How to Make Wood Filler With Sawdust (DIY Guide)

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Are you weary of constantly reaching for store-bought wood fillers? Well, you’re in for a treat! Crafting your own wood filler is not only a breeze but also a wallet-friendly alternative to those commercial options.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through the simple steps to create your very own wood filler using sawdust. Say goodbye to store-bought solutions and hello to a more economical and DIY-savvy approach!

Why Make Your Wood Filler From Sawdust?

Sawdust is great if you want to make wood filler because it’s cheap and readily available. It can fill small gaps and cracks in wood and larger holes. 

Also, sawdust can be mixed with other materials, such as glue or acrylic paint, to create a paste that can be applied to the surface of the wood. 

sawdust

By collecting the sawdust from the workpiece that the wood filler will be used on, you will be able to precisely match the color of the workpiece, which will help the area that contains the wood filler to be as unnoticeable as possible.

Making Homemade Wood Fillers From Sawdust: A Detailed Guide

Tools & Materials

Step #1: Get Sawdust from Sanding Your Sample Wood

To make your own wood filler from sawdust, sample your wood first. You can do this by sanding it down with a low grit sandpaper and then rubbing the dust off with a rag or cloth. Then, you place the sanded dust into an airtight plastic container for storage.

collected sawdust

Step #2: Mix Your Accumulated Sawdust With a Binding Agent

Mix the sawdust with a binding agent to formulate your own wood filler. This will allow you to use the same dust to fill small holes and gaps in your furniture, cabinets, and more. The following are some of the best binding agents that you can use: 

Shellac

Shellac is a fascinating substance derived from secretions of insects living on trees. This natural wonder finds its way into many aspects of woodworking, particularly as a protective finish for furniture and various wooden items. 

But here’s where it gets even more intriguing: it doubles as a fantastic binding agent when you’re crafting your own DIY wood filler using sawdust

Epoxy Glue/Wood Glue

While epoxy glue or wood glue is not precisely made from sawdust, it contains binders that can be used to make homemade wood fillers without any problem. These glues are usually available at hardware stores or online at Amazon or eBay, among other places.

See Also: How to Fill Cracks in Wood With Epoxy 

CA Glue or Cyanoacrylate Adhesive

Cyanoacrylate adhesive, or CA glue, is another option for creating homemade wood fillers without any problem. The best thing about using this adhesive is that it dries very quickly and can be used on almost any surface without causing any damage to it.

CA Glue or Cyanoacrylate Adhesive

Step #3: Test the Wood filler Before the Actual Application

When you use sawdust to make the wood filler, it is time to test it. This will help you determine if the filler has been made well or not. If your own wood filler is good enough, apply some of it on a piece of wood and allow it to dry. Once it has dried up, take a look at it.  

If you notice any cracks or holes in the structure of the filler, then you will have to add wood glue or sawdust.

Step #4: Now, Apply the Wood Filler To the Wood and Let it Dry

Put on your gloves and apply your own wood filler to the wood. You can use a putty knife or a paintbrush to spread it evenly. You can also use a foam roller for larger areas of wood. Once you have applied the wood filler, you must wait for it to dry. 

patching wood cracks

Let it sit overnight to harden correctly if working with a large area. Once dried, sand it with fine-grade sandpaper and wipe it off with a damp cloth.

(Did you know that you can dry wood in an oven? Here’s how!)

Step #5: Start Sanding the Wood

It is best to have a nice-looking wood filler when you’re done. The best thing about this filler is that it can be sanded down and smoothed out, so if you have any imperfections in your wood, they’ll get fixed up with this. 

You can use a sander and primer to ensure the surface is smooth and ready for paint, or you can use a regular brush and some paint on top of your filler to make it look nice.

Step #6: Finish Your Wood Project

To amplify the attractiveness and resilience of your wooden project, it is imperative to employ a high-quality finishing product. Numerous options, such as varnishes and paints, are readily accessible. 

Now is the ideal moment to finalize your wood project by applying an exquisite stain or paint, adding the finishing touches that will elevate its visual appeal. 

