Wood Putty

How to Soften Wood Putty From A Dry State – Step-By-Step Guide


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Leave alone the inexperienced, even the experienced woodworkers find it difficult in finishing woodworking projects without leaving blemishes on the wood. This is where wood putty comes to the rescue of many woodworkers like you, to help in removing those blemishes and giving the wood a facelift.

A wood putty also called plastic wood is made from oil-based compounds and plastic chemicals that helps in filling small holes and imperfections in the wood. Unlike wood fillers that are used to fix larger problems, wood putties are helpful in fixing minor issues.

It is a paste that is usually applied to finished wood so that it gives the wood a smooth appearance. You can apply it to cover nail holes, small cracks, minor joint mismatches, and any such small blemishes on the wood.

However, we shouldn’t apply wood putty to raw wood because the putty contains chemical compounds that will harm the raw wood. Basically what happens is, when you apply the putty while the wood is unfinished, the chemicals in the paste end up damaging the surface of the wood before it is stained.

Unlike wood filler, which we can only use for indoor wood projects, wood putty can be used for projects in any environment. We can use wood putty both for indoors and outdoors.

But, wood putty is ideally suited for outdoor wood projects. Outdoor wood projects experience all kinds of temperatures that could make the wood shrink or expand. The wood putty also expands or contracts along with the wood that makes the putty to be ideal for such projects.

Wood putty come in two types: nitrocellulose and acrylic-based putty. These are the two most common types of putties. The nitrocellulose-based putty is ideally good for wood projects which we have to complete within a timeframe because the nitrocellulose-based wood putty dries extremely quickly. On the other hand, acrylic-based wood putty is good for wood projects that don’t have any time-specific limitations because this material takes a longer time to dry.

They also come in matching colors and you can easily find the putties that match your wood projects. Some wood putty colors that you can find are light oak, butternut, teak wood, ebony among others. Even if you don’t find your color match putty for your wood project, you can still get a closer match. You can do this by using the sawdust from the wood and mixing it with the wood putty.

Often what happens is that the jar of the putty gets dried out, becoming rock solid. The dried putty looks as if it is of no use. To test the dryness of the putty, a screwdriver can help. When using a screwdriver and sticking it in the putty, the hardness of the putty can be felt. The putty starts to crack after sticking the screwdriver in the putty, indicating that it has dried.

Although, people think of the dried putty of no use and start to abandon it, they can still reuse the dried putty.

If you find your putty is in a dried state, there are ways to reconstitute the dried wood putty so that you can reuse it for upcoming projects.

A word of caution, make sure not to use paint thinners or solvents to soften the dried wood putty. Using them still keeps the wood putty dry.

That said, here is the step-by-step guide that will instruct you on how to soften wood putty.

Follow The Step-By-Step Guide To Know How To Soften Wood Putty

Step 1: Take A Screwdriver

As mentioned earlier, a screwdriver can be used to test the dryness of the wood putty. All you need to do is to stick the screwdriver in the putty and see if the putty cracks. If it does then the putty has dried.

This is one of the uses of a screwdriver and the other use is to take the dried putty out from the jar. Use the screwdriver and flip the whole putty out of the jar. You will find that the putty has broken down into hard pieces.

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Step 2: Knead The Putty

Next, you need to knead those pieces so that they form into a dough. Although the putty might look that it has been reconstituted into the original shape, it hasn’t. You will still find some hard pieces in the dough. You need to soften those hard pieces.

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Step 3: Make Use Of Oil

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Make use of canola vegetable cooking oil. Even if you don’t have canola oil, you can also use corn oil or olive oil. By using these types of oils will help in softening the dough.

Pour two to three drops of canola oil on the dough and again start kneading the dough. As you start kneading the dough, the solid pieces in the putty will start softening and start breaking into pieces and getting reincorporated into the dough.

After thoroughly kneading the dough, you will find that the putty has been reconstituted into its original form.


Wood putty is any woodworker’s best friend. By using wood putty, you will be able to transform the appearance of the finished wood by covering all the small blemishes on the wood. Whether it is covering nail holes, small cracks, minor joint mismatches, or any other minor imperfections, wood putty is there for you to cover them all. Doing so will provide the finished wood with a facelift.

However, there are chances of the wood putty getting dried in the jar and often people think that the putty is of no use. Even if that happens, there are ways on how to soften wood putty. All you need to do is to follow the above step-by-step guide to reconstitute the dried wood putty into its original form.

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