This DIY Wood Filler Will Perfectly Complement Your Project

Are you wasting your hard earned money on store-bought wood fillers that don’t match your project? Today, I’m sharing a DIY wood filler recipe that’s easy to make, easy to sand and will save you money. If that’s not enough to convince you to make your own wood filler, this recipe only requires two ingredients. The most important ingredient is sawdust from your project. So you know what that means… it WILL complement your furniture project!

This easy to make DIY wood filler is perfect for filling nail holes, cracks or gaps in wood.

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Filling holes or cracks in wood can be a tricky proposition especially if you plan to stain your furniture project. Sure you can buy a wood filler, but have you ever used that stuff on your stained furniture projects? I have and I’m never happy with the results.

Store-bought wood filler doesn’t look too bad next to raw wood, but it sticks out like sore thumb when it’s stained. The wood stains dark, but the wood filler doesn’t take the stain as well and is always much lighter. Store-bought wood filler just never seems to match. It’s definitely not the attractive, professional look I want for my DIY furniture projects.


Why Make Your Own Wood Filler?

A friend of mine is into sewing and she always says the best way to match thread to fabric is to use a thread color that is darker than the fabric. She says a darker color will blend or complement the fabric while a lighter color will stick out like a sore thumb. Just like the contrast between the dark stained wood and the much lighter store bought wood filler.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could make our own wood filler that will complement our furniture project rather than stick out? We can! Not only will our DIY wood filler blend or complement our project, but it’s sooo easy to make, easy to sand, and economical!

I recently built this DIY nightstand and there were a few small gaps here and there, so I had an opportunity to whip up a batch of DIY wood filler and an opportunity to share the recipe with you!


Only Two Ingredients Needed

This DIY wood filler is made with only two ingredients. How easy is that?! First you’ll need some sawdust from the project you’re building. Collecting sawdust is easy. I collected my sawdust from the dust collection cup on my random orbit sander. I prefer to sand my furniture projects with a random orbit sander. I never use a palm sander on my projects. Skate over here to see why I don’t use a palm sander.

Related: 11 Secrets for Sanding Wood Projects Like a Pro

The second ingredient is clear shellac. This is where the saving money part comes in. Store-bought wood filler can only be used as, you guessed it, wood filler! But if you have a can of shellac you can use it not only to make your DIY wood filler, but you can also use it as a sealer or finish for your furniture projects.

Related: What You Need to Know About a Shellac Wood Finish


Where to Use

This DIY wood filler works best on small holes (like nail holes), small gaps or cracks in wood. The DIY wood filler is not ideal for rebuilding damaged wood. For instance, let’s say your dog chewed the corner off your nightstand. Nope, this DIY wood filler isn’t the best option!


Fill the Holes, Cracks or Gaps

The wood filler is easy to work with. Just simply pack it in the hole, crack or gap. Shellac is sticky, so be sure to wear disposable gloves.

This easy to make DIY wood filler is perfect for filling nail holes, cracks or gaps in wood - gap filled with DIY wood filler

Sand the Wood Filler

One important note about shellac. Shellac can resist stain or cause wood to stain slightly lighter than wood not treated with shellac. It’s important when you fill holes with your DIY wood filler that if any shellac squeezes out, be sure to sufficiently sand the surrounding wood when you sand the wood filler.

This easy to make DIY wood filler is perfect for filling nail holes, cracks or gaps in wood - wood filler sanded

Stain the Project

This stuff is amazing! I bet if I didn’t point it out, you wouldn’t be able to tell where the filler is, right? The DIY wood filler, just like the thread, stains slightly darker than the surrounding wood and it virtually disappears.

This easy to make DIY wood filler is perfect for filling nail holes, cracks or gaps in wood - wood filler stained

Have I convinced you that you NEED to make your own wood filler? It’s sooo easy to make, easy to sand, economical and best of all, will complement your furniture project. Stop wasting money on store bought wood fillers that don’t match! Make your own DIY wood filler!


DIY Wood Filler Recipe

Supplies
Sawdust
Clear shellac
Paper plate
Disposable spoon
Disposable gloves

Step 1. Pour a little sawdust onto the paper plate. I collected my sawdust from the dust collection cup on my random orbit sander.

đź’ˇ TIP: Don’t use a paper plate with a printed design like I did. The shellac pulled some of the blue color off of the plate.

This easy to make DIY wood filler is perfect for filling nail holes, cracks or gaps in wood - collect sawdust and pour on a paper plate

Step 2. Add a little clear shellac to the the sawdust.

