Learning, Drilling,

Can You Drill into Wood Filler?

In this article, you’ll get a clear idea about whether you can or cannot drill into wood filler.

Have you ever had to drill into an area of wood filler to create a screw hole? In this situation, you might be concerned about damaging the wood filler. And your concern is entirely reasonable. As a handyman, I have ran into this problem several times, and in this article, I’m going to give you some valuable tips regarding drilling into the wood filler.

You can generally drill into the wood filler as long as the wood filler is thoroughly dried and cured. Otherwise, you’ll end up creating a crack in the wood filler. Multi-purpose wood fillers and two-part epoxy wood fillers prevent these cracks during the drilling process. Apart from that, you should always consider the drilling depth of the hole.

I’ll go into more detail in my article below.

Few Things About Wood Fillers

Before finding an answer to whether you can drill into the wood filler, you need to know about wood filler.

Wood filler is handy for filling holes, cracks, and dents on wood. After filling, you can smooth the surface. It is a must-have product in every handyman’s backpack.

Quick Tip: Wood filler combines a filling substance and a binding agent. They have the texture of the putty and come in different colors.

Can You Drill into Wood Filler?

Yes, you can drill into wood filler after it gets dried and cured. Never drill into the wet wood filler. It might create cracks on the wood filler. Also, depending on the type of wood filler, you can drill into wood filler without any hesitation. Some wood filler types are not suitable for any drilling. You’ll get a better idea after the following section.

Different Types of Wood Filler

As I mentioned earlier, there are different types of wood filler for different types of wood. I’ll explain them in this section, including the types best for drilling.

Simple Wood Filler

Also known as a wood stopper, this simple wood filler is capable of fixing cracks, holes, and dents on wood easily and quickly. However, if you are looking for high-quality wood filler, you won’t get it here.

Important: Drilling simple wood filler is not recommended. Because of the soft nature of the simple wood fillers, they will start to show cracks while drilling. Or the wood filler might break into small parts.

Two Part Epoxy Wood Fillers

These epoxy wood fillers are made from resins. They are capable of creating durable and hard fillers. When using epoxy wood fillers, you should apply two layers; undercoat and second coat.

After drying, these epoxy fillers are highly stable and don’t expand or shrink in the wood. Also, they are capable of keeping out insects and moisture.

Epoxy wood fillers are the best type of filler for drilling. They can hold screws and nails in place without creating cracks.

Exterior Wood Fillers

These exterior wood fillers are the best for external wood surface filling. Because of the exterior use, these fillers are waterproof and can hold paint, polish, and stain.

When dried and cured, the exterior wood fillers are suitable for drilling.

Multi-Purpose Wood Fillers

As the name suggests, these wood fillers are multi-purpose. They have the same qualities that epoxy and exterior wood fillers have. Apart from that, you can use these fillers even in winter. With quick fixes and dry capabilities, you can apply them to wooden exteriors.

Because of the hardness, you can drill into multi-purpose wood fillers without any issue.

Types of Wood Fillers Suitable for Drilling

Here is a simple chart that represents the above section.

Wood Filler TypeDrilling (Yes/No)
Simple Wood FillersNo
Epoxy Wood FillersYes
Exterior Wood FillersYes
Multi-purpose Wood FillersYes

Drilling Depth of the Hole

When drilling a wood filler, you should consider the depth of the hole. For instance, the hole’s depth will vary according to the type of wood. Here is a chart that gives you the depth of the hole.

Drilling Depth Hole (inches)Type of the Wood
0.25Large firm hardwood pieces such as Oak
0.5Medium firm wood pieces such as Fir
0.625Medium firm wood pieces such as Cherry
1Softwoods such as Cedar

It is always better if you could follow the above-recommended depths while drilling wood filler. Otherwise, your whole project might go to waste.

How to Drill into Wood Fillers

As you can understand, there are three types of wood fillers that you can drill into without worrying about any cracks. But do you know how to drill into them? Well, I’m going to give you some simple steps here. But first, you should know how to apply wood fillers properly, and I’ll cover that too.

Things You’ll Need

  • A suitable wood filler
  • Tack cloth
  • Sandpaper
  • Sealer
  • Putty knife
  • Paint or stain
  • Nails or screws
  • A power drill
  • Drill bits

Step 1 – Prepare the Surface

Before applying the wood filler, you should prepare the surface you will fill. So, remove any loose paint or stain. Also, get rid of any loose wood chunks around the filling area.

Step 2 – Sanding

Take the sandpaper and sand the rough edges in the filling area. After that, use the moistened tack cloth to remove any dust and debris created from the sanding process.

Important: Allow the wood surface to dry before starting the next step.

Step 3 – Apply Wood Filler to the Screw Holes

Use the putty knife and start applying the wood filler. First, cover the edges and then move on to the filling area. Remember to apply a little bit more wood filler than the hole required. It will come in handy in case of shrinkage. Remember to cover all the screw holes.

Step 4 – Let It Dry

Now, wait until the wood filler gets dry. For some wood fillers, the drying process might take longer. And for some, it will be shorter. For instance, it could take from 20 minutes to several hours, depending on the type of wood filler. (1)

Note: Don’t forget to check the instructions on the wood filler container for drying time.

After the drying process, use sandpaper on the edges of the filling area. Apply paint, stain, or polish to the filling area if needed. (2)

Step 5 – Start Drilling

Drilling into the wood filler will be easy if you correctly complete the filling and drying parts. Also, the wood filler should be suitable for drilling, and you should consider maximum drilling depth. Here are some valuable tips for drilling into wood fillers.

  • Start the drilling process with a small drill bit and test the filling area first.
  • It is always better to create a pilot hole first. Creating a pilot hole will help you properly guide the screw or nail.
  • When using epoxy wood filler, dry it for at least 24 hours.

How to Test the Strength of the Wood Filler in a Screw Hole?

There is a simple and easy test for this. First, drill a nail or screw into the wood filler. Then, apply weight on the screw and see if the wood filler is cracking or not.

Take a look at some of our related articles below.

(1) drying process – https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/
(2) sandpaper – https://www.grainger.com/know-how/equipment-information/kh-sandpaper-grit-chart

Video References

Painting and Decorating

The Craftsman Blog

Gardening with Edward

Woodwork Hubby

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About Sam Orlovsky

AvatarCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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