When you’re working with wood, it’s important to know how to use wood filler. Wood filler is a material that’s used to fill in the gaps in wood and make the surface smooth.
It comes in a variety of types, including putty, epoxy, and liquid latex.
Here we’ll look at what differentiates these different types of wood filler, as well as how long it takes for each type to dry—and what kind of finish they leave behind.
What is the difference between wood putty and wood filler?
There are two types of products that can be used to fill holes in wood: putty and filler. They look similar, but they have distinct purposes.
Putty is a softer material that’s used to fill smaller gaps and dents in wood. It’s also easier to sand down, so if you’re not too picky about the surface of your furniture, putty may be more suitable than filler for your DIY project!
The filler is best suited for filling larger holes and defects in wood surfaces. It’s harder than putty, so it takes longer to dry out before you can sand it down smoothly.
Table of Contents
- What is the difference between wood putty and wood filler?
- How long does it take for wood filler to dry?
- How do I get a smooth finish with wood filler?
- Can I use wood filler to fill gaps?
- How big of a gap can wood filler fill?
- Do you use wood filler before or after sanding?
- Do I need to seal wood filler?
- Does wood filler harden like wood?
How long does it take for wood filler to dry?
How long it takes for your wood filler to dry depends on the type of wood filler you are using. In general, the thicker fillers take longer to dry than their thinner counterparts, while oil-based fillers take much longer than water-based ones.
- Water-based wood fillers can dry in an hour or two, depending on how thick they have applied and the temperature of your room.
- Oil-based wood fillers will generally be ready after 24 hours (but again, this will vary depending on how thickly you applied it).
How do I get a smooth finish with wood filler?
Here’s how to get a smooth finish with wood filler:
- Use a putty knife or spatula to apply the wood filler. If you don’t have one on hand, use your finger to smooth out any lumps or ridges in the filler as you go.
- Sand the excess off of your project with sandpaper. A variety of grits will work, but start with 80-grit and then progress upward to 120-grit and 220-grit (or higher).
- If you don’t want an orange peel appearance where you’ve applied your wood filler, sand it again with 320-grit up until it’s all gone!
Can I use wood filler to fill gaps?
Yes, you can use wood filler to fill gaps. However, though it’s possible to use wood filler for this purpose, there are some caveats that you need to keep in mind.
First of all, the size of the gap and how much material is required will determine whether or not using wood filler is a reasonable solution.
If you have large gaps (more than 1/8 inch) between two pieces of wood that need filling along an edge or corner joint, then using a putty knife may be your best bet.
This will give you more control over how much material goes into the joint and where exactly it is applied.
However, if your gap is smaller than that — say less than 1/16 inch — then it may be better just to use glue instead of trying to fill every little crack with wood filler because applying too much can make things messy or even cause warping on larger pieces of furniture such as tables or cabinets (this depends on how thickly-layered).
How big of a gap can wood filler fill?
It depends. On a variety of factors, including:
- The size of the gap
- The type of wood filler
- The size of wood filler particles (the smaller the better)
- How much pressure do you apply with your putty knife or trowel. If you press too hard, it will flatten out before it’s completely dry and won’t fill any gaps. If you don’t use enough pressure, it won’t stay in place until it dries.
The best advice is to apply just enough pressure so that the wood filler fills all cracks without being flattened out by them; if there are any imperfections or visible gaps remaining when your project dries, add more layers as needed until they’re filled in completely
Do you use wood filler before or after sanding?
Whether you should apply filler before or after sanding depends on the type of project that you are working on.
If you are using coarse-grade sandpaper to rough up the surface, then it’s best to apply the wood filler first.
Otherwise, if your goal is to smooth out any imperfections in the wood with fine-grade sandpaper, applying filler first is not recommended.
If you’re working with an unfinished piece of furniture or some other project that’s already been sanded down and stained (or painted), then it’s fine to go ahead and use some wood filler before sealing everything up again. But remember: don’t use too much!
Wood filler expands when it dries, so even though one tube might seem like enough for your entire project, don’t rely on this as an exact science because there could be some small gaps between boards where more filler may need adding after drying time passes by (which can take anywhere between 24 hours to several days).
Another thing worth mentioning here is that most fillers come in tubes rather than containers like paint does; this means they won’t harden over time unless exposed directly under bright lights at room temperature all day every day for weeks at a time—so there really isn’t anything wrong with keeping them stored as long as possible without opening them up again until needed!
Do I need to seal wood filler?
Yes, you will need to seal it. You can choose from a clear sealer or a stain. For most applications and woods, I would recommend using a combination of both.
A clear coat will prevent the filler from absorbing moisture in humid conditions and help it dry faster as well as protect against UV damage over time.
A stain will color the filler slightly so you can match your existing wood color if you want to cover up any imperfections that might still show through after sanding.
Does wood filler harden like wood?
Wood filler hardens like wood. You can sand it, paint it, stain it, and varnish it. In fact, you can do pretty much anything to wood filler as you would with wood.
As with all materials used in construction and repair work—including lumber—it’s important to use the right product when you are filling a hole in your project.
Choosing the wrong material will result in problems that could have been avoided by using a better product for the job at hand.
You should now have a better understanding of what wood filler is, how it can help you and when it should be used.
If you are still not sure if wood filler is right for your project or have questions about the process involved in using it, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask us!
We would love to help guide you through this process so that your woodworking project comes out perfectly.