April 22, 2023

DIY Wood Filler without Sawdust: How to Make Your Own

DIY wood filler without sawdust

A wood filler combines wood fibers, such as sawdust, and a binder. The binder is either water or petroleum-based and makes the hardening process possible. A water-based filler is dry, and add water for the desired consistency.

Wood filler dries to a hard surface, and its texture allows you to apply wood filler to large cracks in a project. Sand and paint the wood filler. The wood filler will provide some structural support, although it does not replace serious repairs. Use wood filler to fill cracks and gaps on woodworking projects before sanding and finishing. Wood filler hardens within a few hours and is permanent. It conceals flaws in raw or unfinished indoor projects.

Mix a little sawdust into a wood paste using a binding agent. The paste is used to fill the void in the wood and let it dry. Once dried, sand down to a smooth finish. The binding agent can be wood, epoxy, CA, or shellac. Some alternative methods of wood filler without sawdust include making a paste from wood glue, cornstarch, and petroleum jelly. A detailed review of DIY filler is what this article is about. 

Materials Needed 

  • Wood glue
  • Cornstarch
  • Petroleum jelly
  • A measuring cup
  • A spoon for mixing
  • A mixing bowl
  • Paper towels
  • A plastic wrapper
  • A work surface
  • Gloves
  • A plastic protector
  • Plastic wrapper
  • Plastic protector

These materials will allow you to mix and apply the DIY wood filler to any gaps or imperfections in your wood project. Be sure to protect your work surface with plastic and wear gloves to avoid any potential mess or skin irritation.

Method 1: Epoxy and Colored Pigment

How to mix epoxy and colored pigment to create wood filler?

  1. Prepare equipment such as two-part liquid epoxy, disposable containers, pigments, masking tape, sandpaper, needles, and latex gloves. Buy all of the equipment mentioned in the building shop. Use disposable containers because the epoxy dries quickly and is difficult to clean. The sponge you use can also be disposable. Use gloves since dry epoxy is difficult to remove if you only use regular hand washing.
  2. Choose a high-quality epoxy filter since it can bond well on the wood surface. Quality epoxy also has more strength and is durable for a long time. Cheap epoxy has poor performance in closing holes. Low-quality epoxy peels off easily because it sticks no less firmly to the furniture’s surface.
  3. Prepare the furniture surface by cleaning the dust. That can help the epoxy adhere tightly to the furniture’s surface. Cleaning the entire surface helps the hollow area since it has dust from wood chips. Wood chips can also interfere with attaching the epoxy to the furniture’s surface (Epoxyworks.com). Use a damp cloth or a vacuum cleaner to clean the holes. If the hole penetrates to the other side, seal it using tape to prevent the epoxy from leaking into other areas. 
  4. Mix the epoxy and hardener in a 1:1 ratio using the product instructions. Stir the epoxy and hardener mixture using a disposable spoon. Stir the mixture until it is the right thickness, then put it aside. The hardener should not be more than recommended. Too much hardener increases the cracking range of the epoxy.
  5. Color the epoxy using mica powder and alcohol ink. The pigment color selected can vary according to taste. Mix the color pigments with a disposable spoon until evenly mixed. Choose a color similar to the furniture’s surface to cover the hole. The hole’s appearance will be disguised using this technique. Expect a smooth surface.

Tips for achieving the desired consistency and color

  • Pre-color the wood filler before applying it to achieve the right color shade. This can be done by adding a small amount of wood stain or dye to the filler mixture.
  • Mix a wet stain with the filler before applying it to achieve a consistent color. This can be especially useful if you work with open-grain wood that may absorb the stain differently.
  • Always try to mix the wood filler before applying it. This ensures that the filler is evenly mixed and that any colorants or stains are evenly distributed.
  • Wipe the sanded surface carefully with a tack cloth before applying the wood filler. This removes any dust or debris that could affect the adhesion of the filler.

Advantages and disadvantages of this method

Adding color is easy. Epoxy is tough, durable, protective, and easy to maintain. Its unique properties make it corrosion-resistant, chemical-resistant, and easy to clean. Epoxy color pigment provides excellent properties for adhesion. It delivers absolute resistance to chemicals. It has a long curing time and is difficult to break. 

Method 2: Latex Paint and Flour

How to mix latex paint and flour to create wood filler

  1. Take the measuring cup and pour the required flour to make the wood filler. The wood filler you are making determines the amount of flour you need. Pour it into a clean mixing bowl or a plastic container which can be the mixing medium. Then pour an equal part of wood glue into the measuring cup and pour it into the mixing bowl. The flour and wood glue mixing ratio should be 1:1.
  2. Mix the flour and wood glue well using a plastic spoon. Add more glue if the mixture is too rough, and make thick putty with the texture of cookie dough. 
  3. Scoop the mixture and let it sit on the surface.
  4. Knead the mixture, turning it into a dough. Knead the mixture like clay until it stops sticking to your palm or fingers. Do this continuously before the mixture gets hardens.
  5. Add two tablespoons of petroleum jelly to your dough-like mixture and mix with it well to reduce the stickiness of the mixture. Petroleum jelly makes the mixture smoother and reduces stickiness. Stretch the glue mixture, push, and pull using your fingers until it looks like a taffy.
  6. Wrap the mixture In a plastic wrapper. Press it to make the inside airtight.
  7. Leave it in a plastic bag, air seal by squeezing the air, and leave for 24 hours until it gets fully cured. After 24 hours, take the mixture from the plastic bag, unwrap, and warm it a little before using it as a wood filler.

