How to Fill Wood Holes in 6 Easy Steps!

How to Fill Wood Holes

Filling holes is not anyone’s favorite thing to do. Actually, it feels really boring. But no matter how pro you are at woodworking; mistakes are bound to take place. So, what you can do is accept the fact and make a way out of it. And filling those holes is the way out!

Today it’s going to be all about how to fill wood holes. Let’s go for it!

Filling Wood Holes: Step-by-Step Guide

Now there can be a few types of holes that need dealing. You may be asking how to fill screw holes in wood before painting? Or your question could be as simple one as, how to fill a hole in wood and redrill? These situations might bring the need for a Wood Screw.

There are different ways to tackle various situations. I’ll be providing a step-by-step guide to keep it simple.

What You’ll Need

  1. Stainable Wood Filler.
  2. Putty Knife.
  3. Rags or Cloth.
  4. Sander with Oscillation.
  5. If you use any petroleum-based filler get some acetone.
  6. Wood Stain
  7. Tack Cloth
  8. Suitable Grit Sandpaper.
  9. Vacuum (Optional).

Be Careful of Wood Filler

You need to mix the filler material inside a container. Use a putty knife to do this perfectly.

If you let the filler sit inside container for too long, it can start separating. Make sure the color and texture are smooth after mixing.

One mistake that beginner woodworkers often do is loading their putty knife with more than enough filler. Then they slather it on the hole and believe it’s possible to later sand it off. But what they don’t understand is that these products are so prone to getting hard quickly.

Sometimes there is even case of filling more than necessary products inside softwood which leads to making it hard. One incident of mine with a pinewood was horrible and I learned my lesson with these fillers from then.

So, the point is, when you apply these fillers, try to put a conservative amount. You need to apply only a slight amount until it dries off completely. This is the right way.

Filling in the Material

When anyone asks me how to fill large holes in wood furniture, I simply tell them to master the putty knife using skills. You also need to understand what type of filler or putty you’re using.

If you are using petroleum-based ones that are really fast at hardening, then work fast. On the other hand, a filler with water as the base is creamy in texture. So, they are often wet and takes a long time to harden.

Using the putty knife, you need to firmly press filler inside holes. Make sure to not do it too quickly and mess up. You need to scrape off any extra amount later.

While using the putty knife don’t just gauge patched space.

You can also use your fingers to do the pressing job. Simply fill the wood filler inside cracks using your finger. Then wipe away any excess amount out from wood furniture.

Make sure to get rid of the filler from your finger right away. Don’t let it sit on your skin for too long.

You can use a dry cloth to wipe it completely. Use plenty of water to get rid of any residue at all. Most water or petroleum-based fillers are going to be okay for removing that way.

Smooth it with Sandpaper

Now let the filler or putty completely dry off. It would usually need less than thirty minutes. But for the safe drying, you should give it at least an hour to fit in.

A good filler will usually be very hard to sand. However, that’s also good news since your filler is working properly. You should use an oscillating sander for the smoothening down.

Try using medium grit sandpaper for the task. Then you can go for another fine 220 grit paper. You should always use the hand sanding motion for later type.

Also, make sure to rub with the sandpaper following wood grain direction. This way you’ll be able to leave very faint scratches behind that matches with the wood design. Also, it will make the filler look way more natural.

Let All Dust Go Away

It’s time to get rid of any dust from the sanding area. If they are left behind then this will create a lot of issue for staining and finishing steps.

This filler liquid can mix with debris and create a lumpy surface. It’s definitely something not adorable at all. Actually, the pretty opposite of what this process is meant to do.

So, for a nicely sanded surface, you need to use a tack cloth. Using this sticky cheesecloth, you’ll be able to get rid of all fine dust from the surface of wood. It will make the finish even better.

If you have to deal with a large amount of dust then use a shop vacuum. You can also go for towels. But for the bulk of dust removal, a shop vacuum is an ideal option. Then you can simply wipe using the tack cloth. This will leave a dust-free, clean area.

Finish it Out with a Stain

Now once you get the complete surface clean from dust and debris, it’s time for the best wood finish or a suitable stain to enter this process. This protective finish will help in color equalization and give a better look in the end.

However, it is not possible to make the filler completely invisible. It’s definitely going to be noticeable, but lesser. There’s another reason behind that.

Fillers have this ability to absorbs stain quite differently. That’s why the end result usually looks rarely any perfect match.

You can surely try some pre-color for the wood filler. This will make the application blend better into wood finish. You can also mix the wood stain with filler before applying it.

This could be a step to a different kind of experiment. Most of the time, a darker stain works better for such type of mixing.

One thing you need to ensure is about the formula of both stain and filler. If you are using a water-based filler then go for a similar consistency for stain as well. The same goes for a petroleum-based filler and stain.


Before jumping into the whole filling process, make sure to dress in proper wear. You can use rubber gloves to apply filler with your fingers.

While filling holes, don’t rush into any step. It needs time to settle from one step to another. This process is quite simple but it needs your time and patience. So, make sure to keep it that way.

And in the end, you’ll love the results.

About Sam Maxi

Hi, this is Sam Maxi. I love talking about woodwork tools and my reviews are mostly based on the experience I have from my work. Apart from reviewing, I am a huge fan of surfing. Also, I love watching horror genre movies.

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