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Question: What, in your opinion, is the best wood filler to use? My biggest problem is that with the wood filler I use, Famowood, I will match the color as closely to the wood as possible, but when the filler dries and/or is finished it is much lighter in color. Especially in a wood that darkens over time like cherry. Is there any way to further darken the filler, say possibly with a solvent-based stain? Or do you have any other products that may work better?

Answer: No wood filler that we know of works painlessly, especially in the kind of circumstance you mentioned, where the filled wood itself changes color over time. Famowood water-based fillers are simple to use because they dry fast and sand easily. Colors can be intermixed to create custom shades, and can be further modified with universal tinting colorants (UTCs). However, looking at some of it in the pine shelving in one of our offices - filler which matched the freshly milled pine perfectly when first applied, now looks almost stark white against the caramel color of the aged wood.

Any filler can be colored one way or another, even solvent-based fillers which set up hard and non-absorbant. A dye such as Solar-Lux can penetrate and color such fillers, but the problem is that it will penetrate and color the wood around the filler even more easily. If you're trying to repair a color mis-match, you want to use non-penetrating color to make pale filler match darkened wood.
As carefully as possible, remove any surface film finish from the filler alone. Apply a glaze or a gel stain such as Bartley to the filler, being meticulous about avoiding the surrounding wood. Then refinish the area and rub out smooth.

On new work, you have three options. First, use flawless wood, invisible joinery, and no filler. Second, color your filler to match what the wood is expected to look like a couple of years from now. Of course this means the filler will look too dark at first, and that may be more than you want to ask your clients to accept. The third method is to allow your final coat of finish to completely dry and then fill nail holes and defects with colored wax. Our SoftWax Kit has 20 blendable colors, or choose Briwax Touch Up Sticks which give you five color choices. Use a slightly darker wax than the surrounding surface as your eye won't pick it up as easily as with a lighter patch.

 

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