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The 7 Best Products for Patching Wood

By The Craftsman on Apr 22, 2013

Sometimes it’s nail holes and sometimes it’s rotten wood, but your projects will often require you to patch wood. In this post I’ll help you determine the best materials (and there are tons available!) to use when the time comes to patch wood projects.

The type of material you should use will depend on what kind of patching or filling you need to do. Is it exterior or interior? Will it be painted or left natural? We’ll focus on answers to those questions as well.


1. Durham’s Water Putty


This product is extremely versatile and is a mainstay of my shop. Mix the powder with water to whatever consistency you need. If you want it to self-level, mix it thinner. If you need it to stick to a vertical surface mix it thicker.

Apply it with a putty knife of whatever tool is most applicable to your project. And let it dry. Drying time varies wildly depending on how big the wood patch is and the weather. Once it is dry sand it smooth, prime, and paint.

Water Putty can work both outdoors and indoors, but without priming and paint, it will mildew and fail rather quickly. The great stuff about Durham’s Water Putty is that as it dries it expands to fill the hole and really sticks into the patch unlike most wood fillers that shrink as they dry.


2. MH Ready Patch


As of late, this has become my go to filler to patch wood. It doesn’t work for structural patches like an epoxy, but it does almost everything else. It dries fast, 30-45 mins before it’s ready to sand.

It is an oil-based product, but it cleans up with soap and water, which I love! I use it to fill holes up to a quarter in size, smooth out alligatoring paint, fill surface gouges or almost anything else I may need. I really can’t extol the virtues and uses of MH Ready Patch enough.


3. Epoxy

There are tons of different types of epoxies for wood. Mots of them are two-part liquids that are mixed together and quickly harden.

Working with epoxies can be challenging and they aren’t very forgiving of errors, but epoxy repairs are some of the strongest most long-lasting ways to patch wood. They are structural, so they can be used anywhere and are usually not troubled by water issues like some of the putties above.

If you decide to use these, they tend to work best for large repairs and you’ll need to do a little studying and practice before tackling epoxies.


4. Wood Filler


Wood filler is available everywhere, and it is the standard. Some wood fillers have a sandy consistency and some are smoother. There are interior formulas and exterior as well.

The nice thing about wood filler is that you can usually find it in many different colors or in stainable options to achieve an even better color match. Apply it with a finger tip or putty knife, and sand when it’s smooth and prime when you’re done.


5. Sawdust & Superglue

This is an old carpenters trick to fill nail holes on furniture that will be left unpainted. This method works great for filling small holes in woodwork.

To patch wood using this method, you’ll need sawdust from the specific wood you are patching. Mix it with just a bit of superglue. You don’t need a lot of glue, just enough to bind the sawdust together and create a thick paste. Use a putty knife to push the mixture into the nail holes quickly since superglue dries so quickly. Once it’s dry, sand the surface and you’re good to go.


6. DAP Painter’s Putty


This putty excels at filling nail holes and other small spots. The thing I love about it is that it doesn’t require sanding. Use your finger to push it into the hole, and then smooth the surface level with your finger.

This is an oil-based putty which makes it fairly slow drying, especially if it is primed or painted with an oil-based paint. That slow drying aspect means that it remains flexible for a longer period which is very helpful. The negatives are that it doesn’t do well in large gaps and also has a tendency to make your paint “flash” if not primed.


7. KwikWood


Anyone who does wood repair should have a tube of this sitting in their shop or garage. This is a 2-part epoxy that you mix with your hands. It is kind of like squishing a tootsie roll together to mix both parts. Once you mix it, you have about 10 minutes before it starts to set up and in 20-30 mins, it is hard as a rock.

I use it to for difficult profiles that I need to sculpt or as a structural repair. It’s fast drying time, and resistance to rot and mildew make it perfect for exterior repairs. I have used it outdoors and left it unpainted for years with no problem. It’s a champ and a real time saver!

Hopefully, this post has given you some great new products to try. I know these will make your projects go smoother and look better. Happy patching!

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