Wood filler is truly inspired stuff — not only does it allow the crafter to fix mistakes, but it also allows someone like me, who’s not the world’s greatest woodworker, to create pieces that can be displayed without shame or explanations. To paraphrase some rather famous marketing, “Filler doesn’t make the things you build; it makes the things you build less jackass.” We uncapped a tube in the Toolmonger wood shop to show you how it works.
Before you start working with ProBond filler, you need to know that it’s not a “one size fits all” affair. Select what type of wood you’ll be working with, and buy the correct filler to go with it. In our case –- as usual –- we selected red oak. It also comes in other wood colors, such as mahogany, birch, maple, white oak, etc.
To get started, just unscrew the top and snip off the tip, and you’re ready to go. You’ll notice that this stuff is very paste-like and doesn’t have much grit to it like other fillers, so you can push it into holes very easily. To apply it, just squeeze a very small amount onto your finger, and push it into the crack or hole with a circular motion. I prefer to do it with a bare finger because that way I’m better able to feel when something’s flat, and it’s almost impossible to mar the surface of a project with your finger.
Though the directions say to wait 15 minutes before sanding, I can’t think of a time when I have. Normally I just grab the homebrew sanding block and go to town with 80 or 100-grit, and sand away the excess right after applying. It works surprisingly well, and most of the time I don’t even need to break out the palm sander.
Stains and finishes come out looking very professional. In the last six months I’ve completed somewhere in the neighborhood of two dozen projects with the ProBond filler, and it hasn’t disappointed me once. Light or dark doesn’t really seem to matter — the filler accepts stain well on either side of the spectrum, and it basically takes on the color of the wood’s grain.
Elmer’s ProBond filler isn’t a magical salve — it won’t just fix anything you manage to smear it on. Think of it more like Revlon, reducing the appearance of fine lines and deep pores, or in this case, seams and nail holes.
You can’t sculpt with it, and it won’t solve big problems. But for a project that doesn’t look so great, store-bought or what have you, it’ll hide the flaws well enough that you won’t find ’em unless you examine the piece pretty closely. They’re still there, but the casual observer won’t see ’em unless you point ’em out, or they know where and how to look — and that’s worth the $3 per tube you pay for it.