, redrill the new hole. Go slowly and use a low speed on your drill. You want to create a smooth, clean hole without any jagged edges.
Your timber should now be repaired and you can continue to use it as normal!
There you have it! Three quick and easy methods for filling holes in wood. Whether you need a quick fix or something more permanent, these methods will get the job done. So next time you’re faced with a hole in your wood, don’t fret! Just follow one of these methods and you’ll have it filled in no time.
Bonus Tip: Hiding the repair with new hardware
This is more like a decoration method than a fix method. Suppose, you want to fix a hole on your cabinet door. To help hide the repair, you can simply change the old hardware for new hardware that is larger so it hides the hole perfectly and also gives a new look to your furniture.
Step One: Remove the old hardware from the piece of furniture.
This will likely involve unscrewing some screws or bolts. Keep track of all the pieces and how they go back together, as you’ll need to reassemble them later.
Step Two: Choose new hardware that is slightly larger than the holes left behind.
This will help to cover up the holes and give the furniture a new look.
Step Three: Install the new hardware
If possible install the new hardware using the same screw or bolt holes that were used for the old hardware. This will likely involve some drilling, so be sure to use the correct size drill bit.
And that’s it! You’ve now successfully covered up the old holes in your furniture using new hardware. This is a quick and easy fix that will give your furniture a whole new look.
FAQs on How to Fill a Hole in Wood and redrill
Is it OK to screw into putty or wood filler?
Yes, you can screw into the wood filler, but it’s not recommended. The screws will likely not hold as well as they would in solid wood, and over time the holes may become larger and the filler may start to crumble. It is better to move the screw to a fresh area of timber if possible as this will provide more strength.
Can I use super glue to fix a hole in wood?
Yes, you can use super glue to fix a hole in wood. Just be sure to use enough glue to fill the hole completely and allow it to dry thoroughly before using the piece of furniture.
Do I need to sand the hole before filling it?
It’s not strictly necessary to sand the hole before filling it, but it will help the filler to adhere better and create a smoother finish.
Do I need to prime wood filler?
No, you don’t need to prime wood filler. However, if you’re painting or staining the piece of furniture after filling the hole, it’s a good idea to use a primer that is compatible with the paint or stain you’ll be using. This will help to create a smooth, even finish.
What is the best way to fix a large hole in wood?
For large holes, it’s best to use a two-part epoxy filler. These fillers are strong and durable, making them ideal for repairing large holes. Just be sure to follow the instructions carefully and allow the filler to dry thoroughly before painting or finishing. You may want to add some timber offcuts or wood plugs into the hole to add strength.
Next time you have an unwanted hole, blemish or crack in a piece of timber or furniture, you can follow the directions in this article.
There are a few simple ways to fix the hole and get your drill back on track. We’ve outlined some of the quickest and most effective ways to fill a hole in wood and re-drill with tools and materials that are readily available.
If you have any questions about woodworking, carpentry or these methods described, let us know in the comments below or reach out to our team for more help.