Wood filler is a substance that can be used for a multitude of different purposes to repair your wood products. There are different types, including water-based, which can be thinned simply by adding more water, and solvent-based, which has a thicker consistency and is usually used for jobs that require a thicker layer, such as patching holes or cracks. While it may come down to personal preference as to which compound you want your wood filler to be made with, the consistency needs to fit the job. Regardless of which type you use, there are a number of different things you can repair using wood filler.
1. Filling Holes
You can use a thicker wood filler to fill up cracks and holes in your wood products. The interior surface of the crack or hole needs to be prepared before you can push the wood filler in. Use sandpaper to smooth out the inside as much as you can, and make sure to remove all the sawdust using a vacuum. Once the inside is smoothed, simply use a putty knife to press the wood filler in and smooth the top out. Once it has dried, sand the top until it is even with the wood surface. This can be handy for a number of different wood products that are susceptible to cracking, such as wood flooring, furniture, and many other things. You can also paint or stain over the putty once it has been sanded smooth, but make sure it is completely dry before applying anything.
2. Smoothing Wood Grain
Smooth the wood grain before you stain or paint a wood surface for the first time. Larger pored woods, such as oak, soak up stain like a sponge, and a thin coat of wood filler gives a smooth, almost glass-like surface to paint or apply your stain on. You want to use a larger putty knife or a trowel to apply the layer of wood filler because you have a larger surface area to work on, and the larger tool lets you apply a thinner layer. Once it has dried, you can sand the surface down to smooth it out before you apply the layer of paint or stain. Again, make sure the wood filler has completely dried before sanding or applying paint or stain.
For surfaces of furniture, rather than load bearing elements, such as the legs of chairs, you will want to use a combination of thick and thin wood filler, depending on the size of the spots you need to fix. For load bearing elements, you need to use a stronger substance than traditional wood filler, such as a wood hardener.
For floors, you will generally need to use a thinner wood filler, unless there are cracks you need to fill. In either case, you need to spread it evenly and make sure it's dry before applying the stain.