A large or small hole in any woodworking project affects the overall appeal of the wooden surface. However, when you know how to fill a hole in wood and what material to use, then the repair work couldn’t be easier.

Patching up holes in wood doesn’t require any special skills. Once you have the materials needed; the steps are pretty easy to follow.

This article explores the 9 ingenious methods of filling holes in wood to help you complete the job like a pro.

Let’s dive deeper.

How to Fill a Hole in Wood

To fill a hole in wood, you’ll need wood filler or putty. Slightly overfill the hole to counteract the shrinkage as the wood filler dries. Sand the surface smooth, prime, and paint or stain once the wood filler has hardened. But first, does wood putty dry? Find out more.

Types of Holes in Wood

There are two types of wood holes: Small and large wood holes. They both require different types of materials to fill them in. 

Small holes in wood can occur from a nail or screw holes, cracks, and gouges. These small-sized gaps are best sealed with materials like wood plugs, filler, putty, paste, and wood glue.

Large and wide holes require more products with a stronger hold to restore the structural integrity of the damaged wood. In which case, products like wood mastic and a two-part epoxy kit will do the needed justice.

How to Fill a Hole in Wood Step by Step

In this section, we’re looking at different methods to fill a hole in wood. But first, here’s a general list of supplies you will need to get the job done. 

Tools and materials you’ll need

  • Wood filler material
  • Putty knife
  • Hacksaw with a metal blade
  • Wooden mallet
  • Sandpaper
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Electric sander
  • Vacuum or broom
  • Drop cloth
  • Disposable paper plates
  • Wood glue
  • Craft sticks
  • Painter’s tape

Prepare the wood hole for filling

Preparing your wood surface before repairs and renovations is essential in achieving a flawless finish. So here go the simple steps to get the job done.

Step 1: Remove rotten wood parts

Gently scrape off the rotten and damaged parts of the wood using any sharp tool at your disposal. Remove every damaged fiber to ensure no further deterioration continues after repair and treatment.

Step 2: Degrease and clean the surface

Clean the surface with mild soap and warm water to eliminate dirt. However, if the surface is old or very dirty, you should use special wood cleaners with a scrub brush.

Scrub the dirty surface to loosen the dirt and grime build-up. Also, rinse the wood surface and under to eliminate the dirt and product residue.

Step 3: Ensure the wooden surface is completely dry

Dry the wood under the sun or indoors in an airy room. Use a moisture meter if necessary to ensure the wood’s moisture level is below 20 %. That’s because dry wood guarantees the filler material will adhere securely and minimize the extent of product shrinkage or cracking.

How to Fill Holes in Wood in 9 Ingenious Methods

Use any of these methods based on what’s better suited for your specific repair job.

Method 1: How to Fill Holes in Wood using Adhesive Mixture and Wood chips

This method is a reliable alternative to putties when doing local repairs. However, it’s unsuitable when leveling large surfaces and repairing larger holes in wood.

Step 1: Mix carpentry adhesive and small wood chips on a disposable plate. 

Step 2: Apply the mixture into the hole and then wait for it to dry and cure.

Step 3: Sand the surface to smooth out any roughness. 

Step 4: Clean up the dust and apply a finish to match the rest of the sound wood.

Method 2: How to fill a Hole in Wood using Wood glue and Toothpicks

Using toothpicks and wood glue is the simplest and one of the oldest methods you can utilize when repairing holes in wood. 

Step 1: For this process, you’ll need PVA craft glue, toothpicks, a hammer, a knife, and fine-grit sandpaper. 

Step 2: Put together the required number of toothpicks that will fit into the hole tightly. Dip the toothpicks in PVA glue and insert them into the hole. 

Alternatively, you can partly fill the hole with wood glue and then stick the toothpicks into the hole until there’s no void left.

Step 3: Hammer the toothpicks into the hole to ensure the fill is compact. Let the glue dry and cure before trimming the extra toothpick length.

Step 4: Use a hacksaw or clerical knife to cut the toothpick edges from the wood surface.

Step 5: Finally, use fine-grit sandpaper for sanding the area until it’s even with the rest of the wood. Clean up the dust and finish the wooden surface.

Method 3: How to Cover Holes in Wood using Sawdust and wood Glue

Here’s another reliable wood filling method using sawdust and wood glue. While making this DIY wood filler, always use sawdust from a wooden scrap. This product is practical for filling small and medium-sized holes

Step 1: Start by mixing sawdust with wood glue. Put enough sawdust on the plate based on the hole size you intend to fill. Then, gradually add the glue while mixing the two materials as you mix until you get the desired consistency – a soft paste. 

Step 2: Apply the filler into the hole. Use a craft stick to scoop and push the mixture into the hole. Slightly overfill the hole to counter potential shrinkage when the filler dries.

Step 3: Allow sufficient drying time for the filled spot to harden and cure. This drying time depends on the amount of product used and the weather in your region.

Step 4: Sand the surface evenly using a sanding block; it’s easier to target high spots without creating a nasty divot. Sand with the grain and wipe off the dust with a tack cloth. Carefully dispose of the remaining mixture.

