Fixing Common Woodworking Mistakes


– [Marc] The Wood
Whisperer is sponsored by Powermatic and Clear Vue Cyclones. Okay so today, we’re going to
talk about fixing mistakes. Not that I ever make them. ♫ Hit it ♫ (lively music) For other people who make mistakes you may want to know how to fix them so you could advice them
on how to make their errors not as visible. Here’s the thing about mistakes, honestly, we all make them and you’ve probably heard the
saying that a good woodworker, the sign of a good
woodworker is his ability or her ability to fix mistakes. It’s not that you don’t make them, you just know how to fix them
so that people don’t see them. There are times where you
have to have a do over so there are some
mulligans in woodworking. But I would say about 99%
of the mistakes that happen are fixable and repairable
to a level that your client or whoever you’re giving it to, they will never even see it. If you’re going to repair mistakes, there are a couple of things
that you’re going to need, your best friends. Number one, CA glue,
cyanoacrylate glue, super glue, whatever you want to call it and then also this is essential. Super glue does dry quickly but not as fast as I want it to and I use a quick set activator. Most of this come with, if you buy one brand of the glue, you usually have the
same brand that they sell aerosol activator and that allows the glue
to cure up immediately. If you’re holding a small piece in place little dab will do you,
spray the activator on there and then it’s just immediately dry. CA glue is essential. A good quality filler, Timbermate is my favorite brand of filler very effective, doesn’t shrink, comes in a lot of good colors, and those colors are a
fantastic match for the woods that they’re supposed to match. You’ll also want an iron. – [Nicole] Where did you get that? – The store. (lively music) Let’s say you’re routing a workpiece and you get a little bit of tearout in the middle of the workpiece. As you’re going along you
just hear that sort of sound that no woodworker likes to hear is that “crank” as you’re routing. That means you lost a big chunk. If you can save the chunk, great because you’re going to use it, we’ll do that in a little bit. If you can’t save the chunk, sometimes the only thing that makes sense is to use a filler and that’s the example that I’ve got here. Take a look at this piece, so we actually have two
and I know this is maple so it’s going to be a little
bit difficult for you to see but where my finger is
here, that’s one that’s got the filler placed in it already. So we’ll use that in a
second to fast forward but right here you may not
be able to see that too well but there’s a gouge,
pretty good size gouge. What I’m going to do is
use Timbermate maple beach and pine flavor, pop that lid off. This is water based by the way and as it dries up, how many times have you
bought a thing a filler and you’re going to open it up and it’s completely cured, right? What a pain in the butt. This stuff is water
based so if you do that and it’s cured because
the water evaporated, spray some water in there, put the lid on, come back in an hour
and it’s usable again. All I’m going to do is
grab a little bit of this good stuff here. Okay there’s my gouge, put that right in there. Now later we’re going to look
at a similar gouge like this and do a wood repair but right now I just
want to focus on filler. Now I don’t use filler all that often but there are just
times where it really is the most sensible solution. So you want to overfill
of course like that, make sure there’s enough in
there and then let it dry. It’s water based, it does dry fast but not fast enough for a demo. Let’s look at the one
that’s already filled. I’m just going to sand it back. If you look at the color match here, this is what I love about
Timbermate and we’re zoomed in. Obviously that’s going to
be a lot more noticeable when you’re zoomed like
this but once it’s finished this stuff does take
stain and you pull back and you look at this whole leg as a whole you’re not
really going to see that. I wish I had the right
colored pencil for this but I’ve done this in the past. One of the things that makes
filler not look so good is the fact that it
matches the background wood which it does pretty well here. What it doesn’t do is it
doesn’t gives us those fine grain lines that run through it so if it’s a really big flaw like this probably
isn’t that big of a deal but if it was a larger surface area, if you get a colored pencil
that’s closely matched to the color of the grain lines, you can actually trace
those grain lines in. Now I’ll tell you what, this is a colored pencil I
stole from my son’s playroom. It’s not the right color but
if you go to the craft store you could pick up some
really, try to get one that’s as soft as possible and get them in a range
of browns, all right. Then basically look at where
the grain starts and stops and you can actually try to
carry that grain line through however looks natural. Believe it or not, again
not the right color so it stands out a little
more than I would want it to but if you pull back and look at that, that actually will help disguise this and make it look like real wood. The key though is you got to quickly put a fast drying finish on that or the pencil will just kind of wipe off. Just a little bit of shellac or lacquer probably isn’t a bad idea
for something to seal that color in. (lively music) How about a misplaced mortise? Has that ever happened? It’s never happened to me but I’ve heard it happens to people so the
key with something like this is to simply fill it, right. You’ve got a hole, you need to fill it. The problem is a lot of
people make the mistake of thinking “Well, all right
let me cut a little piece,” because you would have
a tenon going in there so let me cut the tenon and put the grain running this way. The problem is if you do that, you’re going to have
end grain showing here so it’s going to be a lot more noticeable than if you do a long grain joint. I just basically cut