This easy to make DIY wood filler is perfect for filling nail holes, cracks or gaps in wood. - add a little clear shellac to the saw dust

Add just a little at a time. If it’s too dry add a little more shellac. If it’s too wet add a little more sawdust.

This easy to make DIY wood filler is perfect for filling nail holes, cracks or gaps in wood - if it's too dry add a little more shellac, if it's too wet add a little more sawdust

We want the consistency of the mixture so that it will almost form a ball.

This easy to make DIY wood filler is perfect for filling nail holes, cracks or gaps in wood - the consistency of the wood filler should almost form a ball

Step 3. Pack the wood filler in the holes, cracks or gaps. Shellac is sticky, so be sure to use disposable gloves for this step.

This easy to make DIY wood filler is perfect for filling nail holes, cracks or gaps in wood - pack the wood filler in the gap

Step 4. Once the DIY wood filler is dry, sand it smooth. Shellac can resist stain, so if any shellac squeezes out while you’re filling the holes, cracks or gaps, be sure to sufficiently sand the surround wood when you sand the wood filler.

This easy to make DIY wood filler is perfect for filling nail holes, cracks or gaps in wood - sand the wood filler once it's dry

Step 5. You can apply your stain after the wood filler is sanded. For this project I used my favorite stain, Rust-Oleum Ultimate Wood Stain in Dark Walnut. Can you spot the wood filler? It virtually disappears!

Related: What I Use Instead of Wood Conditioner

This easy to make DIY wood filler is perfect for filling nail holes, cracks or gaps in wood - apply stain and watch the hole, crack or gap virtually disappear

Final Thoughts

This DIY wood filler recipe is easy to make, easy to sand and will save you money. If that’s not enough to convince you to make your own wood filler, this recipe only requires two ingredients. The most important ingredient is sawdust from your project. So that means it will complement your furniture project!

Thank you for stopping by. If you found this information helpful, would you please pin it to Pinterest? Other DIYers would appreciate it and I would too! Thank you – Scott


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14 Comments

    1. I would say shellac would be your best option. Shellac contains alcohol which helps the wood filler to dry quickly. I think the poly would remain sticky/gummy for awhile. Plus, you would have to be careful to remove all of the excess poly from the surrounding wood, because the poly would resist the stain and your stain would be splotchy.

      1. Will the shellac accept stain ok and can I use Polyu over the stain with no whiteness if I apply this method of yours? wood filler do come out above the stain and finish and ruin any wood finish or stain.

      2. Hey Carlos – You’re absolutely right. You do have to be careful with shellac because it will resist or not accept the stain. I like to use as little shellac as I can when making the wood filler just for that reason. Because the ratio of saw dust is greater than the shellac, the saw dust will accept the stain. I’m also very careful to get the filler right where I want so I avoid “squeezing” the shellac out of the wood filler onto the surrounding wood. Then I watch very closely when I sand to be sure I get any excess filler or shellac off of the surrounding wood. I’ve not had an issue with the shellac effecting the finish. Again, you want to use as little shellac as possible to make the wood filler. If you’re concerned about using this I would recommend trying it on some sample or test pieces first. Good luck and let me know how it goes.

    1. Hi Rick – I haven’t tried mixing the sawdust with stain, but it’s an interesting idea. Please let me know how it works out if you give it a try!

  1. I use the sawdust with wood glue thinned with a little bit of water , and it works perfectly for me as shellac are a bit heavy on the pocket in South Africa

  2. What an informative article! You make your instructions very easy to understand with all of the great pics. I do a lot of research online for my DIY projects. And I want to thank you for being someone I can always trust!

    1. Hi Julie – Thank you for stopping by and for the compliments! I’m glad this was helpful for you!

  3. My Dad refinished and repaired antique furniture for 50 years or so and always swore by using the woodglue and sawdust. The shellac would probably work better IMHO as it would be stickier.

    1. Hi Terry – Thank you for stopping by. I think it’s all about preference. I’ve tried making wood filler with glue, but I prefer using shellac.

  4. Hi Scott, Just A Quick Question, Can I Use Wood Filler, And Shellac As A Filler For A Project That I’m Painting. Thank You…

  5. Mix shellac, wood dust from the project you are working on, a couple of drops of wood stain that you are going to use on your project. Apply this mixture to the hole or crack and let dry completely then sand in same direction of the grain. Note; thin if needed with a few drops of alcohol or mineral spirits. Remainder can be stored in air tight container for several hours.

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