How to Fill a Hole in Wood and Re-drill

“Throw it out or donate it and we’ll go shopping and get a new one” is usually what my wife says when a piece of wooden furniture starts to crack. Ever wanting to be right (and always being cheap), I defy her highness and ready for battle to fill the hole in the wood and prepare for re-drilling. When complete, our furniture will be as good as new and I will have saved myself hundreds. Wood furniture, wood flooring, and other wood-made items at home are usually susceptible to cracks and holes. This kind of damage can be repaired by wood filler. Wood filler is applied to the damaged area, left to dry and then sanded to make it level to the surface. So off I go to the hardware store to show my frugality as I don’t want to have to go buy that new “whatever she so desperately needs” from Pottery Barn.

There is a variety of wood fillers to choose from. They roughly do the same job, only with slight variations in the preparation time and the results.


Vinyl wood filler is the option when you want quick and efficient results. It’s required in small quantities and dries very quickly.


Gypsum wood filler is usually used on surfaces that are to be painted later.


Generally, the best option when using for outdoor furniture and flooring. It is easy to use, affordable, and long-lasting.


Epoxy is good for outdoor use because it dries quickly and is unaffected by moisture. And what’s even better is that when completely dry it can easily be nailed, or drilled without any cracks or damage; making it the best option when the wood is exposed to harsh conditions.

Currently, our focus is on the type of wood fillers that can easily be re-drilled. For this purpose Epoxy Wood Filler is an all-time winner due to its weather resistant properties. But there are other new products in the market that are not exactly Epoxy, but can still be re-drilled.

5 Best Products for Filling a Hole in Wood and Re-drilling

Shopping for wood fillers is not always as exciting as buying other building tools from a hardware shop. But at times when you really need it, you have to look for it. Since all the wood fillers you see in the shops look the same. The only way to pick out the best is through the trial and error method. You can only decide which wood filler is best for you, is if you buy wood fillers of each brand and test them. But we all know this is not possible. You wouldn’t waste all your money just to see which wood filler suits you, right?

We’ve been kind enough (or maybe just pretty bored) to do all the hassle for you and actually bought all of the best-selling wood fillers in the market (and still cheaper than the new piece of furniture my wife wanted). We tested them for different scenarios especially for re-drilling and compiled the results.

Here are the top 5 Wood Fillers along with their pros and cons, that you should consider:

FamoWood 40022126 Interior & Exterior Wood Filler

Can be planed, drilled without damage Hard to paint or stain over
Dries in 15 minutes
Has low odor

Abatron WoodEpox Epoxy Wood Replacement Compound

Dries in less than an hourNot cheap
Easy to sculpt and moldHard to paint or stain over
Resistant to direct sunlight

J-B Weld 8257 KwikWood Wood Repair Epoxy Putty

Dries within an hourNot much rot resistance
Doesn’t shrinkHard to paint or stain
Easy to use

3M Bondo Home Solutions Wood Filler

Easy to saw and drillNot easy to use
Large container compared
to competitors
Not as thick as other fillers;
requires more filler for a small task

Minwax 42853000 Stainable Wood Filler

Indoor / Outdoor UseDries too quickly
Easily stainable
Easy to sand


Filling a hole in wood can be done by various methods based on the condition of the wood. Some of the methods are listed below:

Wood Filler:

The best and most commonly known method of wood hole filling is with Wood Filler.


  1. Flake off any hanging paint chips with a scraper.
  2. Sand the area with sandpaper to smooth the edges.
  3. Use a damp tack cloth to remove any debris or sawdust on the surface.
  4. Fill the hole with the filler.
  5. Overfilling is essential because the filler shrinks when it dries; overfilling fills the space left due to shrinkage.
  6. Spread the wood filler on the hole. Make sure to fill the hole completely. Use a putty knife to spread and press the filler inside the hole. Try to make it as smooth as possible (not necessarily perfect).
  7. Wait for the filler to dry up. Time to dry can differ from half an hour to 8 hours, depending on the product you are using.
  8. After the filler has dried up, use standard sandpaper to sand down the area. Sand until the filler is leveled with the surface.
  9. Feel the surface where the filler is applied with your hand to see if the surface is smooth. If the hole hasn’t completely filled, add more filler and repeat the process.

If you plan on painting or staining the repaired area then continue the following steps:

  1. Apply primer on the area to be painted. Most fillers leave a different shade than the surrounding wood. Using primer can help even out the look.
  2. Finally, paint or stain the area according to your needs.

Sawdust and Glue:

Mixing sawdust and wood glue is not the best but still the cheapest and quickest way to filling holes in wood. This is basically just making your own homemade wood filler. It is useful when you want a custom filler that matches your project because commercial wood fillers sometimes don’t match your wood’s stain. Or when you run out of commercial wood filler and don’t want to go to the hardware shop, you can make your own to finish the work.


  1. Make sure to use gloves and a particle mask because making your own wood filler is a messy process.
  2. Unless you already have collected any sawdust before, you can also make your own with sandpaper or an electric sander. Make sure the sawdust matches the color of the wood you are filling.
  3. Use a collection bag for collecting sawdust.
  4. After collection, gather some at the surface and scan for any large particles that may be mixed in. Remove these large particles and other impurities if you find any.
  5. Now put the clean sawdust in a mixing surface, and slowly add wood glue while constantly mixing it with a mixing stick. Constantly check the mixture to see if it has turned into a thick putty. Adding excess glue can make the mixture runny, which you should definitely avoid. Also, try to manage this in a short time because you know the putty can harden after some time.
  6.  Make sure that the mixture has become a workable dough that you can easily roll between your fingers. If you see that the mixture is hardening, make another batch of the mixture and add in the previous batch.
  7. When applying the mixture, first push it in the damaged areas by hand.
  8. Use a putty knife to straighten out the mixture and remove the excess of it.
  9. Leave the surface to dry off completely.
  10. After the application, quickly wash the surface of the knife with warm water, otherwise, the glue is very hard to remove.
  11. Dispose of the remaining mixture, as it can’t be kept for later use.
  12. Once the area has completely dried off, sand it lightly with sandpaper. Don’t over-sand.
  13. Finally, clean the area with a tack cloth. Then paint or stain it, as desired.

Wood Plugs:

Wood plugs are small cylindrical pieces of wood, that you can easily buy from a shop or even make your own if you have the right tools. In this method, what we do is just plug the hole with a wood plug. This method is recommended for large straight (not stripped or rough) holes. Dowels come in different cuts: straight cuts, angled cuts, etc.


  1. Select a wood plug with a cut that best fits the wood hole.
  2. After selecting, brush the sides of the hole with wood glue.
  3. Place the wood plug inside the hole.
  4. Hammer or push the plug inside the hole, until you feel a great tight fit.
  5. After the glue dries, trim the extra wood off the plugs with a flush trim saw.
  6. Finally, sand the area to give a smooth look.

Tips re-drilling:

Although the mentioned products are some of the best wood fillers in terms of damage resistance to re-drilling, they are still however only cosmetic. If you want to re-drill a hole in the filled area, these are some tips to avoid cracking and still screw in the filled area:

  • Before filling, add some pieces of wood, usually toothpicks and matchsticks work really well. Then add the wood filler. This method adds strength to the filling.
  • If you are looking to fix a stripped screw hole, drill a larger hole on the damaged area. This way the hole becomes much more uniform and can easily be filled. Then fit a wooden dowel or a plug that can easily fit into the drilled area. Strengthen the effect with some addition of wood filler.
  • The next time you are drilling on a filled hole, make sure to use a screw wider in diameter than the previous one you stripped out.

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