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Wood glue vs Hide Glue

Pretty much what Airguy said with some stuff added. Did not see his post before I finished typing this but I ain't gonna delete mine anyhoo. More info is far better IMO and IME then less. So there.

Before I would go to a filler, I, personally would try this.

If I was sure that the hole was a nail hole and not drilled or gouged out where wood was removed, I would put water in the hole and steam it. Nails or in your case staples don't remove wood, they simply displace it and even if the hole does not disappear you are gonna draw a lot of wood fibers into the hole which is a good thing IMO and IME. If you still got a hole that ain't gonna be subtle then go to the filler. Try it a couple of time, putting in the water with an eyedropper and then a damp rag over it and an iron or a steamer. I would recommend any type of open flame. Heat guns are OK.

When you are making your own filler, glue and sawdust is great except that PVA glues, like yellow or white wood glues won't take a color, stain or dye, so you gotta color the sawdust first to minimize the difference in the color of the patch vs the surrounding wood. Even then the glue itself is gonna be the color of the glue and not the color of the wood. They also have solvents in them that spread to the surrounding wood and can make the patch area even larger. Operative word is can.

Look at the widgeon post on this thread. He recommends not putting the filler in until after one coat of the topcoat. Right on! The topcoat will minimize the chances of the solvents spreading and also will give you something to "color" to for matching. Ain't 100% but fixing stuff like that or scratches or gouges is an art not a science.

There is another glue to consider though and pointing that out is the purpose of my post.

That glue is hide glue. Yup the stuff made from animules. Since it is a natural glue it will take a stain or a dye, unlike the PVA stuff which are synthetics. That means, in a lot of cases you can color over any overflow and get a decent match. Comes in a kinda light brown and in a darker brown and Titebond makes the best. Will match, in strength, almost any consumer PVA product, if that means anything which it don't much here though. Only need the smallest bottle you can find and is sold at box stores like Lowe's, Home Depot and I think Sears. Maybe even Walley World but not sure there. Shelf life sucks though and after 6 months or so you should really throw it away. I make my own from flakes for my woodworking projects and only make enough for the project I am working on. It is the only glue I use on furniture projects.

What you do is take the bottle, plastic, and put it in a small pot with just enough water so's the container floats and heat the water slowly until the glue container is just hot enough so that you gotta take it easy picking it up. This will thin the glue quite a bit. If for some reason it don't float then simply add enough water to get about 1/4" below the neck. Make my own hide glue so don't have a bottle to test but I am pretty sure it will float.

Squirt some on a piece of paper or whatever and if it is still thick, like STP, then let it warm up some more. Should start to flow out as soon as you tilt the bottle with very little or even no squeezing.

Mix your sawdust with that and put it in the area you need to fix. It is sawdust to a drop of glue, not a drop of glue to sawdust. Unless you have mixed your own fillers a bunch, there is a real tendency to add way more of the glue than you need and you end up adding more sawdust etc. until you get a big glob of stuff. Mixing with a toothpick is great for small projects. Good for getting into small areas also. My personal favorite touch ups but that is just me. If you want to put the filler on after a single topcoat then you should color the sawdust before you add the glue and add the filler to the stock.

Will start to setup like really quick, maybe 6-10 minutes. Need to get everything ready but it it starts to set up you can get to amalgamate and rest with steam. Let dry overnight and you can sand etc. etc. A little practice, even without the sawdust on a piece of scrap wood is a very good idea so's you can get a feel for the timing on the hot hide glue. Hide glue is also "its own clamp" which means it will draw the wood fibers together by itself. Good for scratches etc.

Should always save sanding dust if you can but even if you forgot you can either sand again with dry automotive wet/dry sanding paper, like 400 grit and get a bunch. Dry is the name of the game. Sand of some newspaper and then brush the stuff into some type of small container. 35MM opaque containers that you can get for free at places that still develop 35MM film work good for that. If you don't want to resand but want sanding dust you can generally sand some scrap wood and get enough. Need more than you will figure cause the stuff really compresses.

I am gonna add my opinion on blending in stuff like this base on experience.

The biggest problem I see when people patch scratches that are too deep to sand out without screwing up the contours of the wood, or holes etc. etc. etc. is not so much the filler but the texture of the filler. Generally fillers are either pretty smooth or somewhat "pebbly" in which case they are designed to be sanded down.

If you "faux" grain em they blend much better into the surrounding area. Number of ways to do that. For pores, you can take a nail, and mash down the pointy to a flat end and sand it file it or whatever to a kinda rounded elliptical point, not sharp like a knife blade, and with a little trial and error on some scrap wood you got a punch that will dent in the wood pretty close to the pore patterns of the surrounding area. You just lightly tap in the Faux pores or "dents".

For grain you can do the same thing except you need a sharper point and you scratch it in.

I got piles of these things I made over the years and assuming I can remember where I put em use one or the other as needed.

The whole idea is to make a smooth surface look like a surface with depth. When you add the color that are in reactive topcoats, the "dents/scratches" etc. will hold more of the color in those types of topcats and tend to camouflage the difference in textures.

The other problem with commercial fillers is that you end up with a bunch of partial cans of those things that you ain't never gonna use again most of the time. Shelf life on that stuff is not good either. IMO and IME, colored sawdust is the way to go if you can.

No matter what you do you are still gonna be able to see it. Especially since it is your weapon and you did the work. The trick is to see it less.

Good luck.

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