6 Ways to Plug or Fill Pocket Holes | How to

6 Ways to Plug or Fill Pocket Holes | How to

Hey, what’s up guys? I’m Brad from Fix This Build That. Today I’m going to show you six different ways how to plug and fill pocket holes. I’m going to give you the pros and cons of each one. I’m also going to show you what my favorite is. And I’m going to show you a jig that. I made that makes it even faster alright stay tuned, and we’ll check it out. The first one I’m going to show you is the tried and true wood filler, AKA wood putty. I’m going to go ahead and break this open and fill these holes and see how it does. The application on the wood filler is pretty straightforward. You just fill up the hole top it off a little bit over the top and then set it off and let it dry. For the next few methods I’ve actually never used these before. I sent out and Instagram message to my audience and I asked them What’s your favorite way to fill pocket holes? They said “Hey, what about sawdust and wood glue?”. So I’m going to try that, we’ll see how it goes. I took the dust catcher off from my random orbital sander, and I dumped out the sawdust that was in there. I later realize this is walnut that’s why it looks so brown. I mixed it up with glue and formed a paste then I put the paste into the holes. I really had a hard time of really getting that into the holes nicely But I did the best I could then I set it aside to dry as well. The third method to fill your pocket hole is something you might not expect. It’s Bondo, that’s right Bondo in the wood shop. I talked to the folks over on Instagram, and there are a bunch of them that say “hey, I use bondo” I’m going to try it and see what happens Mixing the Bondo is pretty straightforward I just followed the directions on the can mix it up till is a nice pink consistency. And then I filled the holes up making sure that they were over full so I could fill it back to flush. Alright I can say that the first time bondo has been in to fix this build that workshop. But I got this board all bondo’ed up, and I’m going to let it dry, and then we’ll sand it. Don’t ever let me Bondo your car. The first three methods were all about filling the next three are going to be about plugging. So number four is going to be using store bought plugs. These I’ve got here are in oak, but they’re in a lot of different varieties. I’ll put them in here and see how it works. These plugs are really easy to install you just apply the glue in there and then you put the plugs into the hole. My plugs are a little loose as you can see here. Which is interesting because a lot of folks on Instagram told me that there’s are always too tight. Regardless, I set these aside let them dry and then I came back and cut them flush with a flush trim saw. I’ll have a link down below in the description to this flush cut saw and also to an alternative that’s only about 14 bucks that you can get from the home center The fifth way to plug or fill pocket hole which is going to be using a 3/8 of an inch dowel cut at an angle. So it’s going to be just like the plug that I just used except this one I cut on a little jig. There’s a couple videos out there to show you how to do this but all you do is cut pocket holes into the piece you stick that in there. You cut it off, so it is now flush cut. Alright, so that’s I’m going to do with this one. I’m going to install this and we’ll see how it works. The installation of these 3/8 inch dowels is the same as the store-bought ones except it fits a lot tighter. So you can try to use a rasp I’ve seen that in some videos to install those it really wasn’t working for me. You can also use the Kreg mini which has a little spot that’s supposed to be used to push these in. That did not work for me either. So you can probably guess this is not my favorite method. I actually did something very similar except with a scratch awl the last time I was trying to put these in when I was building my last project. Anyway after I got them installed with the rasp to let them sit for about five minutes just to set up. Then I came back and cut them flush with a flush trim saw. But I saved my favorite for last, the sixth method to plug or fill pocket holes is just to use 3/8 inch dowel. Except straight cut just a one and a half inch straight cut piece of dowel It installs very easily I just busted my knuckles again trying to get the demo trying to push in an angle one. You will never do that with this I’ll show you why. The biggest difference between the angled cut dowel and a straight cut dowel is just ease of installation. The straight cut dowel has that flat side on it. So you can easily install it with a hammer you’ll see how I do it here and also there’s a great tight fit. So you can just wait a couple minutes and then cut that flush with a flush trim saw as well. Here’s a quick recap of the different types of plugs you get. The store-bought, the angled cut and then the straight cut dowels here. And here’s the jig to quickly make those one and a half inch straight dowels. Drill a 3/8 of an inch hole through the edge of a one by three with your pocket hole bit. Now mark a line an inch and a half from the edge and cut straight down through the hole with a flush cut saw. Now all you do is put the dowel through the holes flush with the outer edge. It only takes a few strokes to cut the bowel and as you push that dowel forward it will eject the plug you just cut. This is a lot faster than using a power tool, and you’ve got those plugs ready in a container sweet. To smooth out the test pieces I put 150 grit sandpaper on my sander. Then I just sanded all the plugs and fills till they were flush with the surface. Got everything sanded, and I’m kind of surprised by some of the results, check it out. Start up here with the wood filler. This actually came out really nice. There’s no gaps in there no voids at all. I thought this was going to need to be refilled, but it doesn’t. This one actually works really well nice and smooth. The sawdust and glue this is just a mess. It was super hard to sand and I went ahead and gave up on it. Just because this is recessed, but I did not like this one at all. The bondo is the one I was probably most surprised by. The Bondo’s is actually even a little smoother than the other wood filler. Bondo also sanded much faster than I thought it would. This turned out really nice that and I see why folks like this. This is the store-bought plugs, and I was a little surprised because these gaps show back up. You can see here there are definitely gaps in there and that’s going to need another little bit of filling if you want to have a completely smooth surface. This is the angled dowel and as you can imagine those little gaps on the top are there. And some little gaps here at the bottom and where I chipped out the wood, but these are pretty smooth around the edges. It’s really smooth. It’s just the front that I kind of flubbed up by not getting in there properly. All right, and here’s the straight cut dowels. This one the front the back seem really good. This looks a little dark because there is kind of a little bit of a gap there so this one actually is going to need a little bit of filling too. A quick recap of the Pros and the cons of each. From the filler side obviously the pro is super smooth finish other than the sawdust and glue, I wouldn’t recommend that one at all. But from a wood filler and the Bondo the finish was very nice. But you have to wait a good deal of time for that to dry before you can sand it. On the plus side the store-bought ones they installed really easy, but it’s a loose fist. You got to go back and you have to do a little bit more filling . Onto the angled plug, I would definitely not recommend that unless you wanna bust your fingers up like I did or taking an awl to the finger. The straight dowels are the ones that I like best. They are easily installed with a hammer if you have any gaps you can quickly fill it . And to move on from a price perspective the store-bought ones you can get a box of 50 for five bucks. Out of the same five bucks you can buy five dowels and get 32 a piece out of it for 160 dowels. So you can get three times as many out of a dowel as you can out of the store-bought plugs. There you go guys now you know six different ways to plug or fill pocket holes. I’m sure this is going to generate a lot of comments. Let me know down below what your favorite one was and also if I miss something that you do that I did not test here. If you’re not subscribed to the channel go ahead and hit that subscribe button. I’d love to have you along for the journey and until next time guys get out there and build something awesome.

