Fixing Common Woodworking Mistakes

Fixing Common Woodworking Mistakes


– [Marc] The Wood
Whisperer is sponsored by Powermatic and Clear Vue Cyclones. Okay so today, we’re going to
talk about fixing mistakes. Not that I ever make them. ♫ Hit it ♫ (lively music) For other people who make mistakes you may want to know how to fix them so you could advice them
on how to make their errors not as visible. Here’s the thing about mistakes, honestly, we all make them and you’ve probably heard the
saying that a good woodworker, the sign of a good
woodworker is his ability or her ability to fix mistakes. It’s not that you don’t make them, you just know how to fix them
so that people don’t see them. There are times where you
have to have a do over so there are some
mulligans in woodworking. But I would say about 99%
of the mistakes that happen are fixable and repairable
to a level that your client or whoever you’re giving it to, they will never even see it. If you’re going to repair mistakes, there are a couple of things
that you’re going to need, your best friends. Number one, CA glue,
cyanoacrylate glue, super glue, whatever you want to call it and then also this is essential. Super glue does dry quickly but not as fast as I want it to and I use a quick set activator. Most of this come with, if you buy one brand of the glue, you usually have the
same brand that they sell aerosol activator and that allows the glue
to cure up immediately. If you’re holding a small piece in place little dab will do you,
spray the activator on there and then it’s just immediately dry. CA glue is essential. A good quality filler, Timbermate is my favorite brand of filler very effective, doesn’t shrink, comes in a lot of good colors, and those colors are a
fantastic match for the woods that they’re supposed to match. You’ll also want an iron. – [Nicole] Where did you get that? – The store. (lively music) Let’s say you’re routing a workpiece and you get a little bit of tearout in the middle of the workpiece. As you’re going along you
just hear that sort of sound that no woodworker likes to hear is that “crank” as you’re routing. That means you lost a big chunk. If you can save the chunk, great because you’re going to use it, we’ll do that in a little bit. If you can’t save the chunk, sometimes the only thing that makes sense is to use a filler and that’s the example that I’ve got here. Take a look at this piece, so we actually have two
and I know this is maple so it’s going to be a little
bit difficult for you to see but where my finger is
here, that’s one that’s got the filler placed in it already. So we’ll use that in a
second to fast forward but right here you may not
be able to see that too well but there’s a gouge,
pretty good size gouge. What I’m going to do is
use Timbermate maple beach and pine flavor, pop that lid off. This is water based by the way and as it dries up, how many times have you
bought a thing a filler and you’re going to open it up and it’s completely cured, right? What a pain in the butt. This stuff is water
based so if you do that and it’s cured because
the water evaporated, spray some water in there, put the lid on, come back in an hour
and it’s usable again. All I’m going to do is
grab a little bit of this good stuff here. Okay there’s my gouge, put that right in there. Now later we’re going to look
at a similar gouge like this and do a wood repair but right now I just
want to focus on filler. Now I don’t use filler all that often but there are just
times where it really is the most sensible solution. So you want to overfill
of course like that, make sure there’s enough in
there and then let it dry. It’s water based, it does dry fast but not fast enough for a demo. Let’s look at the one
that’s already filled. I’m just going to sand it back. If you look at the color match here, this is what I love about
Timbermate and we’re zoomed in. Obviously that’s going to
be a lot more noticeable when you’re zoomed like
this but once it’s finished this stuff does take
stain and you pull back and you look at this whole leg as a whole you’re not
really going to see that. I wish I had the right
colored pencil for this but I’ve done this in the past. One of the things that makes
filler not look so good is the fact that it
matches the background wood which it does pretty well here. What it doesn’t do is it
doesn’t gives us those fine grain lines that run through it so if it’s a really big flaw like this probably
isn’t that big of a deal but if it was a larger surface area, if you get a colored pencil
that’s closely matched to the color of the grain lines, you can actually trace
those grain lines in. Now I’ll tell you what, this is a colored pencil I
stole from my son’s playroom. It’s not the right color but
if you go to the craft store you could pick up some
really, try to get one that’s as soft as possible and get them in a range
of browns, all right. Then basically look at where
the grain starts and stops and you can actually try to
carry that grain line through however looks natural. Believe it or not, again
not the right color so it stands out a little
more than I would want it to but if you pull back and look at that, that actually will help disguise this and make it look like real wood. The key though is you got to quickly put a fast drying finish on that or the pencil will just kind of wipe off. Just a little bit of shellac or lacquer probably isn’t a bad idea
for something to seal that color in. (lively music) How about a misplaced mortise? Has that ever happened? It’s never happened to me but I’ve heard it happens to people so the
key with something like this is to simply fill it, right. You’ve got a hole, you need to fill it. The problem is a lot of
people make the mistake of thinking “Well, all right
let me cut a little piece,” because you would have
a tenon going in there so let me cut the tenon and put the grain running this way. The problem is if you do that, you’re going to have
end grain showing here so it’s going to be a lot more noticeable than if you do a long grain joint. I just basically cut
