Wood Putty Vs Wood Filler: Which One For Your Project?

Wood filler and wood putty are two common materials used to fill small cavities in woodwork projects. They both come in a variety of colors, but they serve different purposes. Here’s what you need to know about the differences between each one so you can choose the right product for your project!

Differences between wood filler vs wood putty

Wood putty and wood filler are two different products for filling small indents and holes in woodwork. Wood putty is made from plastic chemicals and oils, and wood filler is made from wood particles with a glue-like binding agent.

Photo by Ono Kosuki from Pexels

What is wood filler?

Wood fillers are a great way to improve the look of a project, whether it is an office chair or your living room floor. Wood filler can be used for three different types of projects: those that need structurally repaired, wood surfaces that need refurbished, and when you need to fill in holes and cracks.

Wood filler works by using hardened glue and wood particles to replace or cover damaged parts of a project.

The more wood that is added, the greater the structural benefit and the stronger the repair will be. For smaller repairs, it may be used as a way to conceal damage done on a surface without necessarily strengthening it.

With this method, filler is not used to replace broken pieces, but rather to fill in gaps and prevent further damage from occurring.

With its structural strength, wood filler can also be used to add accents when covering smooth surfaces such as walls or when doing decorative effects.

What is wood putty?

Wood putty is not actual wood and never dries, so it’s good for finishes on the outer surface. Using wood putty to fill holes or scratches in wood before you paint over them to make the surface smooth is the best use case. Wood putty is also called “plastic wood.”

A high-quality wood putty can add strength and character to almost any wood surface. It works especially well on plywood, particle board, MDF (medium-density fiberboard), and other composite boards.

Our favorite wood putty

Minwax 13616000 Wood Putty, 3.75 oz, White
  • Pre-Mixed putty to match Minwax Wood Finish stains
  • Repairs minor scratches, gouges and nail holes
  • Non-hardening
  • Available in various colors
  • Fills nail holes and covers other minor imperfections in bare, painted, stained, and finished wood

When to use wood filler

Use wood filler to repair cracks in wood or when repairing larger areas of damaged wood. It can also be used to create a solid, even base for paint to adhere to, by filling the pores of the surface with thick filler and then sanding smooth. Be aware though that when using it in this way, you cannot stain over the wood filler as it will soak up the color like blotting paper! With oak furniture particularly porous woods such as pine or cedar are often used instead.

When you use wood filler and apply it too liberally, it obscures the grain of the wood, turning it into a smooth surface that looks unnatural.

Tiny pores end up filled and what should look like lovely grains ends up looking like clumpy dots! It’s best to use fillers for filling holes where you cannot sand back to get rid of them or on surfaces where you can’t afford any defects at all – such as doors or drawer fronts.

Wood filler works best indoors

Wood filler works best indoors where there are fewer temperature fluctuations. Wood filler hardens, and temperature fluctuations can cause it to expand and contract, finally cracking and breaking.

Wood expands and contracts very easily, so it’s very important to keep this in mind.

Types of wood filler

Epoxy-based wood filler

Fillers of epoxy are intended to be used on unfinished wood products. Typically, epoxy coatings need to be sanded down in order to obtain the best results. If you choose to use this kind of wood filler, be sure to apply a sealant to keep it from crumbling or becoming brittle.

Polyurethane-based wood filller

This is a form of wood filler that’s frequently utilized on furniture. Polyurethane helps to protect the outermost surface from humidity, dampness, and other environmental threats by sealing it.

Latex-based wood filler

Latex fillers are one of the most popular wood fillers. They’re used in a wide range of items since they’re water-based and easy to clean up. Epoxy is frequently used on raw wood to fill pores or cracks before they become an issue.

Our favorite wood filler

NADAMOO Wood Furniture Repair Kit Wood Filler Scratch Repair Furniture Touch Up Kit Cover Surface Scratch for Wooden Floor Table Door Cabinet Veneer, 12 Dark Color Kit Black White Gray Oak
  • This furniture repair kit contains 12 wood fillers and 1 brush.
  • 12 unique colors - White, Ivory, Wood White, Cedar, Red Oak, Red Sandalwood, Dalbergia, Black Walnut, Teak, Mahogany, Gray, Black. And you can mix color to match the colors of your hardwood furniture.
  • Easy to apply - squeeze repair filler into the repair area, and then smooth the surface with scraper. Or you can use the brush for detail toucu up.
  • Great ideal for wood scratch repair: suitable for cover surface scratch for wood veneer, desk furniture, wood floors, trim, cabinets, tables, beds, frames, doors and many more.
  • Restore all kinds of damages such as chips, cracks, dents, holes, pet marks, and scruffs. You can repairfurniture by yourself, do not need ask experience profesional to retouch your scratched furniture etc.

When to use wood putty

Wood putty is a great material for filling porosities and small holes in wood. It can be purchased from hardware stores, art supply stores (for coloring), and some bookstores.

Wood putty is also available in many different colors, so you can find something that matches the color of the wood you are trying to fill.

When coverings such as fabric or leather peel off the chairs and tables that we often find in our school’s classrooms, oftentimes small holes remain behind where the covering used to be.

How do I use wood putty?

We can treat these holes with wood putty that you can buy at hardware stores or home improvement stores, where it is sold in small tubes that look something like toothpaste.

First, clean the hole with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol or other solvent. Then, after squeezing out some putty from the tube, roll it between your fingers to make it thinner and longer.

Apply this to the inside of the hole by pressing down on it with a toothpick or another tool you might have around the house, then embedding it into the hole by pressing on it with the tip of the toothpick.

How to make DIY wood filler

It is easy to make your own wood filler if you want to create the exact color or texture of wood that you are looking for.

To make DIY wood filler, first mix the ingredients below in a bowl until they are well mixed.

1 part sawdust  (you can also use dried leaves)

3 parts white glue  (such as Elmer’s white glue)

Parts of sawdust and glue

1. Mix sawdust and white glue until they are well mixed.

2. Add water slowly to the mixture while stirring until it reaches the desired consistency (thick like putty). You can add more or less of either ingredient to get your desired consistency.

3. Let the mixture dry overnight, then you have roughly 10 minutes to use it before it no longer stays together!


How do I fill holes with wood filler?

Wood filler can be used to fill almost any hole, crack or imperfection in a wood surface.
If there is a splintered portion of the hole, this should first be cut away with a sharp knife. Then clean the area by wiping it with acetone or thinners before applying wood filler. If using wooden toothpicks, break them so they fit the depth of the hole. Apply enough filler to fill the hole and work it in with a small putty knife by using circular motions over the surface. A little bit goes a long way. Once you have finished filling, wait for around 30 minutes until dry then apply another thin layer overtop of what you’ve already applied. Wipe away excess with a damp cloth before leaving to dry for 24 hours.

Can you screw into wood filler?

Yes, once wood filler has dried you can screw into it.

How long does wood filler take to dry?

Wood filler takes anywhere from 30 minutes up to 24 hours to dry depending on temperature and humidity levels.

How long does wood putty take to dry?

Wood putty takes a few hours to dry, depending on the type of wood putty you have used. Using one that dries faster will speed up the process. If your putty is already dry but still feels sticky, use sandpaper to smooth it out and wipe away any excess dust.

Can you stain wood putty?

Wood putty comes in different stains, so you won’t actually need to stain it. Generally, wood filler can be stained, but wood putty can’t be.


Wood filler and wood putty are both great things to have in your woodworking toolkit. They can help repair cracks, fix imperfections, and have a decent drying time to get your woodworking projects back in shape in no time.