The nature of wood is ever changing and sometimes it is hard to use, other times easy but in most cases it is pretty forgiving, especially when it comes with inherent defects that either formed by the tree it'self, of were created by other elements like rot, insects or other burrowing animals or things. Luck for us, many of these things can be fixed one way or another.

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The degree to how much or how little of a "fix" is required depends on many things from the woodworker to the intended use of the project and ... in many cases, you will find there are can be a few different ways of fixing these defects and it all depends on how much effort and expense that a project deserves. 

Nail or Screw Cracked Wood
One problem I still have from time to time is not taking the time to pre-drill holes for screws or nails and end up driving in larger screws than the wood will withstand and the end result is the wood cracks. This can happen a lot as we get closer to the end of a board.

Fixing Cracked Wood

Does this ... or something like this ever happen to you?

Fixing screw cracks in wood

But  ... if you are sometimes a bit lazy like me and don't pre-drill or clamp, and you end up with a cracked board, often all is not lost.  Leave the screw or nail in the wood, and reach for your "Thin" CA Glue and some glue accelerator. With screw or nail in, the crack will be at it's largest opening, simply ensure you get enough thin glue into the crack on all sides that are open, then pull the screw or nail out and allow the crack to go back together. Then clamp the wood and give it a spritz on all sides with the accelerator. 
Now with the -clamp still on-  drive the screw or nail back in. In almost every case I have found the CA glue will hold that wood fast and prevent it from re-cracking. If it's a critical component of your project you will have to evaluate whether that is the best fix for your project or if replacing the cracked board is needed, but in any event, always have at least 2 versions of CA glue in hand, Thin and Thick, and keep them in the refrigerator to get up to 18 months of use from them. 

Purchase FRESH CA glues directly from Starbond here - STARBOND

The Plug Fix
I often hear and read of people telling others to use dowels to plug holes with. This is often good advice, but sometimes just using a dowel is not enough. Dowels are almost always made from the best quality wood, nice straight grain wood, and no knots or defects, they need to be because they can be very thin and long. The problem with simply cutting off a chunk of dowel material, even if it is the same wood and the same color, in most cases you are adding what will be an END GRAIN plug into a SIDE or EDGE GRAIN piece of wood. The result of this is that the end grain, of course, absorbs much more finishing material and turns a much darker color than the edge or side grain making the dowel plug stand out like a beacon. 

Fixing knot holes in wood
The best option in many cases is to use "Plug Cutter" and cut the plug from the same kind of wood and as best to same color match as you can get. This may not get you a perfect match, but it should be very close and a huge improvement over the end grain dowel plug.

plug cutter

The Nasty Knot Repair
First of all, when you get a big nasty knot before you try to disguise it, think of it as a "feature" that you simply want to stabilize and maybe even enhance the look of. Trying to hide a big old knot can make thing worse for you so try to use techniques to 'show it off".
To figure out a fix you first need to examine the knot. If it has a hole in the center and cracks that reach from the center to the edges, that is a stable knot that should be able to be filled. If the knot is loose in the wood, or even coming out, that is a knot that needs to be re-glued back in. 

Stabilizing knot holes

This picture is actually of the BACK of the repaired wood just to give you an idea of what the before looked like

epoxy wood knots

This, of course, is the repaired crack with only rough planning and sanding

Depending on how loose the crack is, you may be able to use this epoxy filler as well, or you may be best to simply use epoxy glue.
The filler I am using in the video is an Eco-friendly product from Ecopoxy called EcoTrowel It's a 2 part epoxy, that can be colored to help match it whatever the user wants. In my case, I wanted something that would be a closer match in color, to the live edge of the board that way filling the knothole would tend to match the live edge piece. The other thing I love about this product is that although it is very hard, it does have a little bit of flex to it so when using it with wood, as the wood moves with increases in ambient humidity, the filler will also move a small bit making it ideal for wood repairs, but it can be used for almost any indoor or outdoor repair. 

** Editors Note - Ecopoxy is a Canadian Made Product and at time of writing not all products appear to be available internationally ... check here for more -


Copyright Colin Knecht

How to Fix Woodworking Mistakes



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