some scrap, sized it down so that it would fit nice and snug and then I also taper the ends. A lot of people may have
trouble getting this piece cut perfectly so there’s no gaps. Don’t worry about cutting it perfectly, cut it about a 16th of an inch oversized, grab a piece of sandpaper and just give yourself a little angle on both sides. Little bit of a taper and that’s going to allow me
to coat this sucker with glue. I’m doing this very quickly, bit of rush. Like this, of course you’d want glue
in the mortise as well. Put it in and because you
have those ends tapered as I hammer this down it’s
going to take up the slack on the outside edges. It’s really is just a
superficial repair, all right it’s not a structural thing so
as long as I don’t see gaps, I’ll be happy. All right, so you would
let the glue dry on that and then you will just plane
it flush with the surface. There’s one that I’ve
already done, it’s in place, probably wasn’t as careful
with it as I should have been so I’m just going to grab a block plane just clean that up a little bit. Okay, and that is a pretty acceptable
repair in my opinion. In fact if you didn’t know that I did that and you just looked at that piece, you probably wouldn’t know
that it even happened. Now if my mortise is in the wrong spot, I could relocate my mortise. Even if part of the new mortise, a lot of times that is what happens, you’re just a little bit offset so your new mortise will go
into part of this repair, that’s fine. It’s solid wood, it’s
going in the same direction as the rest of our leg. If we route into it, there won’t be any associated
problems with it, right? So that’s a great way to
fix your misplaced mortises. (lively music) Let’s say you got a little bit of chipout. Maybe you’re doing some edge routing and I got a piece of tape here just because I didn’t
want to lose the piece. Here’s the thing,
whenever you have chipout, if you can recover the piece and a lot of times you’ll be on your knees with a magnifying glass looking for it because finding the chipped
out piece saves you a ton of time and effort because that piece is already perfectly cut to
fill the void of the chipout. Right now just so you know this I created with a chisel so I gouged in
here and then flaked it out. So it’s not exactly the
same thing you would see but you get the idea. This is a good use for CA glue but if you look real close here, that is a dead on match for the fit right and that’s why you want to
find this piece if you can. Let’s put a little bit
of CA glue on there, by the way CA glue comes in a
couple different viscosities, different thicknesses. I like medium and gel for error repairs. Occasionally I do have a
calling to use the thin stuff but man is that stuff watery. Not great for repairs in my opinion. Okay, so I could just
put this guy in place if I want to, like this. Now a lot of people will put
the activator on the other end, I don’t want to do that
because I want to make sure this gets a lot of pressure. The glue gets distributed and then I could use my activator. Okay, so I’ll use something like little putty knife like this put some diagonal pressure down and just hit it with a
little bit of the activator. Now you’ll definitely have
a little bit of squeeze out to contend with but that
could easily be sanded or chiseled away. Normally I’d give it a couple
more minutes to cure out but you would sand it nice
and smooth and look at that. It’s a repair on top of a repair, let’s pretend that didn’t
happen, can we do that? Give it a little sanding. All right so there will be no visible line when it’s all set and done
because it’s lock and key, it fits in perfectly. (lively music) There are times where you’re not going to recover this
piece, you can’t find it. That is what this example represents here. Right at the corner, just nothing really you could do about it. All right, popped right out, now you’re cursing, you’re very upset. Sometimes in order to fix a mistake you actually have to
make the problem worse so what I’m going to try to do is actually turn this into a
surface that I can work with. Right now it’s useless to me but I want to take a piece
of scrap and glue it in place and I need a nice flat area to do that so you can do it with a
chisel or you can use a plane. I’m not left handed so
this may not go so well. Once you have a nice flat
surface we now have something we can work with by taking
another piece like this. Now you may use yellow glue if you have a way to clamp this securely but once again CA glue is my hero. For this one, I’m going to put
the glue on the work piece. Okay, a little bit of
glue on the work piece, quick set activator, spread it around a little bit, you only have a couple of seconds. That’s good, now this is
just a big old chunk of scrap I had laying around. You probably would want to size this down to be a little bit more
appropriately sized for this because now I’ve got a
lot of material to remove and that becomes a lot of work but I typically with a smaller piece could then come back to this. I may very well knock this off and that’s why you don’t
have as much material here. If it’s a smaller piece you
don’t have as much to work and you could just kind
of pare away with a chisel or take light passes with a plane but I don’t know, let’s see what happens. If it comes off, it comes off, just to understand why. Notice how well that’s holding
just with that CA glue, all right and that’s why you could be a little bit more confident
in a repair like this that it’s going to be fine. – [Nicole] Go on. – Really, you want me to go? – [Nicole] Yeah, go on, I want to see it. – Nicole wants to see
it, I better go then. Let’s keep going. I was just trying to stop
while I was ahead here. – [Nicole] I want to see this. – Not the best match in terms of the grain but for a quick job it’s not too bad and of course we use a saw
to trim off the edge here. All together though we
made the problem worse to allow us to put a nice patch in and the results aren’t too bad. (lively music) A lot of times you drop a workpiece right? That can happen or you