100 thoughts on “6 Ways to Plug or Fill Pocket Holes | How to

  1. Full Blog Post with more commentary and details: http://fixthisbuildthat.com/6-ways-to-plug-fill-pocket-holes-how-to/

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  2. Good job, but I would recommend sawing away from your body. It made me cringe; seeing you bust your knuckles and then saw towards your hand.

  3. I know this is a year and a half old and this might have been said already but with the dowel method are you not creating plugs with the cut off section after its installed? Win win

  4. Bondo seems to be the winner. If you use a “cheese grater” you can knock it down real fast after only 20 minutes. More hardener = faster cure.

  5. I have old holes on cabinet doors where the handles was would it be better to use wood glue on dowel rod then use wood putty or just use wood putty by itself on botg sides?

  6. You put them in backwards. The "Store Bought Plugs" and the "Angled Plugs"… you attempted to match their angle to the OUTSIDE surface of the wood….. and then you proceeded to cut off that angle you tried so hard to align with the surface. That's not what that angle is meant for…. The angle is meant to match up with the internal shape of the pocket hole. So, if you had flipped those around putting them angled-end in first AND keeping the "straight-cut blunt end" outside, you would have been able to easily hammer them in tightly, eliminating that loose fit you experienced, and also eliminating the gaps that you had to fill after the glue dried. Try it again.

