Hole Filling Tips

Advice on filling and hiding holes in an obvious visible location on cabinet doors. November 11, 2006

I am refinishing an oak kitchen and the customer wants to change the door handles to knobs, which means I have to hide one of the holes on all 38 doors. I usually do this by filling the hole with Bondo and leaving a slight dent that can be filled and color matched with wax sticks after the first washcoat. Any other ideas would help tremendously.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor S:
Mohawk makes epoxy sticks in several different colors. It's pretty easy to match colors with them and they're much stronger than Bondo. I have used Bondo and find the epoxy sticks much easier.

From contributor T:
Nothing will perfectly hide the holes, in my opinion. I would tell the client to stick to handles. If you are lucky, some styles of back plates may be able to cover these holes, if the look of back plates is acceptable. If he insists on knobs, I would tell him that the doors have to come back to the shop for filling and complete refinishing. I would mix very fine sawdust from the same wood into a bit of PL Premium construction adhesive (Home Depot) and use this as the wood filler. It should be a very thick dough. Sand the doors back to bare wood and refinish. I have a hard time getting wax to level properly; always see a dimple and the sheen rarely matches. I have used latex wood filler fairly successfully on the odd hole. A damp cloth wrapped around a wood block will somewhat level it without damaging the old finish. Then I use an air brush to blow on very fine coats of stains and finishes. Cut a hole in some cardboard as a masking shield. Good lucků Hiding all those holes all in the same spots, no way...

From contributor M:
Wax sticks are easily leveled with a plastic credit card. Use the edge of the card, and then just scrape it off the fill.

From Bob Niemeyer, forum technical advisor:
You're on the right track on how to do your repair. I have done it the same way many times. Just don't use soft waxes (I know you already know this). Have fun and be sure to charge well for your work! Also, since it's oak, be sure to cut open pore grain when needed in your filled areas.

From contributor M:
If you try the colored epoxy sticks, it will eliminate using the wax sticks for coloring, as the epoxy sticks already have wood color in them. You fill in the nail holes, then remove the overfill by scraping off the excess. This will leave a flat surface that needs very little sanding.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the help!

From contributor J:
There are touchup companies that supply products and solve this problem every day. I would burn in either a gloss or satin fill depending on the top coat sheen. It's now level and flush with the burn in, matching as close as possible to the lightest color in the background. Next, use dry pigments, which you mix to the correct color. Background, foreground, grain, and then topcoat. When you mix the colors and try that color on the wood and it just disappears, no further adjustments to the mix are needed. Bob's idea of also matching the pores of the grain makes the repair complete. Sometimes, you have to heat up your knife to not shatter the repair.