How to Repair Wood Damage with Bondo
Whether it’s home projects or you’re restoring a piece of furniture, Bondo is a really amazing tool you need in your arsenal. Let me tell you exactly how I repair wood damage with Bondo Wood Filler.
How Do You Repair Wood Damage with Bondo?
You can repair anything wood (and other surfaces) using Bondo. It is the master of filling gouges, scrapes, holes, and missing veneer. Achieve a seamless finish after sanding Bondo. It is extremely fast drying (in most applications dry and ready to sand within 15 minutes or less) so mixing small amounts at a time is best.
Take about 1/4 cup of Bondo and add 1/4 tsp. (eyeball approximation) and mix it thoroughly until it’s medium brown. The more hardener you add the faster it dries. You want to ensure you have enough time to work with it before it sets. Temperature also plays a part in drying time, hotter temps will increase the drying speed. So if it’s hot out, work fast. If it’s cold, you may have to wait longer (sometimes overnight) for a project to dry thoroughly. Overfill the area of damage so you can sand it flush and watch the damaged areas disappear. When it’s dry, sand it flat, clean it, and finish your project with paint or stain!
Bondo Makes it Easy to Repair Wood Furniture Damage
The first time I encountered a need to fill wood damage was on a dresser I was restoring. The previous owners had drilled several holes for hardware on each drawer and so I needed to fill all the holes. I had seen my dad use Bondo to repair old window sills and thought it was worth a try. In this instance caulk really wouldn’t work well and I didn’t have great success with typical wood fillers.
So I drove down to the hardware store and picked up my first can of Bondo. And since that first project, I’ll never look back. Wood filler definitely has its place, although if I’m painting I will always opt to use Bondo because it just works way better. Its lightning-fast drying time and seamless smooth finish have won me over for good. Plus, it’s just ridiculously easy to use. Anyone can do it.
If you like seeing furniture repair and refinishing check out my post How to Repair and Refinish a Thrifted Chair. I take you through the entire process of how I take an antique thrifted chair that I purchased for $2.50 and turn back the hands of time. Bonus, I did an entire video that’s also posted on that channel so you can see first hand.
Watch the Tutorial on YouTube
For Use with Missing Veneer
Occasionally I’ll get a project that has damaged veneer. Sometimes I opt to completely remove the veneer if it’s in bad enough shape, but there are many instances when it’s mostly intact.
Whatever is best for the piece and saves me time is how I choose.
To fix the veneer you want to
- Deal with any loose veneer pieces. Either chip off the loose pieces or glue them down before you move onto the next step.
- Mix your 2 part Bondo together thoroughly.
- Start your application process quickly. Working the bondo into all the missing areas.
- Smooth it and scrape it clean. Repeat until you have overfilled the areas.
- Sand it smooth and flush with the rest of the veneer surface. If you’ve missed any areas (feel with your hands) after sanding do the process of filling it in again.
- When it’s completely flush with the undamaged veneer you can prime and paint, chalk paint, or stain. (Bondo will stain a different color than some woods, so I usually opt to paint).
The General Process For Using Bondo to Repair All Wood Damage
In the last decade, I’ve used it on dozens of projects in my home as well as furniture projects. To give you an example, recently I started repairing major holes in my dining room door frame.
We had installed french doors several years ago and through everyday use, I discovered having the doors swing into the small room was not optimal. So, I asked my dad to help me turn them around which left the holes from the hinges as well as unevenness of the frame in general. I had inadvertently caused myself more work by installing faux shiplap without thinking the door frame part through.
I decided to try to use Bondo to repair it and make the entire surface smooth.
The one downfall is Bondo stinks. So, make sure you have proper ventilation when you’re working with it. And you have to work fast so when you’re having to cover a large area having to make small batches is a small annoyance. When you finish it’s totally worth the minor inconveniences.
The Process Photos of Mixing Bondo Wood Filler – All Purpose Filler is Pink-Tinted
- Start off with a paper plate and a metal scraper.
- With the scraper add about 1/4 cup of the brown filler to your plate.
- Then add a 1/4 tsp. (approx.) size of the red hardener.
- Working quickly you want to mix both of the parts together until you get a medium brown color.
- Then get to work filling in whatever wood damage you’re repairing.
- If anything you want it overly filled because you will sand it down. If it dries below the damage you will have to do a second coat of Bondo. Which occasionally does happen.
Remember to clean your scraper after use. Bondo will dry very hard, but you can scrape any large amounts off and then clean it with steel wool. I use Bon Ami and a Brillo pad to completely clean my tools off.
You can use a plastic scraper or putty knife, but I prefer metal because it is much easier to keep clean and reuse, making it a better investment.
How Does Bondo Work and What Can You Use It For?
When the filler and hardener are mixed, a reaction occurs which allows the filler to chemically bond to the surface for a permanent repair. The two-part wood filler cures quickly, making it easy to spread while adhering it to the surface you are repairing. For more advanced repairs, Bondo® Wood Filler can be applied in layers to rebuild rotted or missing pieces of wood. Unlike slower drying water- or solvent-based wood fillers that cure by evaporation, Bondo® Wood Filler chemically cross links to cure for a faster, more durable repair. As a result, Bondo® Wood Filler is water resistant and will not shrink. This saves money, saves time and helps create professional grade repairs that last.3M.com
The recommended applications are:
- Window sills
- Exterior wood trim such as door frames and jambs, soffits and fascia
- Fences and posts
- Garage doors
- Wood floors and stairs
- Exterior wood columns, doors and flower boxes
- Interior doors, baseboards, etc.