some scrap, sized it down so that it would fit nice and snug and then I also taper the ends. A lot of people may have
trouble getting this piece cut perfectly so there’s no gaps. Don’t worry about cutting it perfectly, cut it about a 16th of an inch oversized, grab a piece of sandpaper and just give yourself a little angle on both sides. Little bit of a taper and that’s going to allow me
to coat this sucker with glue. I’m doing this very quickly, bit of rush. Like this, of course you’d want glue
in the mortise as well. Put it in and because you
have those ends tapered as I hammer this down it’s
going to take up the slack on the outside edges. It’s really is just a
superficial repair, all right it’s not a structural thing so
as long as I don’t see gaps, I’ll be happy. All right, so you would
let the glue dry on that and then you will just plane
it flush with the surface. There’s one that I’ve
already done, it’s in place, probably wasn’t as careful
with it as I should have been so I’m just going to grab a block plane just clean that up a little bit. Okay, and that is a pretty acceptable
repair in my opinion. In fact if you didn’t know that I did that and you just looked at that piece, you probably wouldn’t know
that it even happened. Now if my mortise is in the wrong spot, I could relocate my mortise. Even if part of the new mortise, a lot of times that is what happens, you’re just a little bit offset so your new mortise will go
into part of this repair, that’s fine. It’s solid wood, it’s
going in the same direction as the rest of our leg. If we route into it, there won’t be any associated
problems with it, right? So that’s a great way to
fix your misplaced mortises. (lively music) Let’s say you got a little bit of chipout. Maybe you’re doing some edge routing and I got a piece of tape here just because I didn’t
want to lose the piece. Here’s the thing,
whenever you have chipout, if you can recover the piece and a lot of times you’ll be on your knees with a magnifying glass looking for it because finding the chipped
out piece saves you a ton of time and effort because that piece is already perfectly cut to
fill the void of the chipout. Right now just so you know this I created with a chisel so I gouged in
here and then flaked it out. So it’s not exactly the
same thing you would see but you get the idea. This is a good use for CA glue but if you look real close here, that is a dead on match for the fit right and that’s why you want to
find this piece if you can. Let’s put a little bit
of CA glue on there, by the way CA glue comes in a
couple different viscosities, different thicknesses. I like medium and gel for error repairs. Occasionally I do have a
calling to use the thin stuff but man is that stuff watery. Not great for repairs in my opinion. Okay, so I could just
put this guy in place if I want to, like this. Now a lot of people will put
the activator on the other end, I don’t want to do that
because I want to make sure this gets a lot of pressure. The glue gets distributed and then I could use my activator. Okay, so I’ll use something like little putty knife like this put some diagonal pressure down and just hit it with a
little bit of the activator. Now you’ll definitely have
a little bit of squeeze out to contend with but that
could easily be sanded or chiseled away. Normally I’d give it a couple
more minutes to cure out but you would sand it nice
and smooth and look at that. It’s a repair on top of a repair, let’s pretend that didn’t
happen, can we do that? Give it a little sanding. All right so there will be no visible line when it’s all set and done
because it’s lock and key, it fits in perfectly. (lively music) There are times where you’re not going to recover this
piece, you can’t find it. That is what this example represents here. Right at the corner, just nothing really you could do about it. All right, popped right out, now you’re cursing, you’re very upset. Sometimes in order to fix a mistake you actually have to
make the problem worse so what I’m going to try to do is actually turn this into a
surface that I can work with. Right now it’s useless to me but I want to take a piece
of scrap and glue it in place and I need a nice flat area to do that so you can do it with a
chisel or you can use a plane. I’m not left handed so
this may not go so well. Once you have a nice flat
surface we now have something we can work with by taking
another piece like this. Now you may use yellow glue if you have a way to clamp this securely but once again CA glue is my hero. For this one, I’m going to put
the glue on the work piece. Okay, a little bit of
glue on the work piece, quick set activator, spread it around a little bit, you only have a couple of seconds. That’s good, now this is
just a big old chunk of scrap I had laying around. You probably would want to size this down to be a little bit more
appropriately sized for this because now I’ve got a
lot of material to remove and that becomes a lot of work but I typically with a smaller piece could then come back to this. I may very well knock this off and that’s why you don’t
have as much material here. If it’s a smaller piece you
don’t have as much to work and you could just kind
of pare away with a chisel or take light passes with a plane but I don’t know, let’s see what happens. If it comes off, it comes off, just to understand why. Notice how well that’s holding
just with that CA glue, all right and that’s why you could be a little bit more confident
in a repair like this that it’s going to be fine. – [Nicole] Go on. – Really, you want me to go? – [Nicole] Yeah, go on, I want to see it. – Nicole wants to see
it, I better go then. Let’s keep going. I was just trying to stop
while I was ahead here. – [Nicole] I want to see this. – Not the best match in terms of the grain but for a quick job it’s not too bad and of course we use a saw
to trim off the edge here. All together though we
made the problem worse to allow us to put a nice patch in and the results aren’t too bad. (lively music) A lot of times you drop a workpiece right? That can happen or you
