View Full Version : Filling Small Screw Holes in Interior Teak Joinery
Have searched the archives looking for a nice technique to fill small screw holes in salon teak joinery. These are small screws, no larger than #6 or #8, and seem to be too small to justify a 3/8" bung. I found several posts suggesting DAP Plastic Wood Filler with stain. Have tried other wood putties on teak, and they just did not look good, even with staining. Any other good tricks besides the DAP? Pure epoxy curing to amber color matching varnish? Epoxy mixed with teak sawdust? Teak dowels (but where can I find them small enough? Thanks for any advice.
03-01-2009, 09:34 AM
From the question, I take it these holes were from something that was not countersunk. If counter sunk, you'll need to invest in a small bung cutter and go that route. But if it's just little screw shaft holes, I've done this.
While in general dowls show badly, being end grain and all that, such small holes will take something the size of a match stick rather well. The process is a bit like making trennels.
With a froe or knife or whatever it's easy to split out sticks a bit thicker than you need. Unlike making trennels, which being much thicker are robust and can be made in long lengths and cut after, for filler sticks I lop the basic stock into lengths a bit longer than the bottom out depth of the hole to be filled.
Anyway, take the roughly square section splits and push them through a hole you've drilled in a bit of plate iron. This will round the piece, so make the hole about the size of the hole to be filled. Go for a tight fit.
With your knife, slice a bevel in the end of each stick to make it easy to insert, get it started, and tap it home with a light mallet. No need for glue and goo, though a little waste varnish will not go wrong. The little bit of endgrain sticking up will do no harm.
03-01-2009, 09:35 AM
You might check with Jamestown Distributors for a smaller counter bore bit and bung maker for 1/4" or so. I have one that I've had for years and can only remember buying from them back than.
03-01-2009, 09:44 AM
Plug cutters come in all sizes. Fuller makes 1/4-inch ans 5/16-inch plug cutters that work well for small screws. Plugs are about the only thing I can recommend to get a good looking job. Dowels should be avoided because of the grain orientation. Plugs should be cut from the face or edge surface that matches the surface to be plugged.
If the screws were not properly countersunk, you can remove them a few at a time, do a proper countersink job, reinstall the screws, and glue in the plugs. Orient the plug grain to match the surface grain.
03-01-2009, 09:58 AM
One thing that you might try if you are going to varnish the teak, and are a real succour for punishment. Fill with a good filler that matches the palest colour of the teak, and then use watercolour and a fine brush to fake the grain. I have done this on varnished softwood house doors. Try it on a piece of scrap to get the colours right first (goes without saying really).
03-01-2009, 11:35 AM
Little screw holes are a mental, but not a physical challenge. Nick suggests a technique I would use for nail and screw holes, but I probably wouldn't go to the trouble of the tromp l'oeil if the hole were below a certain size. . Rather than try to fill them with wood, or make them bigger by expanding them for a plug, try matching filler. I don't use DAP, but then, I don't stain teak or the filler either. Even a properly colored crayon can make a decent eye fooler. If you do use a wax based filler (Woodcraft sells them in all colors if you want to try those) make sure you clean all the wax off the surrounding wood. Varnish will not lay down properly over wax, but for filling a small hole, there won't be a problem with the varnish skinning over as long as you get the residue off the surrounding area. The nice thing about these fillers is that they don't change color under varnish. They do have a tendency to crater but by the time you get a good build of finish on, that tends to be invisible.
Then lay down your finish and don't dwell on the hole.
Once you get a good build of varnish over the hole, you will find it doesn't catch your eye anymore. It's the nature of these things to take damages and holes over time, and it's my opinion that the cure is frequently worse than the disease. You know.....less is more. It's a question of esthetics. By the way, there is a tromp l l'oeil artist here in Seattle who can fix any hole or ding to the point of perfect invisibility. If it really bothers you, learning Nick's trick would make sense. If it doesn't, fill and move on.
On exteriors, you need to plug or fill with a different view in mind.
03-01-2009, 11:59 AM
Hide the affected area with new timber.
Excuse me Lew, but, what does "tromp l'oeil", mean?
03-01-2009, 12:25 PM
"Fool the eye" or something like that.
When repainting the sanctuary of our church the painters somehow managed to peel a fair sized chunk (bigger than a breadbox) of veneer off part of the woodwork. Matching with new, the old piece was somehow lost, seemed unlikely and the paint contractor painted the wound to match,fakeing the grain and all. It was above eye lever and you couldn't run your hand over it to feel the indentation.
It fools the eye.
03-01-2009, 01:09 PM
That's correct, Tom. "Trick the eye." It's a decorator term. The art was widely practiced in the days when labor and fine art were connected in the building trades. In practice today it gets employed in making wood grain impressions in plaster, creating relief and shadow effects on a flat wall, dappled finishes, or as a repair of the type we're discussing. You'd be amazed at how many fine hotel lobbies have marvelous fake wood and relief in their ceilings. It's considered fine decorating in it's own right when done on a large scale.
My wife does a reasonable impression of certain tromp l'oeil techniques. She was an art major in school and has some painting tricks. As far as I know, it's the easiest (and probably only) way to do a truly seamless repair for these types of boo boos.
But as I said, for me, it's usually not worth the trouble. Another "French" word to remember in these cases: "Patina!" Or is that Latin? :D
03-01-2009, 01:21 PM
In art conservation work, I often need to fill a small hole or ding. The easiest way to do this is to use what are known as burn in sticks that are available from a variety of suppliers. Basicaly it is colored sealing wax in stick form that is heated with the tip of a soldering iron and knifed into the hole while the wax is still hot. Once cool it can be sanded off using a special solvent to aid in the process. Color matches can be made to match the sorrounding wood. False graining can be added to further disquise the patch. I purchase my finishing products from Mohawk Supply Co. but there are many others. Here is a web site that will give you some infor on other dealers as well as the techniques involved.
03-01-2009, 02:39 PM
It sounds like Jay has refined my homespun approach to the point of an art. Of course he has. He's Jay, while I'm still only Lew!:D I don't usually heat the wax with an iron; I never thought of that. But I could see how that would be a big help; the wax sticks can be a bit hard and "crumbly" to start with, and I learned to use this material on my own recogniscence. I just hold the stick in my hand until it gets soft enough to work, rub it over the hole a bunch of times and then clean it off by scraping, sanding, followed by a solvent wash. If it's over an existing varnish finish, it's a lot easier to clean off.
Great ideas all! What a wealth of information, leaving me many options. I truly appreciate this forum taking the time to help me out! My thanks again.
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