  7. I just started doing some pocket holes and used the sawdust and glue mix. Mine looks exactly like that. I mixed in a small container to minimize mess but any residue was horrible to remove by sanding. Wish I had seen this first. I'll stick with straight dowels for sure. Love that jig idea too. Thanks!

  8. I'm really getting into your podcast "Made for Profit". I finally thought I'd come check you out! Love love love your podcast!!!

  9. I’ve done the sawdust and glue. That’s a very old-school method that dates back to before wood putty was even a product.

    That said, you can achieve much better results if you perfect your method. First off, I could see right off the bat that you didn’t get a thorough mix. So I was’t surprised that you ended up with a recess. Secondly, try experimenting with different coarsenesses of sawdust. You may find that finer sawdust works better. And again, you need to get a very thorough mix when using this method.

    Finally, this isn’t a method that always yields perfect results the first time. You’re almost guaranteed to have to go over the hole again and refill. And it’s also best to leave as little mixture as possible to sand off, because as you experienced, this stuff dries really hard, and it’s a real bitch to sand. Just imagine doing that with sandpaper back before electric sanders.

    Again, it’s a very old method dating back to when there weren’t many other options. And even if you can go to a store and buy a pre-mixed product, it’s still a good method to perfect, because sometimes you just have to get a project finished, and all you have is some wood glue, and plenty of sawdust.

  10. FYI if you purchase the wood filler Bonds at A hardware store instead of the Auto Bondo the mixture comes out a off white instead of pinkish in color. And it paints easier without bleeding thru like the auto body one has a tendency to , all the other properties are abou the same as each other s far as density, shrinkage, and drying times I found the biggest difference was color I'm not actually at my. Can presently it may be called home project filler or something similar i know i bought it several times at Home Depot's paint section over the years ! The only drawback ive had with Bondo products is if the area is too large a fair amount of shrinkage can happen requiring extra apps

  11. Sherwin Williams Shrink Free Spackle. Or any Spackle. Which will always be a better choice for paint up project over wood filler. Wood filler is for stains. Also, don't use caulk between walls and mouldings. Again Spackle. And if you want, you can mix a 2 to 1 Spackle/wood filler. Should avoid shrinking still but may be a better texture for you to work with. You can add 5% water to this. Then let set a few minutes. 🙂

  12. I wish I'd found your video 2 days ago. I'm making a king size farmhouse bed (head & footboard rails and support frame. I did a lot if sanding yesterday. My store bought plugs did not fit very well. I will remember your video for my next project. That Bondo is impressive. Since I'll have to sand anyway and it looks like it is good alternative for most fillers assuming it's a painted, not stained project I'll be giving it a try.

  13. I am curious how does the bondo and wood filler accept stain. Will it stain same shade as the wood it’s used with?

  14. In my journey to find the perfect wood hole filler(nail holes and gouges in interior trim work before paint) and for that particular purpose I'm blown away by Bondo "glazing and spot filler putty" it comes in the same consistency and container of toothpaste, it's red so you know exactly where your patches are, doesn't shrink, dries very hard and can be shaved off with a razor or sanded very easily for a perfectly smooth non-porous fill.

  15. Best video on this I've watched tonight. Thank you! Does the Bondo and wood filler look the same as the rest of the wood when painted or a slightly different color? Thanks!!

  16. Start holding work behind the direction of cut before you need stitches. Having sliced thru an artery in my finger I almost stained a new carpet as the wound squirted with each beat of my heart. That was years ago and a lesson to remember every time I pick up a chisel.

  17. So just to clarify, gum isn’t a good option? Maybe that’s why I’ve been getting crappy results. Plus the chewing. Hurts my jaw after the 3rd hole

  18. I use durhams water putty when i need to fill larger voids. I think its plaster of paris based so hardens up fast. For small holes, nail holes, etc., i use spackling compound or Norms old trick of using glazing compound.