drop something on it like “Oh my gosh, I dented my workpiece.” Here’s the great thing about a dent, a dent is nothing more
than compressed fibers. Unless the dent is so severe like that where you’ve actually separated fibers, you can actually get most
of this to spring back because you’ve effectively
just crashed fibers so we need to do something
that brings some life back, helps those fibers spread
apart a little bit. All right so I’ve got a light dent here, two side by side dents here and a really severe
dent that I don’t think is going to repair very well, this will be probably
more visible with water. Here’s the other one. I can barely see it myself right there. So I’m letting a little
bit of water sit on there while I prep a blue shop towel
or some kind of a wash cloth, whatever you have is fine,
just something absorbent that you can soak with water. What we’re going to do is steam the dents. Now we know that wood
expands with moisture right? And that it can expand
quickly if it’s hot moisture also known as steam. If we can very carefully
steam these dented areas, we may be able to get the
wood fibers to spread out and fill up that gap
and the dent goes away. Let’s do just that, I’m going to focus on some of these bigger ones here, I’m trying to remember where they all are. Sometimes by the way the water … It’s like straight from
treating right there, the water will in of
itself cause expansion even without the heat so you
may have trouble finding them because they’ve already expanded but there’s a good one right there let’s steam that bad boy. Now, if your board is really
thin, you have to be careful, too much moisture, too much heat you can actually cause a
little bit of warping to occur but usually on a big
solid piece you’re okay. You can also be a little
bit more careful than I am, I’m being very messy with
this by using the pinpoint tip of the iron and just kind of focusing in your flawed area. It’s not a bad idea but
for the sake of a demo I’m just kind of being sloppy. What are you doing honey? Ironing my wood. You can see we still have
that really severe dent right here. It’s a little bit better but like I said crashed fibers are one thing, fibers that actually get sever because it was such a deep impact that’s going to be a problem and that’s going to be
hard if not impossible to use the steaming method to get out but you can certainly make
it less of a big deal. Here I’ve got a little
bit left on this guy, I don’t know if you can
really make that out. This is also a pretty rough board so there’s a little bit of
material left right there that I didn’t get it to reform. Maybe a hair here just a
little bit barely detectable and I had a spot that was
over here fairly light dent that I can’t even find anymore. All of these with a little bit of sanding, so three light duty dents gone. This one on the other hand, if you could see is the wood fibers or the sanded dust fills that up, it’s a little bit too deep, but we can make it look
a little bit better. This is a technique that I
would use for light duty dents, not really heavy stuff. You can also use the
steaming technique on plywood if you need to. Plywood a lot of times even if
it’s a nice looking surface, just dragging it around
the tools and the shop where your workbench and the shop can put these
little hairline scratches on there and sometimes before I sand if it’s noticeable enough before
I give it my final sanding because you don’t want to sand plywood very aggressively right? A lot of times what you can do is do a little bit of the steam treatment on any noticeable scratches. Let the fibers in that top layer veneer puff up a little bit, they’ll get very rough
and then you could do your final sanding and a lot
of times that final sanding is a lot quicker and
easier and those mistakes or those little flaws just go away. Don’t be too aggressive
about it on plywood because you don’t want to
like reactivate the glue in the veneer layer, you don’t
want to warp the plywood, you got to be careful with it. For very noticeable surface flaws, you can spot treat them and
actually get a decent result. (lively music) Now one thing I’ll
address, a lot of people when they talk about
repairs, fixing repairs, they’ll talk about glue and wood dust. Take the dust of whatever
wood you’re working with, get a little bit of CA glue
or epoxy, mix it together and that can be a sufficient repair. That can work in some instances but I don’t really like it as a finish. The reason is because
this type of material … (compressor turns on) I need to turn off my compressor. It’s a real shot people. – [Nicole] We’re alive. – Yeah, doing real woodworking here. – [Nicole] You’re talking
about the CA glue. – Yeah, okay. The problem that I have
with that is CA glue, epoxy even type on, these
things don’t accept stains so even when you put on a clear finish, clear finish still imparts
a color change to the wood. If you’ve repaired a certain area then you hit it with finish or worse yet an actual stain, a lot of
times it becomes an eye sore. Even if you have the wood
fibers mixed with it, they’re not absorbed,
they’re just wood fibers in a liquid suspension. Now, and even with epoxy, a lot of times you look
really close at epoxy that’s been mixed with saw dust, look really close at it,
it just looks like saw dust suspended in a resin. So you have to be careful about
how and when you use that. Not sort of a different story because you could put a
little dye in an epoxy mix and you could fill a
knot and a lot of times knots are so darkly colored that if you use a clear
material to fill a little flaw, it actually will be hard to see, because it’s just showing
the dark color beneath it but hopefully that prepares
you for any mistakes, common mistakes you might confront. Maybe in the future like I said we’ll do an updated
version based on feedback. How do you repair this,
how do you repair that, but this should get you going
for some really basic repairs.

