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Can You Drill Into Wood Filler? [Screw And Nails Issues]

There are many instances when you need to repair your woodwork. Wood fillers are usually the fix for cracks splits and holes in wood. Sometimes, you may need to bore holes through wood fillers for mending. But can you drill into wood fillers? We have researched this concern to come up with the answer for you.

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You can drill screws or hammer a nail through a wood filler when cured and completely dried. A cured wood filler is flexible enough to hold small screws or nails. You only have to be careful in applying heavy loads to the screws as the wood filler may not be able to hold it.

Note that drilling screws and nails are not for all types of wood fillers. To stabilize the wood, there are also proper ways to drill screws or nails onto the wood fillers. Keep reading to learn more about drilling screws and nails into wood fillers. 

Carpenter using scraper and wood filler to fill the holes, Can You Drill Into Wood Filler? [Screw And Nails Issues]

Drilling Into Wood Fillers

The main job of a wood filler is to repair gaps or holes, not take in screws and nails. Don't be confused; you can drill onto the filler for repair. However, you must pick the right wood filler to drill screws into. 

Removing holes from a wood surface

The best wood filler that can anchor a screw is a two-part epoxy wood filler. You can also drill through a multi-purpose and exterior wood filler. These varieties of wood fillers are resilient and can hold screws and nails.

  • Epoxy-based wood fillers often come in two parts: resin and hardener. The two parts are mixed and then applied to the wood for repair. This is durable and is not brittle, so it will not crack easily. When your woodwork expands and contracts, the resin goes with it, so they don’t separate.
  • Exterior wood filler is the type you use for wood that is exposed to the elements because it is resistant to moisture. Some exterior wood fillers are made with acrylic latex which can also withstand water.
  • Multi-purpose wood filler is a type of filler that does it all. Some multi-purpose wood fillers come in various colors. Like the previous types, you can stain, varnish, or paint over this one. This can be used in both interior and exterior woodworks. Most especially, you can drill a screw or nail through it.

Why Are Wood Fillers Not Load-bearing?

Most wood fillers steadily hold screws and nails, but they are not meant to hold heavy loads. They cannot support large screws as well.  This is because heavy loads put stress that destroys the wood filler.  

For example, wood fillers will be able to hold drilled small screw used to hang a small picture frame or a nail used to reattach a broken table or chair.

But if you are trying to reuse a hole to screw through it to hang a TV, that won't hold up. The stress of the heavy object will damage the filler. It is better off to drill somewhere else. This is true even if the screw you used is load bearing.

Using wood fillers for joints prone to movement is also not a good idea. Take your door hinges, for example; the joint will not hold for long because of the constant movement of the door. The screwed part might come apart over time.

What Wood Fillers Are Good For Screws And Nails?

Here are some wood fillers that are suitable for anchoring screws and nails:

Minwax High-Performance Wood Filler

This wood filler is ideal for patching holes, splits, and even rotted wood exterior. It resists wood shrinking and cracking. The drying time of this filler is fast as well. Most importantly, it securely holds screws and nails.

Click here to see this wood filler on Amazon.

Gorilla All Purpose Wood Filler

This is easy to spread. It is sustainable, sandable, and paintable. Its cured color is natural wood. It anchors nails and screws too.

Click here to see this wood filler on Amazon

DAP All Purpose Wood Filler

This is a high-performance wood filler that is three times stronger than the wood when cured. This contains real wood fibers, so it looks like real wood when dried. It also provides a strong anchor to nails and screws without splitting or cracking.

Click here to see this wood filler on Amazon.

Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Filler

It comes in a resealable tube which is great for small repair jobs. Like the other fillers mentioned above, this is also resistant to shrinking and cracking. It also covers nails and holes from screws well. 

Click here to see this wood filler on Amazon

How Long Before Drying Can You Drill Into The Wood Filler?

Putty knife in man's hand

Wood fillers need to cure first before drilling a screw into it. Therefore, you need to know how long it’ll take for the filler to dry so you can plan your woodwork projects easier.

Drying times depend on which type of wood filler you used.  It also depends on how deep the filler is applied. For oil-based filler, the surface dries after 10-20 minutes of application, but it’ll take 12-48 hours to completely cure.

How Can You Speed Up Wood Filler Drying Time?

Sometimes, when you are in a hurry to finish a project, waiting for a long time won't do. There are ways to shorten the wood filler’s drying time if you need it to cure sooner.

  • It is advisable to apply a thin layer for the first coating. This will dry quicker. If you need thicker layers, you can apply multiple thin layers. Overall, the drying time is shorter.
  • Consider the weather. If you are working on wood filler, applying it on warmer days is better. The temperature helps the filler to dry quickly.
  • Use a fan. The fan helps in air circulation. If there is no humidity, the wood filler dries faster.

How Do You Fix A Stripped Screw Hole With Wood Filler?

Wood fillers also secure screws in place. To repair stripped screw holes, you need to take note of these tips to ensure a strong anchor on non-load bearing screws or nails.

  • Insert stick bamboo skewers, toothpicks, or wooden match sticks into the hole. Dip them in wood glue, jam them in the hole, and apply wood filler. This will make the surface ready for holding screws or nails.
  • After the application of wood filler, let it cure and dry completely.
  • Make a pilot hole. These small pre-drilled holes in the wood make it easier to drive screws. Do not drive the screw directly through the wood filler because fillers may crack. Use a drill bit to bore a hole instead. 

Can You Screw Into Wood Putty?

DIY worker applying filler to the wood

Wood putty is sometimes used interchangeably with wood filler. They are different though. Wood putty is more flexible than wood filler. It doesn't completely harden like a wood filler. As a result, it is not advisable to drill a screw through a putty for reuse.

Can You Screw Into A Spackle?

A spackle also patches small holes, cracks, and other imperfections on drywall and wood. It comes in powder and paste form. This is similar to a toothpaste’s consistency.

Although it is similar to a wood filler in that it covers wood cracks and splits, the spackle is not durable enough to fill screw holes to be reused. Attempting to screw spackle will pull out your wall.

Can You Screw Into Wood Glue?

Gluing wooden board

It may come as a surprise, but yes, you can. There are two instances when you can drill a screw through wood glue:

  1. The bond may not be strong when you are gluing two pieces of wood together. You'll need to use a screw as an anchor. To do this, you must drill the screw before the wood glue hardens. The bond strength will be compromised if you drill a screw after it hardens.
  2. When working on a hole that needs repairing, wood glue mixed with sawdust can act as a wood filler. Before drilling a screw, fill the hole with the mixture, and wait for it to cure. However, like wood fillers, the screw or nail drilled into wood glue is not load bearing.

In Closing

Most wood fillers are flexible so you may drill a screw or nail through them when necessary. Keep in mind that picking the right wood filler is also essential in doing so. Be careful to put stress in a screw that you have reattached because wood filler will not be able to bear heavy loads.

If you found this helpful, please check out these related articles:

Drywall Screws Showing Through Paint – What To Do?

Should You Drill A Pilot Hole For Wood Screws?