Fix it or trash it?

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Project by maplerock posted 09-15-2013 08:15 PM 2763 views 2 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I learned a lesson this week. It takes no longer to work with good wood than it does to work with flawed wood. I had a piece of what I thought was nice walnut. After assembly and during sanding I realized it was brittle. There are several spots where the wood chipped out while being sanded with an orbital sander.

So I have several questions… at this point would you try to repair this? If so, how? Would you use glue & sawdust? A commercial filler?

It’s a pretty nice looking box (hasn’t been finished at all yet) so should I take the time to try to fill these flaws? Or should I finish it as is and give it away?

I could just keep it in the shop and put tape measures and pencils in it like my good friend Boxguy. I’d love to hear what you guys do when you have a substantial flaw in a project after putting in lots of time.

From now on if the wood is questionable it will be used for splines or cannibalize for the good parts.
Anyway, tips on fixing the flaws would be appreciated. Thanks!

-- Jerry... making sawdust in the Knobs of Southern Indiana

24 comments so far

View darkone's profile


65 posts in 3038 days

#1 posted 09-15-2013 08:33 PM

Sounds like a good opportunity to practice some repair techniques. If it turns out bad, not too much loss but you can figure out what works and what doesn’t in case you have a problem on a one of a kind piece.

View jaykaypur's profile


4017 posts in 3490 days

#2 posted 09-15-2013 08:46 PM

I’d fix it…someway. Like darkone said…...practice opportunity.

-- Use it up, Wear it out --------------- Make it do, Or do without!

View jbschutz's profile


613 posts in 3773 days

#3 posted 09-15-2013 08:51 PM

Try making a little chip to fill the biggest area. Then, if you can gather enough coarse sawdust from the chipped wood, mix it with poly varnish and fill the offending areas. If you fill with a mix of glue and sawdust, it will show when finish is applied. I have seen some pretty good cover-ups using this technique.

-- jbschutz

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3772 days

#4 posted 09-15-2013 09:30 PM

Timbermate Grain Filler (walnut) would be the quickest and easiest fix but won’t be a perfect match.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View robscastle's profile


7878 posts in 3286 days

#5 posted 09-15-2013 09:30 PM

That’s a nice box and worth keeping, you could leave it as is or repair it using any of the LJs suggestions.

After checking out your pictures I have a question,

Have you made the box upside down?

-- Regards Rob

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 3519 days

#6 posted 09-15-2013 10:23 PM

Yeah, that bottom looks to great to be hidden.

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View maplerock's profile


529 posts in 2882 days

#7 posted 09-15-2013 11:16 PM

Thanks everyone. Haha Robert- it is very pretty. It is a piece of veneer that I was playing with. I like it too. I need to try it as a box top. I’m still playing with methods to glue up veneer. I have been using titebond with clamps. It looks like it works, I just hope it holds up over time.

and wow… when I click on the zoom feature it really makes the flaws even more hideous! Like looking in one of those lighted magnifying make up mirrors!

-- Jerry... making sawdust in the Knobs of Southern Indiana

View jeffswildwood's profile


4890 posts in 3059 days

#8 posted 09-15-2013 11:18 PM

I have had to correct problems such as this before. If it was mine, I would fix it. Wood filler is nice or using a chip to fill the gaps then sand smooth. No way would I trash such a beautiful box. I bet corrected and finished anyone would love to receive it as a gift! ( including me!) Or we always need a box for our “special tools”. But no way would I trash it.

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way that says "I meant to do that".

View pintodeluxe's profile


6377 posts in 3895 days

#9 posted 09-15-2013 11:31 PM

The one by the hinge, I would just sand out the best you can. For the other one, I would d a little relief carving there. Then make another matching one on the other side. You could add texture to the depression, and it might look really nice.

Otherwise, you could enlarge the spline, and install another spline.
Perhaps make them dovetail keys to remove more of the walnut material?
I would not try to fill the divots, that never ends well.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4390 days

#10 posted 09-16-2013 12:22 AM

Get your carving tools out and make a sculpted box…Carve the flaws right out of it.simple solution and good practice.

View sedcokid's profile


2738 posts in 4680 days

#11 posted 09-16-2013 12:52 AM

I certainly wouldn’t trash it. I agree with all the suggestions they have great ideas! Try one…...

Thanks for sharing!!

-- Chuck Emery, Michigan,

View MedicineMan's profile


108 posts in 3549 days

#12 posted 09-16-2013 12:55 AM

Great box. I use CA glue and fine sawdust of the same wood. I bet you can match it up just fine. Too nice a box to give up on it. Thanks for posting.

View hoss12992's profile


4180 posts in 2975 days

#13 posted 09-16-2013 02:45 AM

Great job on the box. Love the contrasting of the woods. I have had this problem in the past. On some, I put a decortive but small inlay, like the one by the hinge, but do it on both sides. Another trick I do, which prolly sounds really weird, but it helps to hid imperfections and strengthen the questionable wood, is I use a good, clear epoxy as the finish on the outside, and tung oil on the inside. I makes the finish look thicker, like a pour on finish, and really helps to hid smaller imperfections. I def would keep the box. The craftsmanship is top notch, and is something to be proud of and anybody would be proud to have this.

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View David LaBolle's profile

David LaBolle

216 posts in 3753 days

#14 posted 09-16-2013 03:00 AM

I’d take it to my belt sander and remove enough material all around that the chip damage is completely gone. You will end up with thinner walls and a flawless finish.

-- When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 2906 days

#15 posted 09-16-2013 10:34 AM

What a beautiful box Jerry, flaw and all. The box is that beautiful the flaw is canceled out…excellent work.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

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