Woodworkers have a vast selection of wood fillers to choose from. Every paint store, lumber yard, or woodworking supply store sells wood fillers of one type or another. The most common arethe ready to use fillers. Sold in sizes from small squeeze tubes that hold a few ounces to pint cans. I prefer the pint cans as they offer the best value when considering the cost per ounce. I tried the water based fillers and became frustrated with the product drying out before it was used up. I switched to a solvent based filler with moderate success. I still encountered the putty drying out so I added a small amount of lacquer thinner to the can after each use. This reduced the waste considerably but I still could not use the entire can before it became too thick to use. I started buying my wood putty in smaller cans, which costs more per ounce and led to occasionally running out of filler.
In November 2010 our woodworking club, The Mid-Michigan Woodworkers Guild, was introduced to Timbermate. http://www.timbermategroup.com/ A water based wood filler from Australia, also called wood putty.
A representative from Timbermate gave the club a demonstration on the uses of Timbermate. He covered several points on how Timbermate can be used, including thinning it with water for different uses such as grain filling or for filling tiny cracks. It can be applied with a trowel or the traditional putty knife. It takes a stain well and sands very smooth. Other than thinning with water it looks and and acts like the wood filler that we all use. One bit of information that stood out in his presentation is, if Timbermate dries out, it can be reconstituted by adding water. No more waste. We hit the jackpot!! I am going to go out and buy every color that Timbermate makes and use nothing else.
But wait…maybe I should try this product first before spending money on all 13 colors. The Timbermate rep gave our club members a two ounce sample of the natural color. In an effort to give this product an honest review and see if it lives up to the claims put forth by Timbermate’s web site. I took the sample, after all who doesn’t like free samples.
I removed the top of the little plastic container and set it on a shelf next to my shop clock.
After two months here’s what I found .
The putty had dried to the point that I had to dig it out of the container nearly destroying the container in the process. I took the lump of hardened putty and added a small amount of water, kneading it and continuing to add small amounts of water until I had a creamy putty. I then tested the reconstituted filler on several small gouges and cracks on two different boards one Maple and one Walnut. Applying the filler with a putty knife, it spread nicely with no lumps. An hour later it was dry so I sanded it smooth and applied a coat of lacquer. It worked as advertised, now lets try it on some real projects.
Fast forward two years and dozens of projects later, including a custom Cherry kitchen. I found Timbermate’s wood filler to be an excellent choice. It preformed as advertised in most cases and excelled in others. I purchased several colors and white. This gave me the ability to mix the putty to a near perfect match before adding stain. In one case I ran into a snag trying to match Red Oak with just stain and the Natural base. After several unsuccessful attempts, I found it best to add stain to a colored base, in this case I used Spotted Gum/Southern Chestnut, then added small amounts of stain to the putty for a match. On jobs that were finished natural, I found it easy to mix different colors for an exact match.
A real time saver.
While preparing to finish a sofa table, I found a small ding that was missed during final sanding. Faced with re sanding the table and delaying the finishing, I decided to fill the imperfection. After mixing the putty to match, I filled the flaw and then took a small block of wood wrapped with a rag dampened with water. Using light strokes, I smoothed out the patch making it flush with the surface. In ten minutes it was dry with the help of a hair drier and proceeded to finish the table without additional sanding.
Could this be “It” when it comes to wood putty/filler? No, but it will be my first choice.