100 thoughts on “Fixing Common Woodworking Mistakes

  1. Can I wait til wood glue dries over night and then wake up screw in screws later? because slippery glue bothers me and makes wood slided when trying to quickly screw. In other workds does waiting til dry and then penetrating screws ruien the bond?

  2. Alright, I engraved a piece of wood, then I stained the engravings. I'm not happy with how dark the engraving is, is there a fix for this?

  3. Using epoxy, if you know what your final color is going to be you can color the epoxy and or the wood dust that color.

  4. You seemed to have missed my particular problem. A mis-drilled hole in pine. UGHH. I really don't want to remake the piece I messed up. Plus, it is an outside face. I am trying a dowel as a filler. I don't think the endgrain is going to match. Plus, I plan on sealing the pine and staining with a water based stain.

  5. It is slow to dry and expensive, but liquid hide glue accepts stains and finishes almost comparably to the wood dust (hot hide glue might be better, as it will solidify [freeze] before the water is evaporated, but is a little problematic to work with–you need a coffee pot or somesuch to heat it up for use). I use hide glue & (sanding) wood dust to fill many gaps (esp. marquetry/inlay), scratches, & gouges. Sand /scrape level to the surface once fully dry (~overnight). Avoid heat or moisture afterwards since those reactivate the glue (ie, use only oil based finishes). Since hide glue is gelatin (aspic), if a dog has the run of your shop, it might want to gnaw on your repair. Keep pets away or perhaps add pepper spray to the glue slurry.