Moreover, by opting for a superior finishing product, you will not only enhance the project’s aesthetics but also fortify its durability, ensuring it to withstand the test of time.

Pros and Cons of Using Shellac as a Binding Agent

Shellac [1] makes the natural wood grain look better and is easy to use. One disadvantage of shellac is that it only lasts for a short time and is easy to break. This finish won’t hold up to heat. As a safety measure, please don’t put anything hot on it.

Zinsser shellac

Pros and Cons of Using Epoxy as a Binding Agent

Epoxies resist corrosion and water and heat less than other polymeric matrices. Epoxy resins’ main drawbacks are that they are expensive, take a long time to harden, and are hard to work with.

Pros and Cons of Using CA Glue or Super Glue as a Binding Agent

These wood glue options harden quickly at room temperature and have excellent shear and tensile strength. However, there needs to be more gap curing in most wood glues. The peel strength is low and is not resistant to solvents or high temperatures.

Making Your Wood Filler in 4 Methods

Method #1: Sawdust & White Glue

Tools

Steps

sawdust and white glue

1. To make wood filler with sawdust and white glue, you must first sand a piece of sample wood that will match the material used for the project. Sawdust can be collected more efficiently using a sander with a collecting bag.  

2. Sawdust that has been cleaned should be gathered into a small mound or placed in a paper cup. Add some white wood glue to the mixture, stir it with a craft stick, and continue doing so while adding more wood glue until the combination has cookie dough consistency. 

3. Put some wood filler and use a putty knife to smooth out the wood filler quickly and scrape away any surplus after working rapidly. Please wait until the filler is dry before using it.

4. Using sandpaper with a very fine grain, lightly sand the filled area. Filling the region to a smooth finish won’t need any effort, just go over the area lightly. Sanding too much will gouge the patch, so avoid doing that.

5. To touch up, use a wax stick. These wax sticks resemble crayons and come in various colors. Use it to make a few light strokes over the touch-up and use additional colors as required.

Method #2: Sawdust & Flaxseed Oil

Tools

sawdust and flax seed oil

Steps

1. Thoroughly combine the plaster and oil in a mixing bowl. Mix the sawdust and flaxseed oil thoroughly to ensure that the sawdust is evenly coated and saturated with the oil. 

This allows the mixture to form a cohesive and paste-like solid consistency that effectively fills gaps and cracks in the wood surface.

2. When the mixture reaches the appropriate thickness, add the sawdust and stir the mixture with a spatula. Add sawdust if the wood filler mixture contains too much liquid. Also add flaxseed oil if it is thick.

3. Using a joint or a spatula, fill the crack in the wood you wish to repair with wood filler, and then remove any extra stuffing.

4. Once the surface has dried, sand it down until smooth. Sanding the dried filler will help level out any bumps or inconsistencies in the surface, creating a smooth and even finish.

Method #3: Sawdust & Lacquer Sealer

Tools

Steps

applying DIY wood filler

1. In a well-ventilated area, thoroughly combine the paint thinner and the sealer lacquer equally. Thoroughly mix the paint thinner and sealer lacquer equally when using them together because doing so will help ensure that the mixture is consistent and uniform.

2. Start by adding a tiny bit of the wood dust at a time until you get a mass that is consistent and thick. Adding too much wood dust at once can result in a mixture that is too thick or dry, making it easier to apply or shape.

3. Apply with a spatula made of either metal or wood. As with the previous approaches, you must wait for it to dry before removing the excess wood filler with sandpaper. Sanding the wood filler also helps remove any excess filler that may have been applied during the filling process. 

Method #4: Sawdust & Carpenter’s Glue

Tools

Steps

sawdust and glue

1. Create a dense and consistent paste by combining the sawdust and the carpenter’s wood glue in a mixing bowl. When mixed thoroughly, the mixture will be uniform and evenly distributed when mixed thoroughly with sawdust and wood glue.