Method 4: How to Patch a Hole in Wood using wooden plugs or wood dowel

Wooden plugs are small circular pieces of wood. They’re often used to join end-boards but can also fill holes. You can purchase them from hardware shops or cut your desired sizes.

This method works great when filling small or deep holes in wooden furniture. 

Step 1: Choose a wooden plug that matches the diameter and depth of the hole you want to patch. 

Step 2: Apply wood glue to the wood plug and on the sides of the hole.

Step 3: Adjust thewood plug into the hole and hammer it down to the bottom. Make sure it fits tightly. 

Step 4: Let the wood glue dry completely. Then use a hacksaw to cut the extra wood off the plugs.

Step 5: Finish by sanding the plugging area to give it a flawless look.

Method 5: How to Fix a Hole in Wood with Epoxy Resin or two-part epoxy

You can easily repair holes in wood with Epoxy resin. This product is often referred to as two-part epoxy because it contains the resin and hardener. An epoxy fill provides a moisture-proof fill that’s incredibly strong and durable.

Step 1: Ensure the wood is clean and dry in readiness for filling. Next, ventilate the workspace, and you’re your protective gear. Also, line the floor with a tarp to catch any spills.

If the hole in the wood goes through the other side, then you should seal the underside with painter’s tape.

Step 2: Prepare the two-part epoxy. Mix equal parts of epoxy resin with the hardener in a plastic container. Stir the products to mix well using a stirring stick.

If you’d like to tint the resin, do so during this stage.

Step 3: Carefully pour the epoxy product into the hole. You can fill the hole in one pour or several pours. Let the epoxy penetrate for a few minutes, and then refill the hole until the product slightly overflows. 

Step 4: Remove bubbles by poking them with a needle. Let the product dry and cure: it takes about 24 hours but allow more time if neededand let the filler dry.

Step 5: Sand down the excess product and clean up the dust.

What is the best deep pour epoxy? Read more here.

Method 6: How to fill big Holes in Wood with wood paste

The wood paste is a ready-to-use, water-based product suitable for patching gaps on indoor wooden surfaces. You just need to buy one that matches the shade of the affected wood. 

Step 1: Ensure the wood surface is ready for repairs. Also, have the wood paste, rubber gloves, and a putty knife.

Step 2: Scoop the paste using a putty knife and apply it to the hole. If the hole is deep, wear rubber gloves and then push the paste down the hole with your finger. This helps to build a compact fill.

Step 3: Once the hole is packed with paste, let it dry for about 8 hours. 

Step 4: Sand down the excess product and clean up the surface. Finish with a top coat of your choice.

Method 7: How to Fill a Wood Hole with Wood Mastic

Choose a shade closest to the wood you’ll be filling when using this product. Here’s a 5 step process of prepping and patching a hole using wood mastic.

Step 1: Mix one part of water with three parts of mastic powder to make a paste. If the manufacturer’s instructions advise otherwise, stick with that.

Step 2: Fill the gaps with mastic paste. Spread the paste and smoothen it on the wood’s surface.

Step 3: To guarantee a stronger fill, drive some nails into the hole and then add more mastic paste to conceal the nail heads.

Step 4: Let the mastic filler dry before handling the filled wood.

Step 5: Sand down the excess material using 180-grit sandpaper. Sand with the grain until the surface is smooth and flush with the rest of the wood.

Method 8: How to use wood filler on large holes.

First, clean and sand the affected wood surface. Next, apply the wood filler to the hole in the wood and let the filler dry completely. Next, sand down the filled area flush with the surrounding wood. Finally, finish the refurbished wood with wood stain, paint, or varnish.

That’s the snippet answer to give you an idea of the process. But keep reading below to find out the detailed process.

Step 1: First, ensure the wood is clean and completely dried. Next, begin sanding using 120-grit sandpaper to knock down any unevenness. Next, brush off the dust using a broom and then wipe further using a tack cloth.

Step 2: Buy wood filler in the shade that matches the damaged wood. If you choose powdered wood filler, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to mix it into a paste.

Scoop the filler using your filling knife and then apply it to the large hole in the wood. Next, press the paste into the cracks to build a solid fill.

Step 3: Let the filler dry completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Step 4: Begin sanding the filled spot with 120-grit sandpaper and clean up the dust. Finish sanding with 180-grit sandpaper and then tack the dust off the surface.

Method 9: How to Patch wood holes with Baking Soda & CA glue

The last on our list is an easy method that can help you repair defects on wood using two products; baking soda and cyanoacrylate (CA) glue.

Step 1: First, remove any loose wood fibers using a chisel or a putty knife. Next, stuff the hole with dry baking soda until it’s ‘full’. Next, drip the glue on the baking soda.

Step 2: You will notice that the fill will shrink a bit; add more baking soda and glue until the filler is even with the rest of the wood.

Step 3: CA glue dries fast. But ensure the fill is completely dry before you level it down.

Step 4:  Finally, sand the fill with 180-grit sandpaper to match the surrounding area. Wipe off the dust and apply a thin layer of the finish coat.