  6. Best experience with CA flue was when my sister was trying to open the tube with her teeth…the cap finally broke free and glue shot up under my sisters lip. She then tried to lick it off and then her tongue got stuck to the roof of her mouth…..she started crying and we were cracking up laughing until we knew the seriousness of the situation. Needless to say we spent the evening in the hospital to remove her tongue from the roof of her mouth. Will never forget that.

  7. We bought wood patio furniture and the notches that stick out don’t fit in the holes. Well one side will but the other side won’t at the same time. I think the holes were made in the wrong spots. Anyway we can’t get the furniture together! Any ideas? Shave down the notches? Open the holes more?

  8. I have sanded a bench with 80, 120 and them 220. I am new at this… Didn't know that over sanding would seal the wood and it would not accept stain. I put minwax classic grey on it wanted to match the table. I sanded the pine table the same. It accepted the stain…no problem. But when I went to stain the bench…used same method but the bench did not accept the stain. Can I put dye over the minwax stain? I am desperate. I made this for my son and I had no idea that sanding with 220 would do this. I do now!!!! What are my options. Will the waterbased dye work? Is there a oil based dye? Where to find it in grey? Will I have to paint to try to match as best I can. I really need help……

  9. I make so many mistakes that I now just build completely from wood filler and then use real wood to fix any mistakes I make in the filler.

  10. Came by your show by chance . I do floor sanding and what I found to be the best wood filler is your common garden variety of topping compound ( yes the same used in plaster walls ) mix with oxides for color and approx 10 % PVA glue … MAGIC

  11. I think this was a very interesting video. I do a lot of wood turning and the thin CA glue is very good at helping to make spalted wood a bit stronger.

  12. This is so great! Thank you for sharing! But, one could save time to begin with, by using a template tool. Just sayin.
    Emmy Braxtly

  13. Not that it makes much difference in repairs but using the activator on CA glue reduces its strength by up to 50%. Nice jobs thank you.

  14. Ok I just got my sofa’s upholstered and the guy hammered nails on top of wooden arm rests at various places while putting the sofa together again… Really pissed as the perfectly fine wood is all dented with hammer strikes and the deep nails are visible too… What should I do.. HELP

  15. I'm currently try making a live edges table top and I've done a few passes with 60 grit and 80 grit s paper with random orbital. I've noticed there are a few deeper lines across the grain , I think from where heavier wood was previously left on top of 2 x 4s on top of my piece. Should I use a belt sander to try even everything out or is a belt sander too harsh. It's ceder wood and I read somewhere that a belt sander could eat through it fast .
    Also , would u recommend filling all cracks with epoxy despite how small they may be ?? Thanks in advance

  16. Thank you so much for your tip of using an iron. Never knew that….used it on some dents that I had as I'm redoing my kitchen with wainscoting and pine boards and it worked like a charm!! Thanks so much!!

  17. Hi, I am trying to build a small table with a drawer. But when I fixed the base with the sides I noticed small gaps maybe due to the uneven edge of one or more planks. How do I fix it? Would the wood filler be enough? The gap is about 1/8 of an inch.

  18. Appreciate you advertising The Flight of the Concords…….we are very proud of our Kiwi comedians doing so well on the international stage

  19. My grandad used to mix the sawdust from the piece he was cutting with wood glue to make filler 😉 Can't beat that colour match!

  20. How about particle boards covered with Formica (European kitchen doors)? I had to replace the door Invisible hinches but the new one screw holes do not patch original ones. How do I fill the old holes Before outing the new ones?

  21. Really enjoy the channel and videos! One gripe though if you dont mind…. it always bothers me when grown men wear band tshirts or joke tshirts like a teenager or someone in their early 20s. Always grinds my gears when I see it.

  22. I read on another post to use Shellac and wood dust as a filler. The shellac will accept a stain and finish. Going to try on one of my tear outs.

  23. Saw this video some time back and thought pretty cool, but had no need of it. This weekend I’m building a bedside table for my son and blam ended up with a tear out on one of the légale and was stressing trying to think of what do to to repair and I remembered seeing this video. Putting your tips to work saved a project that was 80 percent complete! Thanks for posting these videos!!