2. Drop some lemon juice into the mixture. It is perfectly normal for the combination to look cloudy when you first look at it. Putting a few drops of lemon juice in a mix of sawdust and carpenter’s glue can help prevent the mixture from drying out too quickly and becoming brittle.

3. After letting it dry, sand it. Now, sand the wood filler after it has dried entirely to help you achieve a smooth and even surface that is ready for painting, staining, or finishing.

Wood Fillers for Special Wood Types

Wood filler can be divided into two categories: those based on water and those based on petroleum. 

Sawdust and wood dust are suspended in water in the water-filled wood filler, whereas petroleum-based ones contain sawdust and wood dust suspended in petroleum-based compounds. 

drying DIY wood filler

Water-based fillers are typically made with cellulose, wood fibers, or gypsum mixed with a binder such as latex or vinyl. 

These fillers are easy to work with, have a low odor, and can be cleaned with water. They are also more environmentally friendly than petroleum-based wood filler.

On the other hand, petroleum-based wood filler is made with solvents such as acetone, toluene, or mineral spirits, mixed with a binder such as epoxy or polyester. 

These fillers are generally stronger and more durable than water-based fillers, making them suitable for more extensive repairs. You can also go with commercial wood filler for fast transactions.

Extra Tips When Making Homemade Wood Fillers

Glue to Sawdust Ratio

Here’s an expert tip to keep in mind when crafting your very own wood filler from sawdust and glue: take it slow with the glue. Instead of dumping all the glue in one go, add it bit by bit to the sawdust. 

This careful approach ensures you reach the perfect consistency, preventing your mix from turning into a watery mess.

sawdust and carpenter's glue

Fineness of Sawdust

When you’re crafting your homemade wood filler, here’s a pro tip: opt for fine sawdust, not the coarse kind. This small but essential detail can make a big difference in the quality of your DIY filler.

Fine sawdust and wood dust work better for making homemade wood filler because it creates a smoother, more consistent mixture that is easier to work with and less likely to shrink or crack.

Sawdust Color

When making homemade wood filler, consider the color of the sawdust when selecting the type of wood to use. 

The color of the sawdust and wood dust can affect the color of the wood filler, and using the wrong kind of wood can result in a noticeable color difference between the excess filler and the surrounding wood.

Drawbacks of Sawdust Wood Fillers

Shrinkage

One of the significant drawbacks of sawdust wood filler is that it’s prone to shrinkage as it dries. 

This is because sawdust wood filler is made from a mixture of sawdust and a binding agent such as glue, and as the mixture of wood filler dries, it can shrink and pull away from the surrounding wood.

sawdust in plastic bag

If you want to avoid significant shrinkage in larger areas and surfaces, I recommend opting for your standard store-bought wood filler for peace of mind. DIY wood fillers can work well in small and inconspicuous areas.

Staining Sawdust Filler

Another potential drawback of wood filler with sawdust is that it can be difficult to stain or finish evenly. 

Compared to a commercial wood filler, sawdust in the excess filler can absorb the wood stain differently than the surrounding wood, resulting in an uneven or blotchy appearance. This is especially true when the wood stains’ color changes over time with the wood.

Finishing Over Sawdust Filler

When you make wood filler with sawdust, it can be challenging to finish over, mainly if the filler is applied in a thick layer or needs to be sanded down properly. This is because the surface of the filler can be rough or porous, which can affect how the finish adheres to the wood.

FAQ

How do you fill gaps in wood with sawdust?

To fill gaps in wood with sawdust, mix the wood dust with wood glue to create a thick and sticky consistency. After that, fill gaps in the wood. Let it dry completely, sand the surface, and finish the wood if desired. 

Conclusion

Crafting your own wood filler using sawdust and wood dust is both straightforward and budget-friendly. While store-bought fillers are an option, they yield distinct results. Opting for a DIY approach allows you to achieve a more natural look, although it may require some practice to perfect.

Now armed with the knowledge of fashioning wood filler from sawdust, you have the opportunity to create a cost-effective filler using materials readily available in your workshop. This empowers you to elevate the visual appeal of your woodworking projects without the need for additional expenditure.

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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