Customizing putty to match projects

Achieving the right match: Mixing putty from the jar or from scratch. October 31, 2000

Have any of you ever made your own putty? Off-the-shelf colors never seem to match exactly and I was wondering if it was possible to make my own, using stain and some other ingredients for an exact match. Any ideas?

Forum Responses
Fine sawdust, glue, and a little bit of water works, BUT you cannot stain it because glue will not take stain.

We usually get a couple close colors, one for darker wood and one for lighter (open grain/solid in oak, for example). If neither matches exactly, we mix them together.

You can stain the sawdust/glue mixture at the time you make it. After it's dry, it won't hold stain.

My father always saved sanding sawdust from a job to use later if needed for such a purpose.

We started using a color putty that comes in jars. We wait until the wood is stained and sealed and then we apply it while we are sealer sanding. You can mix the colors together to acheive almost any color you would want. This putty can be bought at most paint stores.

The best way to make putty and have it match is to buy white painters putty at your hardware store and then mix in either paint or stain. I have been doing this for years and found it works great.

You didn't say if you want hard or soft putty.

To make hard putty you can use wood patch made by Fix or Famowood. They come in a variety of colors. Both are solvent based, dry quickly and can be sanded smooth. You can mix and match to get the desired results.

Always do a test piece and finish it as you would your piece of work. Hard putty always works better for filling nail and staple holes or cracks prior to sanding on smooth-surface woods, and achieves nicer results.

Soft putty can be bought in different colors at local hardware or paint stores, and can be mixed and matched as well. This is most commonly used in the field during installation. It can be used just prior to your finish coat on open-grain woods such as oak, hickory, and ash, where the dimpling is not as apparent. It will shrink slightly. If applied after finishing it tends to dry and lighten.

Soft putty can also be made by starting with a white painters putty base and mixing paint pigments (found at a profesional paint supplier) to the desired color. Corn starch can be used to control consistency, but unless you're using mass amounts of the same color it is messy and time-consuming.

Wood dust and glue give very little control over color and can clog sanding equipment. Colored wax repair sticks are OK but you may burnish the finish trying to get the residue off, and they will not accept stain or finish.

Use sanding dust of the species of wood that you are using, from the belt sander, and mix it with Deft clear lacquer. We keep ours in baby food bottles and it keeps for a long time.