How Does Using Bondo Save You Money and Time?
Bondo enables you to fix things instead of having to replace them. Being able to use wood hardener to repair wood rot and then use Bondo wood filler to fill in all of the missing or damaged wood allows you to keep existing original wood. And many instances replacing that wood not only costs money, but it is also an extensive process that would take way longer.
For me, it has also been an answer to problems I have no idea how I would fix otherwise. Beyond completely tearing out my door frame and rebuilding it or ripping the shiplap off my walls, Bondo gave me the ability to simply hide my mistakes by covertly filling them in permanently. And once it’s painted no one will be the wiser. Which saves me time and money.
When it comes to furniture repair, again, it’s allowing you to salvage something beautiful and give it a new life vs. it becoming garbage. In this instance you can also make money by taking pieces other people are scared to touch, refinishing them, and reselling them. But for me, it’s about building my home by curating my furnishings one piece at a time on a very tight budget. If I can get a piece of victorian furniture for a fraction of the cost of buying new because it needs to be repaired, it’s a win.
Bondo allows me to furnish my entire house for pennies on the dollar by opening up opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise have. At a point, my entire living room was furnished for less than $60 because I was able to purchase furniture at a steep discount that wasn’t in the best shape at the time. I repaired it, restored it, and it goes to live on in my home.
I hope I’ve inspired you to use Bondo if you haven’t before. Or that I’ve given you some helpful tips on how you can use it in a future wood repair project.
Thanks for stopping by!
How to Use Bondo to Repair Wood Damage
Learn to quickly and efficiently use Bondo to repair damage to any wood surface.
- Bondo Wood Filler or
- Bondo All Purpose Filler
- Metal Scraper or Putty Knife
- Paper Plate
- Stir Stick
- Step One - Start off with a paper plate and a metal scraper.
- Step Two - Stir the Bondo with the stir stick.
- Step Three - Add about 1/4 cup of the brown filler to your plate.
- Step Four - Add a 1/4 tsp. (approx.) size of the red hardener.
- Step Five - Working quickly you want to mix both of the parts together using your metal scraper (or putty knife) until you get a medium brown color. (Creamy peanut butter color and texture)
- Step Six - Then get to work filling in whatever wood damage you're repairing. If anything you want it overly filled because you will sand it down. If it dries below the damage you will have to do a second coat of Bondo. Which occasionally does happen.
- Step Seven - Let it dry (15 minutes to 1 hour typically, depending on your conditions).
- Step Eight - Sand the area clear (wear a mask if you're indoors, the dust is very fine).
- Step Nine - Wipe clean with a damp rag to get any residual dust before you paint.
- The more hardener you add the quicker the Bondo will dry. Don't add too much, Bondo already dries rather fast and you want to be able to work with it and get it smooth before it dries.
- Temperature affects how quickly it dries. Heat will make it dry faster, so if you're working in hot conditions beware you will need to work faster. The cold will make it dry slower, which means in the winter you may need to let some areas dry overnight.
- Remember to clean your tools after use. Scrape any leftover dried Bondo off with a spare butter knife, add Bon Ami or Bar Keeper's Friend, use a Brillo Pad to completely scrub it off.
- Create small batches to work with at a time so you don't end up with a plate full of dried Bondo.
Thank you for this post. Growing up my dad used Bondo to repair cars and I have found memories of watching and helping him work. I never thought to use it to repair furniture! I’m going to have to give this a try.
Oh, wonderful! I grew up with my dad using it to fix things also. Let me know how it goes!
I’ve never heard of Bondo before – I wonder if it’s widely available in Canada. I’m going to hunt for it because it seems useful! Thanks for sharing.
I hope so because it’s fantastic! Thank you for commenting!
Once again you provide so much valuable information in a post. I really appreciate all the effort. This post is definitely going to be valuable to me as I work on an old house up here in the North Woods 😉
Oh yes! My dad has used it to fix many “old home” problem areas and it works tremendously. I’m so glad you liked the post!
This post was so informative and had so many great take aways’s. I have never heard of bondo and thoroughly enjoyed reading your post.
Thank you so much! That is a glowing review and such kind words. I really appreciate you.
This is such useful knowledge, especially if you’re living in an old house like we do. I’ll know where to find this information when we need it!
Oh, that is lovely! Thank you so much for your kind words. I really do hope it is useful to you!
This is so good to know! My house could definitely benefit from a little Bondo. Thank you for the detailed and practical info!
You are totally welcome! Thank you for your lovely comment!
This post has great information! I haven’t heard of Bondo before. I will see if I can find it where I live. Thank you so much for sharing!
You are welcome! I hope it’s available where you live, it is truly a lifesaver.
I had never even heard of Bondo before! This is great information! Thank you so much for sharing
You’re very welcome!