Disappearing Gap Fill

IMG_5028Nobody has super-tight fitting joints all the time, so when you run into this situation, there’s a quick fix for small gaps – and we’re not talking about the Samaria Gorge on the island of Crete or the Wiamea Canyon on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Larger gaps, which for the most part should be non-existent, are best be filled in with pieces of matching wood. Select pieces that are close in color, and the grain should be aligned as best it can.

To many woodworkers this is a well-known fix, but I often meet those who are amazed at the way it works. Discussions often center on what is used to fill the gaps.  Some suggest using shellac, but I’m a fan of ordinary yellow glue – or better yet, the glue you’re using to build your project.

All you do is smear glue into the gap, then sand the spot to bring up wood dust that fills the sticky opening. It’s easily demonstrated in the photos below. The opening photo is the result of all that hard work. (Remember that all photos enlarge if you click on them.)


— Glen D. Huey

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4 thoughts on “Disappearing Gap Fill

  1. Won’t that be very noticeable once you apply some kind of finish to it since the saw dust will be sealed by the glue? I am just asking since the only time I tried it that is what happened to me. Now I take some saw dust from some scraps of the same wood and fill the small crack and then apply some shellac to it. I treat just that area and then once dry I sand it totally flush. So now the question is what did I do wrong before and which method would be better?

    1. Wade,
      I think this is where the idea of being a small gap comes into consideration. I’ve filled more than a few areas like these on my projects throughout the years. I’ve not noticed any problems when finishing. Even the apple carrier – on which the corner shown in the post is located – didn’t show anything when it was oiled. Larger filled areas need a different approach. I can see, however, a possibility of some discoloring if you’re dyeing a project, especially if the gap is larger. But a clear finish should not be a problem.

  2. I’ve taken to saving sanding sawdust varieties in pill bottles (something which I have a lot of). If I find a gap, grab the correct pill bottle and push some appropriate dust into the crack with a cut off coffee stirrer. when its packed tight, add a drop of super glue. Wait 10 minutes and sand. Repeat if gap is not completely filled. I find the sanded super glue doesn’t interfere with a finish, usually use Watco, as much as PVA glue.

  3. I do the same thing as Jim Harvey. The oscillating spindle sander is a great place to collect fine dust. I put it in small labeled containers. However, I use two part epoxy mixed on a piece of cardboard and add dust to that, mixing it in with a stirrer. Patch small gaps and sand. This seems to take dye fine.
    I learned this from Chuck Bender, BTW.

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