Types of commercial wood fillers

Wood fillers are products that can repair surfaces indoors and outdoors. They are available in water-based and solvent-based formulations.

Generally, all wood fillers do the same job, but each type has its unique strength. 

Two-part Epoxy wood filler

Epoxy is a solvent-based filler suitable for both outdoor and indoor use. It’s a water and weather-proof filler that dries fast. It’s also the best option when repairing wood in harsh conditions as it doesn’t crack. 

Vinyl wood filler

Vinyl wood filler is another solvent-based product most suitable for filling small holes. It’s water and weather-proof and therefore durable when used outdoors. However, it doesn’t stain, but you can paint easily. And can you use permanent vinyl on wood? Explore this question in our article for valuable insights.

Cellulose-based wood filler

This filler material is water-based and is considered the best option when repairing outdoor flooring and furniture. It has a low odor, dries fast, and doesn’t shrink when it dries.

Gypsum wood fillers

These fillers are made of water and mineral powders that offer superior bonding capability. They are perfect for indoor repairs, especially when working on baseboards and drywall. It’s also paintable.

Latex wood filler

This material is ideal for filling small holes in wood furniture and trims. It works both on interior and exterior surfaces. Unfortunately, this filler does more to conceal voids than restore the structural integrity of the damaged areas.

Related Post: Repairing Wood Cracks to Prevent Further Damage

How to re-drill wood after filling holes

When you fill screw holes but need to re-drill, you need to be smart about the process without creating a bigger hole that requires filling.

Here are a few tips on how you can screw into wood filler without damaging the surface.

  1. Use a hand or power drill bit to create a pilot hole that allows the screws to insert easily without damaging the surface.
  2. Put a toothpick in the screw or nail hole, then fill it with wood filler. The toothpick will reinforce the strength of the fill and reduce its susceptibility to cracking when you re-drill.
  3. When using the plugs or dowels method, make bigger holes that are easy to cover and smoothen.

Are there other ways to make holes without drilling? Yes, check our article on how to make hole in wood without drill to learn more.

Tips on how to fill holes in wood.

  • Always ensure the wood you want to patch is lying on a flat surface. This will ensure that the filler material sits evenly on the intended hole without spilling on the surrounding area.
  • Where possible, carry out the filling repairs in a climate-controlled environment. That’s because extreme temperatures affect the drying time and quality of the filler material.
  • Allow sufficient time for the filler material to dry completely. For example, a large hole takes lots of materials and consequently requires a longer time to dry.
  • While it’s always possible to repair rotted wood, sometimes you also have to be willing to replace the damaged board with a fresh one. Assess the degree of damage and decide what’s best for your project.
  • Always ensure you thoroughly prep the affected wood and the work surface. For convenience’s sake, always assemble the supplies you will need beforehand. 


How to fill large holes in rotted wood?

  1. Scrape off the rotted wood and clean the surface.
  2. Let the wood dry completely.
  3. Mix the equal parts of epoxy resin with the hardener. 
  4. Pour the epoxy into the hole to fill it.
  5. Remove air bubbles and let epoxy dry and cure for 24 hours.
  6. Once dry, sand the excess product and then apply a finish coat.

What can I use to fill holes in wood?

  1. Adhesive mixture and wood chips.
  2. Toothpicks and PVA glue.
  3. Sawdust and wood glue.
  4. Wood plugs.
  5. Two-part epoxy products.
  6. Wood paste.
  7. Wood Mastic.
  8. Wood filler.
  9. Baking soda and CA glue.

How do you fill a 1-inch hole in wood?

A ball of vinyl spackling compound or epoxy would be perfect for filling an inch-sized wood void. Wiggle the epoxy or push the vinyl compound using a putty knife into the hole and let it sit and dry. Finish by smooth sanding the filled spot.

What is the best material to fill holes in wood?

Goodfella wood and grain filler is the best material for filling holes in wood. This water-based filler has an unlimited shelf life and comes in multiple wood tones. It’s a quick drying product that forms a compact seal on the patched hole. In addition, it’s easy to sand, stain, or paint. For further insights, don’t miss our article addressing the question, “Is wood filler suitable for staining?”

What kind of putty do I need to fix a hole in wood?

You can use water-based or oil-based wood putty to fix holes in wood. Water-based putty is ideal for fixing holes on interior wood surfaces. On the other hand, you can use oil-based putty both indoors and outdoors.

Can you use wood glue to fill holes?

You can use wood glue to fill holes in wood alongside other materials. For example, you can mix wood glue with sawdust to create your homemade wood filler. Push the filler into the hole in the wood and let it dry completely. Then, sand it flush with surrounding wood and apply a finish.

Read also: Can spackle be used on wood?


We hope we’ve covered all you hoped to find about how to fill a hole in wood. Each of the methods elaborated above indicates their suitability for filling a specific-sized hole.

While it’s virtually possible to use all these materials on whichever hole size, the strength of the fill will not be the same.

The key takeaway is to always clean and dry the wood you want to patch before you start filling it. This ensures that whichever product you apply adheres well and restores the structural and aesthetic appeal of the surface.

Now find out the best tool to make holes in wood in our other article.

Happy woodworking!

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