Filling Nail Holes
I am making an
oak bookcase as a builtin
for our living room.
What’s the best way to
fill the nail holes and
finish the trim pieces
once they’re in place?
Don’t try to finish the trim in place. It’s best to
have all of your finish work done before you install
As you install your trim, be careful about where
you nail. For example, it’s harder to see nail holes
in the dark, coarse earlywood of oak than in the
smoother latewood (photos above).
After the trim is installed, fill the nail holes with
one of the numerous fillers designed to be applied
to finished wood. Minwax makes Blend-Fil pencils (available wherever Minwax products are sold),
Behlens Fill Sticks and similar products are all available from mail
order catalogs that carry finish supplies.
fillers are crayon-like in texture and come in a
variety of shades to match most finishes.
These fillers are easy to apply. Simply rub the
stick over the hole until it’s full, then wipe off the
excess with a clean rag. If you goof and the color
is off, just take a wire nail, gently dig out the filler
and try a different shade. You can also blend colors.
For example; if the color from a stick is a little
light, score the surface of the filler and rub in
a darker color. The two colors will blend in the
hole and produce a new shade.
Tip: A nail hole filled with a
color that’s darker than the surrounding
wood can pass for a pin
knot but a lighter color will always
call attention to itself.