  19. My experience has been the same as your results. I have tried the sawdust and glue mix a few times and it has always been a poor solution. I have been using wood filler and straight cut dowels for a while now. To cut my dowels I just put a piece of tape on the band saw to mark the length and slice them up quick and easy.

  20. my problem have, i can buy pocket hole jig in Thailand but anywere not have wood rod, can buy and only have 4x 25mm kreg srews here no have more what can select or buy.

  21. I sometimes use pocket holes in hard wood in addition to plywood. I bought the Kreg dowel maker to use the same wood. What are your thoughts on the dowel maker?

  22. Dude, I subscribed immediately just after 1 minute of watching your video: no initial sob story, no annoying introduction, no unnecessary explanations or backstories, just straight to the point, no clickbaiting. A rare kind of channel these days! Congratulations!

  23. for sawdust and glue be careful not to use to much glue ive done this and it comes out almost black even for pine sawdust

  24. You know the Bondo is the best if mixd properly it's dry in 2 minutes and sands to a nice finish with no more issues as to ur fab u do 2 times the work

  25. The store bought plugs have been working best for me. Cutting the straight plugs after installation causes scratches which causes more sanding. To each their own.

  26. i owned a small painting business and i used bondo on hinge recesses and striker plate holes in door frames it was easy and fast and held very well.

  27. Thank you for doing this demo! I think you've gotten me switched from store bought plugs (Kreg Plugs, since use their K5 Pocket Hole System) over to using the straight dole rod/plugs! One reason is the cost then there is the (which I'd never really thought about) ability to get different species of wood for matching the plugs to the specific wood species I used!!

  28. Thanks for taking the time to make this video. I appreciate it. By the way Kreg has discontinued walnut plugs and no longer sharpens it’s drill bits. Just bought a walnut dowel, 3/8 inch , for six dollars

  29. Just wondering …could you cut the ones made from a dowel just a bit shorter therefore leaving a minimal "stub at the top and just using a orbital sander and corse grit to knock down ?

  30. The bondo is what I use to fill imperfections. I’m a pro painter and epoxy is the way to go. You just have to get used to it. Wood filler is a different animal. It’s use isn’t what most people think it’s used for. We use it, and it is intended for skim coating entire boards or trim in a house to fill many imperfections at once. We also use it on doors as well. Entire skim coating to make surfaces slick and smooth so we can apply mirror finishes. Plugs are ok but need a little filler to go with it. Good luck.

  31. Thanks for the great video. I'm getting ready to build some boot jacks and I thought maybe pocket connections would be a good way to go. What do you think? I didn't know there were so many options to fill the holes. I really appreciate the tutorial.

  32. An even quicker way is to not even bother with plugging the holes to begin with. If you’re using pocket jigs, chances are you aren’t building fine furniture. The holes are hidden anyways so………………

  33. Great video. Liked + Subbed. New woodworker here and comparing all of my options. I bought a Kreg K5 jig because that's what most online hobby project blueprints call for. What I haven't seen yet is how you'd make a plug that's nearly invisible for cosmetics. I don't think I'll be doing a lot of exterior plugs but just wondering how you'd get things like bondo to stain properly and look good. Could anyone provide any resources to how I'd make a great looking plug for exteriors that is flush, stained, and can't be seen? Thanks.

  34. Great video. I do #6 myself. I have tried one you did have 6 min epoxy and sawdust #7. On #6 I use the bandsaw, I set up a guide and I can cut many more quicker than you did. A+++

  35. I use pocket-hole joinery pretty exclusively (I don't have the capacity to do other types of joints, and I make functional furniture only, really). Only recently have I decided that I'd like to fill the holes. This was really, really helpful!

    I recently was given an oscillating multitool that I thought I might use to cut off the excess plugs, but you've made that hand saw (the flush-cut trim saw) look really easy! and the idea of how to make my own dowels is useful as well.

