Staining Comercial Wood Putty?

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Blog entry by Roz posted 05-18-2011 07:25 PM 19275 reads 0 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Can anyone tell me how to get a good staining on a commercially available wood putty like Elmers?

Several years ago I stopped using and substituted a glue and sawdust mixture on any projects where the repair would show and appearance mattered. Appearance almost always matters on my project, if only to me.

I recently found myself using the commercially made putty while refinishing a floor and as normal, it stood out and would not accept enough color to allow for a match. I am not happy with the results. I hope a carpet will cover it. Thanks Roz.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

19 comments so far

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 4076 days

#1 posted 05-18-2011 08:40 PM

If you’re going to use a filler before you stain/finish, it’s best to use one that will most closely match the final result. IOW, don’t worry about how it matches the raw wood, plan foe the final look.

I also often use wax color sticks after applying the stain but before applying the finish. You can usually get a good color match – even if you have to mix a couple of them.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 4294 days

#2 posted 05-18-2011 09:13 PM

I have used Famowood and Fix Wood patch extensivly for years, and had pretty good luck with both brands.
I only switched between the two beacause of my suppliers. They both come in several colors and tend to take a stain OK. Of course, the less you use the better off you are.

I too have used the wax like Sawkerf mentioned. Be very careful as it is not compatable with some finishes.
I tried it under lacquer once—-A big no-no . Wax under lacquer will not work. A lot of other finishes are probably alright—-just test it first.


View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 4199 days

#3 posted 05-18-2011 09:30 PM

The only solution I can think of is to try a General Finish Gel Stain….
This application is suppose to sit on top of the wood as opposed to
soaking into the wood. Don’t know if it would work though.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1624 posts in 4573 days

#4 posted 05-19-2011 12:28 AM

I can’t help with staining but the best thing I have found to is mix sanding dust with whatever I plan to finish the project with. It matches perfectly and will age the same too. mixing dust with shellac works great too.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View peteg's profile


4436 posts in 3831 days

#5 posted 05-19-2011 12:29 AM

Roz, not sure if you are using a resin type filler on a linseed oil based putty filler as the brand mane dont mean a thing to us in NZ, if it is a putty filler I have used straight dye stains (or a gel stain) mixed with the putty first (remember to wear some plastic gloves or you willet in a hell of a mess,
you might just have to play a bit
I appreciate your problem, it is not always possible to fix from the reverse side or glue,
I am going to watch this one with interest, good post Roz

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View Roz's profile


1707 posts in 4794 days

#6 posted 05-19-2011 12:45 AM

Hey Peteg, I never considered mixing a gel stain into the putty. I could see getting the correct color shading still being a problem there. I have some that is a two part resin filler and some premixed with wood fiber in it but am not sure of it’s make up. Both have been sold in the States for many years and I try not to use them on furniture and other important project because of the staining problem.

Timbo, I never heard or mixing the sanding dust with the finish. I have been doing it with glue and getting a good result. I may have to try that.

I would really like to be able to effectively stain the commercial stuff when time is a factor for a finished job, as with this floor I have just done.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3850 days

#7 posted 05-19-2011 01:40 AM

I use Minwax stainable wood filler. It has worked well enough for most of my fixes. If I want something to be almost completely unoticeable though, I have found it best to use color matching fillers that I buy at a local Sherwin William’s store. They are kind of expensive. I buy them in very small batches so I don’t wind up with a bunch of unused.


View lightweightladylefty's profile


3606 posts in 4720 days

#8 posted 05-19-2011 05:31 AM


I’ve had some success with using a marking pen (similar to Magic Markers or Sharpies) on the wood filler in a close color to my stain before staining. Once the piece is stained, it seems to blend in pretty well. But . . . you need to try it on a sample piece with the stain over it to make sure you get a good match. If you have an art store that carries markers in PMS colors, there is quite a selection from which to choose. I’ve also found that some brands of stain cover considerably better than others, depending on the color and the wood on which it is being used. (I can’t think of the brands off hand and I won’t be near my shop for a week or more to check. My memory isn’t the greatest and it’s not getting any better.) ;-(


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5254 days

#9 posted 05-19-2011 06:36 AM

Try timbermate, an Australian wood filler.It works great and is forgiveing as heck. It can’t freeze or dry out, It is forgiving as heck. Add water to it and you can reconstitute it and it is great stuff, mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4342 days

#10 posted 05-19-2011 03:38 PM

I am never satisfied when I try to match a filler to the wood, but when the wood has naturally occurring darker streaks or color defects, like dark brown, dark red or black, I find it easy to fill with that color. sometimes I have to reshape the defect a bit first to give it a natural look. This technique is not possible if your wood is even colored, but it is a really good solution if otherwise.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Roz's profile


1707 posts in 4794 days

#11 posted 05-20-2011 06:02 AM

Good tips all! I never considered the marking pens that LWL suggested or reshaping the defect as Stefang suggest but these are good tools to have in my box. The Timber mate sounds like a good solution but I don’t think I can get it here. The same is true for the Sherwin Williams putty that William suggest. It would mean a fifty minute drive but I may have to try it. I did not know about that product. I will have to look for the Minwax stainable filler too. Thanks to you all for your suggestions. Anything will be an improvement over what I am using now.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5254 days

#12 posted 05-24-2011 10:14 PM

Either Rockler or Woodcraft carry Timbermate, you could order it on line and have it delivered. They have numerous colors, walnut, maple, mahogany and many more, you can also mix, match or stain the white color they carry. This really is amazing stuff, you can even reconstitute the dust after sanding it. Just add water. They say it smells like clay, I think it smells like cow dung. But it works.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Roz's profile


1707 posts in 4794 days

#13 posted 05-27-2011 03:07 AM

Thanks Mike, I’ll look into it.l

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25917 posts in 4113 days

#14 posted 07-15-2011 04:34 AM

Hey Roz, recently I tried something that worked pretty good for a stained project. I typically use Bix stainable wood filler. It is a powder that you mix with water. But, on this walnut project that I am going to stain with walnut stain, I tried mixing the powder with the stain for the job and it worked pretty good. The only drawback is that you have to let it set a day for the stain to completely dry before sanding. You don’t want to gum up the sandpaper with wet putty. For some imperfections that I don’t catch before finishing, I use the colored filler pencils and they blend in pretty good.

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Roz's profile


1707 posts in 4794 days

#15 posted 07-15-2011 07:42 AM

Thank you Jim, I will remember this and look for the Bix wood filler.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

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