In Praise of Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Filler

brockrwood

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Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Filler works like magic to fill body tube spirals, balsa wood grain, and other imperfections in my model rockets. It’s dirt cheap and cleans up with water in the bathroom sink. I hope they never stop making the stuff.

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Back_at_it

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Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Filler works like magic to fill body tube spirals, balsa wood grain, and other imperfections in my model rockets. It’s dirt cheap and cleans up with water in the bathroom sink. I hope they never stop making the stuff.

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Agreed. Great stuff for filling fins, body spirals and making fillets nice and neat. I like Elmers brand as it doesn't create a huge cloud of sanding dust so I typically use it during the winter months when working indoors.

When the weather is better I prefer DAP brand wood filler. Goes on smoother and is much easier to sand. You could almost knock it down with notebook paper. The downside is that the dust is more like a super fine powder that gets in the air. I use this one only when I can sand outside.
 

neil_w

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Agreed. Great stuff for filling fins, body spirals and making fillets nice and neat. I like Elmers brand as it doesn't create a huge cloud of sanding dust so I typically use it during the winter months when working indoors.

When the weather is better I prefer DAP brand wood filler. Goes on smoother and is much easier to sand. You could almost knock it down with notebook paper. The downside is that the dust is more like a super fine powder that gets in the air. I use this one only when I can sand outside.
That's interesting, I didn't particularly notice any difference in sanding dust between the two. In my estimate the Elmers stuff *does* generate pretty substantial, very fine dust. I try to do my sanding while holding the part in question inside a large trash can, so most of the dust stays in there instead of coating everything (like my nose).
 

SolarYellow

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Looking on Amazon, there are approximately 37 different kinds of DAP wood filler. Which one do I want to try?

I'm thinking my choice is between these two:

DAP: https://www.amazon.com/BANZ-00585-Purpose-Plastic-Filler/dp/B01IY7ACZS?th=1

Elmer's: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000BQM72C/?th=1

Do those tubes work, or is there some reason I should only consider a tub? (Want to try smaller quantities before making a "big" investment for a lifetime supply.) The cost difference is inconsequential if one works better or is easier to work with than the other.
 

neil_w

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Looking on Amazon, there are approximately 37 different kinds of DAP wood filler. Which one do I want to try?

I'm thinking my choice is between these two:

DAP: https://www.amazon.com/BANZ-00585-Purpose-Plastic-Filler/dp/B01IY7ACZS?th=1

Elmer's: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000BQM72C/?th=1

Do those tubes work, or is there some reason I should only consider a tub? (Want to try smaller quantities before making a "big" investment for a lifetime supply.) The cost difference is inconsequential if one works better or is easier to work with than the other.
I use the little 4-oz tubs, personally, only $2.80 at HD: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Elmer-s-4-oz-Carpenter-s-Wood-Filler-155876/311643947

I thin down the whole tub to desired consistency so it's ready to use. To me this is much more easy and convenient than having to dispense some and thin it each time. If the tub starts to dry out (inevitable), I just re-thin the whole tub. Also, keeping the whole tub thinned means that it has a long way to go before it actually becomes dry and hard. I'll see it getting thicker first, and at that stage it's still very easy to add a little water and stir it up.

Since I started working this way I've been a much happier person. :)

DAP offers the same little tubs. I have one... not sure which exact variety. It's a pink color-changing type. Overall behavior seems similar to the Elmer's but I don't particularly like the smell of it (the Elmer's is odorless)
 

lakeroadster

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Looking on Amazon, there are approximately 37 different kinds of DAP wood filler. Which one do I want to try?

I'm thinking my choice is between these two:

DAP: https://www.amazon.com/BANZ-00585-Purpose-Plastic-Filler/dp/B01IY7ACZS?th=1

Elmer's: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000BQM72C/?th=1

Do those tubes work, or is there some reason I should only consider a tub? (Want to try smaller quantities before making a "big" investment for a lifetime supply.) The cost difference is inconsequential if one works better or is easier to work with than the other.

I'm also a "tub" guy. I bought the bigger tub. We also use it on woodworking projects.

 

mh9162013

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And when it dries up in the container... just add some water. I bought a larger tub, and have been using it for 4 years!
Can others confirm this is true, at least for the Elmer's stuff?

One reason why I haven't bought wood filler is b/c I'd use so little of it and I assumed it would go "bad" before I could use it all. But even if it does go "bad," all I'd have to do is add a little bit of water and it's back to useable form?
 

BDB

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I switched from CWF to Bondo several years ago when Elmers changed their formulation a little. But I’m not too sold on Bondo spot glazing putty either. It flakes off sometimes.

Are you guys using the door-change CWF that they sell at Home Depot and Lowe’s?

I tried this stuff recently. You can get it for cheap at O’Riley Auto Parts. It sands well, and makes a hard, smooth surface, but it’s not ideal either because it takes a long time to dry.

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Scott_650

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Can others confirm this is true, at least for the Elmer's stuff?