drop something on it like “Oh my gosh, I dented my workpiece.” Here’s the great thing about a dent, a dent is nothing more
than compressed fibers. Unless the dent is so severe like that where you’ve actually separated fibers, you can actually get most
of this to spring back because you’ve effectively
just crashed fibers so we need to do something
that brings some life back, helps those fibers spread
apart a little bit. All right so I’ve got a light dent here, two side by side dents here and a really severe
dent that I don’t think is going to repair very well, this will be probably
more visible with water. Here’s the other one. I can barely see it myself right there. So I’m letting a little
bit of water sit on there while I prep a blue shop towel
or some kind of a wash cloth, whatever you have is fine,
just something absorbent that you can soak with water. What we’re going to do is steam the dents. Now we know that wood
expands with moisture right? And that it can expand
quickly if it’s hot moisture also known as steam. If we can very carefully
steam these dented areas, we may be able to get the
wood fibers to spread out and fill up that gap
and the dent goes away. Let’s do just that, I’m going to focus on some of these bigger ones here, I’m trying to remember where they all are. Sometimes by the way the water … It’s like straight from
treating right there, the water will in of
itself cause expansion even without the heat so you
may have trouble finding them because they’ve already expanded but there’s a good one right there let’s steam that bad boy. Now, if your board is really
thin, you have to be careful, too much moisture, too much heat you can actually cause a
little bit of warping to occur but usually on a big
solid piece you’re okay. You can also be a little
bit more careful than I am, I’m being very messy with
this by using the pinpoint tip of the iron and just kind of focusing in your flawed area. It’s not a bad idea but
for the sake of a demo I’m just kind of being sloppy. What are you doing honey? Ironing my wood. You can see we still have
that really severe dent right here. It’s a little bit better but like I said crashed fibers are one thing, fibers that actually get sever because it was such a deep impact that’s going to be a problem and that’s going to be
hard if not impossible to use the steaming method to get out but you can certainly make
it less of a big deal. Here I’ve got a little
bit left on this guy, I don’t know if you can
really make that out. This is also a pretty rough board so there’s a little bit of
material left right there that I didn’t get it to reform. Maybe a hair here just a
little bit barely detectable and I had a spot that was
over here fairly light dent that I can’t even find anymore. All of these with a little bit of sanding, so three light duty dents gone. This one on the other hand, if you could see is the wood fibers or the sanded dust fills that up, it’s a little bit too deep, but we can make it look
a little bit better. This is a technique that I
would use for light duty dents, not really heavy stuff. You can also use the
steaming technique on plywood if you need to. Plywood a lot of times even if
it’s a nice looking surface, just dragging it around
the tools and the shop where your workbench and the shop can put these
little hairline scratches on there and sometimes before I sand if it’s noticeable enough before
I give it my final sanding because you don’t want to sand plywood very aggressively right? A lot of times what you can do is do a little bit of the steam treatment on any noticeable scratches. Let the fibers in that top layer veneer puff up a little bit, they’ll get very rough
and then you could do your final sanding and a lot
of times that final sanding is a lot quicker and
easier and those mistakes or those little flaws just go away. Don’t be too aggressive
about it on plywood because you don’t want to
like reactivate the glue in the veneer layer, you don’t
want to warp the plywood, you got to be careful with it. For very noticeable surface flaws, you can spot treat them and
actually get a decent result. (lively music) Now one thing I’ll
address, a lot of people when they talk about
repairs, fixing repairs, they’ll talk about glue and wood dust. Take the dust of whatever
wood you’re working with, get a little bit of CA glue
or epoxy, mix it together and that can be a sufficient repair. That can work in some instances but I don’t really like it as a finish. The reason is because
this type of material … (compressor turns on) I need to turn off my compressor. It’s a real shot people. – [Nicole] We’re alive. – Yeah, doing real woodworking here. – [Nicole] You’re talking
about the CA glue. – Yeah, okay. The problem that I have
with that is CA glue, epoxy even type on, these
things don’t accept stains so even when you put on a clear finish, clear finish still imparts
a color change to the wood. If you’ve repaired a certain area then you hit it with finish or worse yet an actual stain, a lot of
times it becomes an eye sore. Even if you have the wood
fibers mixed with it, they’re not absorbed,
they’re just wood fibers in a liquid suspension. Now, and even with epoxy, a lot of times you look
really close at epoxy that’s been mixed with saw dust, look really close at it,
it just looks like saw dust suspended in a resin. So you have to be careful about
how and when you use that. Not sort of a different story because you could put a
little dye in an epoxy mix and you could fill a
knot and a lot of times knots are so darkly colored that if you use a clear
material to fill a little flaw, it actually will be hard to see, because it’s just showing
the dark color beneath it but hopefully that prepares
you for any mistakes, common mistakes you might confront. Maybe in the future like I said we’ll do an updated
version based on feedback. How do you repair this,
how do you repair that, but this should get you going
for some really basic repairs.

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