Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How to fix dried up wood filler.

Wood filler is great for filling in gaps- cracks- and filling in countersunk holes. But sometimes, we leave the lid off and  it dries up and can not be used. Essentially, all wood filler is glue and sawdust mixed together.

My favorite is this one:

Elmer's wood filler 

But here is what happens when the lid is left off overnight:
(sorry my pics are so bad- I think I had something on my phone lens)

Dried up crumbly wood filler. 
Don't throw it away! Resurrect it!

Here's how:

First, I used my "insta-hot" water filler to add about 2 tbsp hot water to the container.

If you don't have an "insta-hot" you can boil 2 tbsp water and add it. Don't add cold water. The point is to turn the filler back into a "hummus" like texture, cold water won't get the crumbles to move. 

Bad pic- sorry!

Then take a paint stirrer- or knife or scrap piece of wood and scrape and stir the crumbles with the water. 

Scrape dry pieces from side and stir.
Then- Put the container in the microwave and microwave for about 1 minute. Don't walk away watch it through the glass!

Microwave it until small bubbles start to form. Don't let it boil over onto the microwave plate!

Then stir, stir, stir. You want the consistency of hummus or a tiny bit thicker.



See back to the way it was?

Now get back to work!

You are welcome. Happy Building!



  1. Thank you! Just saved me a trip to the store and paying for another container of filler.

    :))) Brilliant!

  2. going to try this tomorrow - glad I saved my old dried up filler! thanks.

  3. Tried it - but did not work. The filler did not adhere; the water spread around the gap & left a stain. However sawdust mixed with wood glue should do the trick.

    1. If you had water in it, you probably didn't mix it enough. I jumped off from this idea (my filler was completely dried out to the point of a chisel almost being useless to break it apart) and while I had to use a bit more water and time in the microwave, it not only brought it back to proper consistency it adhered exactly as it should have. I used it immediately to fill in screw holes in a bookshelf I was making.

    2. Thanks so much! After I mixed it up I used my trusty kitchen hand mixer to make it smoother :-). I suppose it's not really kosher, but it's metal - it washes! Clean! Put the putty in a plastic jar, covered with plastic wrap, and screwed the lid down tight. Hopefully it will stay soft for a few small projects!

  4. It worked like a charm! Thanks for the great tip! :-)

  5. Thank you so much! I almost discarded a full container because the lid was not on tight. I had to add more boiling water to get it to work because it was more to work with. I also made sure to transfer the contents to a glass jar and covered it with plastic and a tight screw on lid. Thanks again for sharing.

  6. I had a large full container that was dried out, I threw it away yesterday. I ran across your video today, I took it out of the trash and tried to bring it back to life. It worked like a charm and the microwave did all the work for me. Thank you very much for the info, you saved me $11-12 bucks.

  7. Its All About the RufflesJanuary 8, 2017 at 3:20 PM

    I'm all for saving money. Thank God for the "Google". and yes I know it's not called the Google and Google is just the search engine. But that's what so great about being your own person. You can act a fool and not care. But what I do care about is keeping stuff out of land fill and ground water. So I call this remedy a triple threat to pure waste. Got to love it.

  8. This saved my hyde big time
    My father let me borrow his wood filler to fix the door I punched holes through
    With big scissors (rage issue, long story) but he forgot to tell me the stuff is in chunks.
    This definitely saved me the hassle, thank you! lol

  9. thanks just tried elmers white wood filler with boiling hot water then microw all in container it worked

  10. It does not work for me. I can make a dry-out wood filler muddy again by adding hot water and microwaving, no problem for this part. But after applying the renewed filler and let it dry, it is very soft and will break into powder easily when you squeeze a dry peace of it. Not the same thing as the original. Totally waste of the time.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. This method may only work with fillers that are waterbase. I read another article where rubbing alcohol or turpentine is recommended. Not sure how you know which method to try. Last night I used denatured alcohol with 2 different types of fillers. It worked for one & did not work for the other. Not sure why. I recommend looking up this other method.
      Does anyone know if there are different types of fillers where water would work better vs the alcohol method?

    3. Water based and oil based. You can tell the difference between the two by smell. Oil based will have a chemical smell, where water based does not have an odor. Oil based can also be reconstituted with acetone. I have used acetone in the past and it worked well.


  11. Wow…outstanding service and products to meet our office needs. I Love all and the colors you choose are perfect. I want this furniture for my new house. Thanks a lot for sharing
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  12. Works for me. Just revived a tub container which was too thick to use. Thanks. I have for years added Acetone to DAP Plastic Wood cans because it shows this instruction on the panel. Acetone is tough smelling stuff.

  13. thank you so much it help a lot

  14. I don't have a microwave (small space, no room, etc....). Any suggestions for what I might do alternatively? Sure glad I didn't dump that old dried out container!

  15. Why did you delete my comment? I wasn't trying to be negative or insult you. I tried your method and it worked perfectly however, It is true that some types of fillers don't breakdown with water. I even checked with a construction worker friend of mine. Elmers is water-based, so water will work with it. But others are not, so you can apply the same method, but need to use denatured alcohol. I just thought your readers should know that your method is right on and why it may not have worked for them. with this knowledge, they may be less apt to complain/wine that your method doesn't work. I tried it. Its awesome and I appreciate that you posted it. No ill will, but I thought you should understand my intent.

  16. This worked like a charm with dried out Elmer's wood filler. Although I did start the process with tap water, unsuccessfully, before finding your method. Then the microwaving - at low power - did the trick.
    Thanks for posting this.

  17. I just did it and it worked out great! tysm :)

  18. I just did it and it worked out great! tysm :)

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  20. Thank you it works wonderfully