How to Repair Salvaged or Damaged Wood

Dealing with old salvaged barn wood a lot, we’ve come across some damaged pieces of wood, but not to fear! A damaged piece of wood can be repaired! The industry secret? Super glue and saw dust. Seriously.

Split in the wood:

Here is a piece of pallet wood that needs a little help:

Close up view of a piece of oak that has a crack in it, and old blackened nail holes

You can see from the edge view that it’s only a matter of time before this piece gets caught on something and chips off:

Side view of a piece of oak wood that has split

Dust the areas that are cracked and in danger of splitting further:

A hand sprinkling walnut dust on a piece of oak that has a crack in it, and old blackened nail holes

We like to use walnut dust, because of the dark color: we stain/wax a lot of pieces that end up being darker.

Rub the dust into the crack, filling it completely:

An oak board with a crack in it that has been filled with walnut dust

Then, apply the superglue, one drop at a time:

An oak board with a crack in it that has been filled with walnut dust and super glued

We use Medium 2P10. It’s a bit slower setting super glue (by about a minute) but what I’ve noticed, is that the 2P10 won’t smoke like regular superglue tends to.

Before the glue is all the way dried, sand down the areas that received some spillage, down to the bare wood. This way, your wood will take a stain around your repaired area.

Let the glue finish setting for 10 minutes, then orbital sand to finish.

Chip out:

Here is a piece of molding that received a chip out in the process of milling it through the planar while making the Midcentury Modern Cowboy Cabinet:

Two oak wood boards with the top one that has the chip out and the bottom one is rotted out

Find a piece of wood that matched the grain and character of your chipped out piece.

Two oak wood boards with the top one that has the chip out and the bottom one is rotted out and a hand saw and razor blade in the background

Use a delicate hand saw to cut out the replacement piece. Make it a bit larger so it can be scribed in to fit perfectly.

Two oak wood boards with the top one that has the chip out and the bottom one has a piece sawed out of it

When your replacement piece is cut out, use a chisel to cut back some of the larger excess, fitting your replacement piece in the chip out as you go along. Remember, you can always take a bit more off.

When the piece is a bit more chiseled down to size, use superglue gel to glue it in to place. Then clamp the piece well:

A piece of oak with clamps on it and superglue in the background

Leave it clamped for about 10 minutes. The glue dries quick, but give it a bit of time to cure.

Take the clamps off:

A piece of oak wood with a section of oak wood super glued to the damaged piece

If the piece sticks out a bit, use a hand sander to make it flush with your piece.

Here’s the finished piece on the Midcentury Cowboy Cabinet!

An oak wood cabinet with mitered molding that shows a section that was fixed with another piece of oak wood

Fill in some knot holes:

Here is a big knot that needs filling in:

An oak wood board with a deep knot in it

Sprinkle in your dust to mostly fill the hole:

An oak wood board with a knot in it filled with walnut wood dust

Apply the super glue:

An oak wood board with a knot in it filled with walnut dust and superglue covering the walnut wood dust and superglue in the background

Immediately sprinkle in a top layer of dust:

An oak wood board with a knot in it filled with walnut dust and superglue covering the walnut wood dust and new walnut dust layered on the very top

When the glue is done setting, the top layer of dust will be hardened, but won’t be soaked through, giving it a better chance to take a stain. If you don’t like this look, try sanding it a bit.

Note that stain won’t take on an area that has superglue on it.

Hope this advice helps!

With Love, Erika Nora

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