Ask the Staff
I'm restoring an antebellum home and the upstairs heartwood pine floors have never been finished.
After sanding for a week, I found numerous cracks, holes and imperfections. I want to fill all these
and I saved the sawdust. I tried glue mixed with the sawdust, but it did not do well. Any
Yes, mixing sanding dust with glue for use as a defect filler has its drawbacks. There are ready
made fillers and putties, made with wood flour and binders that will allow the dried product to be
sanded more readily than a wood dust & yellow glue mixture. In addition, the glue in the homemade
mixture makes the dried result difficult to take a stain (if you wish to stain the wood before
Do keep in mind that any ready made "filler or putty" will still have a drawback in that the
filled area has a solid color and thus can stand out against the varied shades, tones and grain
pattern of the surrounding wood. If you have some simple nail head holes, these are not very visible on
a floor. If you have a defect the size of a nickel, that filled in area (even with a sublime color
match) will still catch the eye since it looks quite different from the surrounding natural wood.
Few go to the trouble, but you can "faux" grain lines using a fine sable brush and some color
pigments. (Hey, it is just a floor and not a piano bench!)
The filler products we have will let you intermix colors to get the best match. Select the
color based on shade and not the name of the color. You could also try to mix a good color match for
the lighter colored "sapwood", and another batch for a good color match for the darker "heartwood"
as well as for shade variation for the early wood and latewood (time of year the tree was growing).
With these separate colors, you would "swirl" or layer them as best you can when filling the cracks
to mimic the grain and to avoid having such a single solid color in the defect void to draw
attention to the eye.
As far as filling cracks between boards, keep in mind that boards do move seasonally across their
width and sometimes when walked upon if they are not secured properly. This can cause a wood putty
to break away from the edges of the boards in the cracks and come loose. Depending on the depth of
the crack, sometimes you can fill in the crack with clear epoxy level to the surface of the floor.
This is not very visible with a film finish applied on the wood floor. The clear filled crack is now
smooth with the surface of the floor and will no longer trap dirt and debris. The epoxy adheres
better to the wood and will not be as prone to cracking and coming loose like wood filler.
Here are a few links to the products I mentioned that might be helpful:
20-minute Epoxy Kit
Wood Filler 8-piece sampler kit
And here is a great
Filler Color Chart
. Keep in mind the color chart is a computer screen representation
of a printed color chart of the manufacturers. It is a general guide for tone.
Visit Highland Woodworking's Finishing Supplies Department
with your woodworking questions. If yours is selected for publication,
we'll send you a free Highland Woodworking hat.