  36. Our general contractor handy guy who has 20+ years experience uses bondo for the toughest holes. Stinks up the house but you can’t see it after sand and paint.

  37. I live in Chile. A long way from the big stores. I use sawdust and glue. One is mix it off the
    work area and two let it dry. Could take a pair of days!!
    Great VideoThanks

  38. The best filler for persons who do the job often is to use wood dust from different timbers. I collect mahogany timber dust, white deal wood dust and oak wood dust and store them in separate jars. Whenever i need to fill holes i make a mix of two types of timber dust and by so doing i can match the colour of the furniture. Darker wood dust will become even darker when put to use as is. White deal dust is the colour correcting element in the mix. Experience will help the user to make a matching mix. I often use PVA glue. PVA glue is practical to use, but it would absorb some synthetic stain and turn little darker. Animal glue or hide glue would not absorb synthetic stain. As far as softness for easy sanding, the filler mix must be tested before use. Again experience will help here too. The components are cheap but experience is necessary. PVA glue produces a very strong filler which could be almost impossible to flatten later. It does not take a lot of glue to produce a good filler. One could finish off the filling with a soft filler mix to facilitate sanding later. It is a question of ensuring a correct glue mixture and filling in layers.

  39. I have 28 pocket holes to fill and I'm gonna get dowels. I was wondering why you couldn't just cut straight plugs from a dowel and flush cut them. Thanks for the test. Very useful.

  40. Always fill wood with wood and glue. Bondo wont bond that well to wood and will expand at a differnt rate casing it to show through painted surfaces as the materials expands and contracts.

  41. stick to wood filler. tried & true. i think because you sawed off the dowels & plugs, then sanded over them with a 150, it just removed more chip pieces of that wood. maybe sand with a lower grit paper instead.

  42. Several quick 'two cents' to add. It is worth the couple seconds to chamfer the insert end of the dowels (dowels you make yourself). I just scrape them along some 80 grit sand paper while turning them in my hand. A good chamfer takes about 5 strokes.This really helps guide the dowel into the pocket hole.

    A power tool is faster for making dowels if you need a bunch of them. I just finished a shelving unit that needed 700 pocket holes filled. I rubberbanded together bundles of 10 dowels with a rubber band every two inches and a stop block in my miter saw. I cut 700+ plugs in about 10 minutes.

    Finally, the best option is a combination option of a plug and a putty. Plugs will always give some gapping and tearout. The putty (whether Bondo or Wood Filler) will fill that gapping. I prefer Bondo, but its five minute open time can significantly constrict a large project, so I only use it on smaller projects with only a few holes.

  43. What an excellent video. Thanks.
    I don't understand why anyone would use an angled dowel, when you're going to have to cut it anyway?

  44. Call me cheap VaChina! But I use plastic pocket hole plugs from aliexpress. They come in a variety of wood shades. You missed that one

  45. Pocket holes have their place in woodworking. They are fast and convenient, BUT only if the ugly pocket holes don't need to be filled. By the time you add up all the time it takes to fill and sand the pocket holes (sometimes using time consuming custom-made plugs), pocket holes are just not an ideal joining solution.

    Pocket holes are also weaker than dowels. You also can't drill a tight row of pocket holes without significantly weakening the lumber. On the other hand, with dowels, you can drill a bunch of dowels tightly packed together and in multiple rows to increase the joint strength. You can't do that with pocket holes. Pocket holes really only make sense, in my opinion, in hidden areas where the ugly pocket holes will not see the light of day.

    I recently bought a Kreg K5 jig, and although I like it a lot, I will only use it for making pocket hole joints in 2×4 treated lumber for making outdoor furniture using Kreg's heavy duty (HD) screws. And I'll only use pocket holes in the 2x lumber when the joints can be hidden because the holes are so ugly with jagged edges. I also like using pocket holes in doing quick repairs, where doweling is not practical or possible.

    I am looking into buying either a Dowelmax, a Jessem, or a Joint Genie. They all have their individual strengths, but I'm leaning towards the simplicity of the Joint Genie.

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