Tips for achieving the desired consistency and color

  • Choose the right consistency for your project. Depending on the size of the gap you’re filling and the type of wood you’re working with, you may need a thicker or thinner consistency of wood filler.
  • Test the wood filler with the desired stain on scrap wood. Before applying the wood filler to your project, test it with the desired stain on scrap wood to ensure the color matches as closely as possible.
  • Be consistent. When mixing your wood filler, be consistent with the amounts of glue, sawdust, or other fillers and any colorants or stains.
  • Never increase the glue ratio upon mixing. Increasing the glue ratio can make the filler too thick and difficult to work with, affecting the drying time and strength.

Advantages and disadvantages of this method

It is stronger, mixes well with dyes, and is ideal for sealing large cracks and holes in unfinished wood. It does not shrink or crack but can be messy.

Method 3: Gel Stain and Glue 

How to mix gel stain and glue to create wood filler

  1. Gel stain is thicker than regular stain. It can fill in small gaps and imperfections. Gel stain will give your project a smooth, professional finish. Make sure the wood filler is dry before applying the gel stain. If the wood filler is still wet, it will absorb the gel stain and create a dark spot.
  2. Mix a little stain into your wood filler before applying it, matching it to the surrounding wood.
  3. Apply a thin layer of gel stain over the wood filler using a brush or rag. 
  4. Wipe off any excess gel stain, so it does not pool in the filler.
  5. Let the gel stain dry completely before applying additional coats. Apply a topcoat of varnish or polyurethane to protect the finish. Gel stain is a great way to hide wood filler and give your project a smooth, uniform look.
  6. Test your stained wood filler on scrap wood or an inconspicuous portion of your project before applying it to the main piece.

Tips for achieving the desired consistency and color

  • Clean and dry the surface you will be working on before you start.
  • Do not sand down bare wood.
  • Run the sandpaper over the finish before applying the gel stain (Salvagedinspirations.com). Wipe down all dust before applying.
  • Dry brush on sparingly the first coat and brush on the second coat heavily with a bristle or foam brush. Dry-brush the excess stain off with a clean brush.

Advantages and disadvantages of this method

Gel stains have good hiding strengths as they will mask the underlying color of a previously stained or painted wood project. Due to its thickness, it does not run as much, making it ideal for vertical surfaces. However, gel stain sometimes pools in cracks, dips, and corners. It can end up even on projects with deep crevices and corners. To avoid this, wipe away excess.

Comparison of Methods

For the most durable DIY wood filler, epoxy takes the trophy. Epoxy is tough, durable, protective, and easy to maintain. It is also corrosion-resistant, resistant to chemicals, and easy to clean. The epoxy color pigment has excellent properties for adhesion.

The latex paint follows, but the only problem is that it can be messy. If you are after looks, you might have to consider the gel stain since it leaves your surface with a glossy look. The only challenge is that sometimes it cracks, leaving you with an uneven and less durable surface. For surfaces exposed to water and moisture, you may have to go for epoxy, but when it comes to decorative furniture, gel stain is ideal.  

Conclusion 

In conclusion, there are several alternatives to sawdust when making filler without sawdust. There is no need to go through the process of making sawdust from scratch with the steps discussed above. The different methods for making wood filler without sawdust use flour, gel stain petroleum jelly, and wood glue. Experiment with different methods to find the best fit for your project. 

FAQ 

What are the benefits of making your wood filler without sawdust?

Make your wood filler affordable and closely match your surface. Other benefits include:

  • Customization: Making your own wood filler allows you to customize the color and consistency of the filler to match your surface better.
  • Control over ingredients: By making your own wood filler, you have complete control over the ingredients used, which can be important if you have specific environmental or health concerns.
  • Availability: Making your own can be more convenient if you cannot find a store-bought wood filler that matches your surface or needs a large amount.

Overall, making your wood filler without sawdust has several benefits beyond affordability and a closer match to the surface.

Can these methods be used to fill larger gaps?

Yes, but you can go up to 3/8th of an inch with wood filler. If the gap is larger than that, it may require further repairs and be more difficult to fill with wood filler alone.

How do these methods compare to store-bought wood fillers?

Diy wood filler methods are easy to sand and customizable than store-bought wood fillers.

How do you match the color of the filler to the surrounding wood?

Find a wood filler with the closest color to the wood and tint the putty with a stain of the same color as your surface.

Can DIY wood fillers without sawdust be sanded or painted over?

Yes, but make sure it is dry before you sand or paint. 

David D. Hughes

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