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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.

ProBond Wood Filler [Elmer’s]
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12 Responses to Hands-On: Elmer’s ProBond Wood Filler

  1. G says:

    I must have bought a bad tube because I had the hardest time getting any filler out of the tube. It was an unopened pack too.

  2. Hank says:

    I have tried this product a number of times hoping that it will do what I need it to do. It, and most pre-made products like it just generally do not work well for me. It does have a problem getting out of the tube.

    I have gone exclusively with sawdust and glue as fillers. I have used CA glue/sawdust with success and yellow glue/sawdust with success. It has disadvants too, but it will not crack or fall out.

  3. ShopMonger says:

    I have used the filler Sean showed many times and had great success with it. It is hard to get the filler out….

  4. Willie says:

    Can this wood filler — or any other — be drilled after drying?

    We need to move the hinges on a cabinet over just a bit, so we’re thinking of filling in the existing holes all the way and then re-drilling them new, IF the wood filler will hold …

    • Matthew says:

      Cut a piece of wood dowel or use a toothpick to glue that into the hole rather than wood filler. It fills better and is easier to sand for final finish.

    • Steve says:

      Minwax high performance wood filler. It’s a two part epoxy, and I’ve used it with great success on many occasions.

      However, it dries to a hard plastic epoxy– it can be shaped, sanded, planed and drilled– but it will not take stain. I also caution that it dries harder than the wood– so don’t think you’ll be able to leave it. Tilt up and sand it flush– th mOre you sand, the more you’ll wear down the wood fibers AROUND the filler, and therefore you’ll continue to see your patch. Smear only what you need and sand with a block.
      Hope that helps someone.

  5. Barb says:

    I have a couple of holes that I need to fill inside a door frame between two rooms. The woodwork is painted white. Can I use Elmer’s wood filler and paint over it. It mentions that you can stain over it, but I need to paint it white.

  6. Gabrielle says:

    I have bought this product twice, and I still can’t get it out of the tube! I thought that the first tube I got was old, and dried out, but the second was the same..hard clumps inside.I cut the neck off, poked into the tube multiple times, kneaded it for a long time, and had to stand on it just to get a few millimeters out!

  7. Jeff Newcomer says:

    Tried and tried to get the wood filler to come out of the opening but the tube burst and it came out the bottom. This was a mess. I will not buy this product again.

  8. Anna Nimus says:

    I agree with some of the others- I can’t get it to come out of the tube. I have a brand-new tube and just snipped the end off and I’ve tried everything including standing on it. 🙁

  9. Jack Rockwell says:

    I purchased two tubes at Lowe’s couldn’t get out of the tube even with large hole appears to be dry. both tubes.

    Please advise, Jack.

  10. Stan says:

    I purchased Probond in a small 16 oz. tub (not a typo; a tub like a margarine container). No squeezing required. It accepts paint and stain. Depending on the depth of the patch and the humidity, it’s usually sandable in less than 20 minutes.

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