One reason why I haven't bought wood filler is b/c I'd use so little of it and I assumed it would go "bad" before I could use it all. But even if it does go "bad," all I'd have to do is add a little bit of water and it's back to useable form?
It’s true, but it does take more mixing than when it’s fresh and soft - you have to really stir it up or it ends up grainy.

Couple things that works for me to keep it fresher longer is to scoop out what I need the close up the container immediately and to keep the whole container inside a zip top freezer bag.

If you really are only going to use small amounts try buying it in a tube, you can squeeze out the air and seal it up better than the tubes.
 

neil_w

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Can others confirm this is true, at least for the Elmer's stuff?

One reason why I haven't bought wood filler is b/c I'd use so little of it and I assumed it would go "bad" before I could use it all. But even if it does go "bad," all I'd have to do is add a little bit of water and it's back to useable form?
Yes, but this is where keeping the whole tub thinned out really works in your favor. You'll probably notice it thickening up long before it goes hard. It's much easier to re-thin while it's still liquidy rather than after it's hard.
 

Scott_650

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Looking on Amazon, there are approximately 37 different kinds of DAP wood filler. Which one do I want to try?

I'm thinking my choice is between these two:

DAP: https://www.amazon.com/BANZ-00585-Purpose-Plastic-Filler/dp/B01IY7ACZS?th=1

Elmer's: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000BQM72C/?th=1

Do those tubes work, or is there some reason I should only consider a tub? (Want to try smaller quantities before making a "big" investment for a lifetime supply.) The cost difference is inconsequential if one works better or is easier to work with than the other.
I’ve tried various brands in tubs and tubes - just about any water-based latex wood filler available from Lowe’s, HD, W-M, etc and other than needing different thinning ratios it works pretty much the same.

The stuff that DOESN’T work is any kind that contains fibers - it doesn’t thin well and it doesn’t sand smooth.
 

BDB

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Yea. I bought a tub of the fiber-containing stuff once, and it was awful to work with.
 

HonestJohn

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Can others confirm this is true, at least for the Elmer's stuff?

One reason why I haven't bought wood filler is b/c I'd use so little of it and I assumed it would go "bad" before I could use it all. But even if it does go "bad," all I'd have to do is add a little bit of water and it's back to useable form?
I can confirm that to be true. Usually when I see that mine has dried out, I'll dump some water in the container and put the lid back on until the next day. At that point it will be soft enough to mix any additional water in that may be required to get it to a workable consistency.
 
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Can others confirm this is true, at least for the Elmer's stuff?

One reason why I haven't bought wood filler is b/c I'd use so little of it and I assumed it would go "bad" before I could use it all. But even if it does go "bad," all I'd have to do is add a little bit of water and it's back to useable form?
distilled water instead of tap water
 

bjphoenix

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It’s true, but it does take more mixing than when it’s fresh and soft - you have to really stir it up or it ends up grainy.

Couple things that works for me to keep it fresher longer is to scoop out what I need the close up the container immediately and to keep the whole container inside a zip top freezer bag.

If you really are only going to use small amounts try buying it in a tube, you can squeeze out the air and seal it up better than the tubes.
I have the larger tub of Elmers. I keep a small water bottle on my bench so it's readily available when I need to thin the stuff. My tub tends to get residue around the lip and that keeps the lid from sealing well so it dries out faster. I've started putting a bit of extra water in it when I close it, and put it inside a gallon ziplock bag.

It works well for filling bigger gaps, I can't imagine using it for spirals in Estes tubes, but I never bother filling those anyway. I paper my fins but this doesn't cover exposed balsa around the edges so I use filler for that, also for any small imperfections in the papering process.
 

Scott_650

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I have the larger tub of Elmers. I keep a small water bottle on my bench so it's readily available when I need to thin the stuff. My tub tends to get residue around the lip and that keeps the lid from sealing well so it dries out faster. I've started putting a bit of extra water in it when I close it, and put it inside a gallon ziplock bag.

It works well for filling bigger gaps, I can't imagine using it for spirals in Estes tubes, but I never bother filling those anyway. I paper my fins but this doesn't cover exposed balsa around the edges so I use filler for that, also for any small imperfections in the papering process.
Mix in less water - get it a bit thicker than yellow mustard - and it works great on spirals. I usually paper my fins too, but occasionally I’ll do the CWF, filler/primer technique just for variety.
 

bjphoenix

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Mix in less water - get it a bit thicker than yellow mustard - and it works great on spirals. I usually paper my fins too, but occasionally I’ll do the CWF, filler/primer technique just for variety.
In the past I've had good luck using it on fins. I could get a perfectly smooth fin finish using it. It was a bit hard to put it on perfectly smooth so I had to be careful sanding since some areas would be thicker than others. I started papering my fins not to get a smoother finish but to make them stronger. I got a smoother finish with less work using the filler.
 

bwayne64

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I put plastic wrap down against the filler and make sure the lid is on tight. Seems to make it stay loosey goosey, ; ) I've heard some people put a layer of water on the top of the filler, and just pour it off when they use it. Haven't tried that.
 
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