  24. I have an antique small table with a deep burn on the top of it. This is my very first time to do a refinish on anything, removing several layers of paint/lacquer. The burn was on top of this paint job and into the surface of the wood. Any ideas how to repair and patch? Your video was very informative, thank you!

  25. Sure you've heard this by now, but cyanoacrylate cures with moisture (which is why it sticks skin fast), so can use water as an accelerant.

  26. Considering this video is five years old, I can safely assume someone has already noted this tip—but a simple solution to using wood glue which doesn’t accept stain is to apply stain to the chip and damaged areas prior to the bonding application. I’ve been doing this for years with dowel plugs as a precaution for spill over and found that it creates a seamless transition.

  27. HELP Wood Whisperer. I’m just starting out, came up with some horrible swirl marks from sander, noticing after I stained, glue marks too. I was going to try and sand areas back down by hand and restain. Now I used wood conditioner before staining as I’m working with poplar( didn’t do my research before purchasing) . Is this the best way to go about a fix? Also after I sanded areas, should I again add conditioner before restaining?

  28. Great video, loads of valuable info!

    It’s really unimportant, but I can’t stop myself asking how you managed to steal Bill Nye’s exact voice.

  29. Not sure if you’re still watching these comments, but if you could talk through repairs on a loose dado my shelf would thank you.

  30. Just watched a credenza build and thay guy told me that the advice from the first 30 or so seconds of this video is BS. Not sure I can trust him though, he sure did have a lot of tattoos.

  31. I just discovered you and subscribed. I have something to add to your tricks and techniques for wood repairs if you're still looking at comments that is. I've worked in wood most of my adult life and for the last 20 years I've made my living as a home repair contractor, commonly known as a handyman. Something that I discovered that helps me in the situation that you demonstrated in your video where the steaming process didn't help the deep indentation with broken fibers, is little trick I learned repairing screw and nail holes. Those kinds of repairs can show up plainly because of their shape. When the damage crosses the grain or is a round hole it can still be quite visible even after a successful color match. I use a sharp blade and carve small, tapering striations radiating out from the repair in the direction of the wood grain. Then fill the voids as usual. I have found that with a little patience you can turn a round hole into what looks like a normal pattern of wood grain. The eye is not drawn to the repair as it would be with a round hole or cross-grain wound.

  32. The thin super glue is great for Luthier work, use it with some baking soda and you can fix the nut on the guitar like new!

  33. I have a diy farmhouse blanket ladder I made and now the wood has twisted. The legs of the ladder isn’t sitting flush to the wall and the left side of bottom of ladder is sticking way out. Please help!! It’s already been hammered into place and stained and getting more warped as time goes on

  34. I would not recommend timber mate wood filler on anything which comes in touch with any human because it gets removed just with nails.

  35. Let me throw my two sense in……filler will spread into the open pours of the adjacent area you are trying to fix and look lousy when it comes time for final finish; especially on open grain woods. It's best to blue tape the adjacent areas around your defect before spreading on filler. Free advice from an old pro.

  36. Good tips, thank you. Re drawing grain lines with a colored pencil, sometime I extend the drawn lines past the edge of the repair onto the original wood, fading them as I go. I find it helps the eye travel smoothly form patch to unpatched areas. Additionally, if the pencil is not an exact color match for the grain around the patch, I have found that, if I judiciously draw a few light lines on the wood surrounding the patch, things seem to match after all.

  37. Here’s a tough one: I was sanding a very nice MCM table top and in one corner it seems to have sanded through the veneer. Although I don’t think it is veneer, but solid wood. The spot I over-sanded will not accept stain. The stain comes right off. Talk about disappointment….

  38. I have recently started woodworking….I am basically learning from Home depot and Youtube…I am having issues with taking off round
    edge of lumber without a Table saw…and my pieces fitting flush…any advis

  39. Great video, I really appreciate the tips and tricks to repair my mistakes. I'm the goofball that always drops something or accidentally dents something and then ends up wondering how in the world I am going to fix it…now I know, so thanks!

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