How to Make Wood Filler without Sawdust? Crafting DIY in 8 Steps

Wood projects show minor to major imperfections over time and lose their aesthetics. Wood filler has a magical role in concealing flaws and creating a seamless finish. Sawdust is a readily available base for homemade wood fillers, but you may need to explore alternatives in case of the absence of sawdust. Let’s learn how to make wood filler without sawdust to get different textures and welcome innovations in the woodworking field. 

Why and When Do You Need Alternatives to Fillers Without Sawdust

Sawdust-based wood filler is very commonly used by professional woodworkers, contractors, or DIY enthusiasts due to its easy accessibility and convenience. However, due to some limitations of wood fillers with sawdust in the global market, people are trying to use DIY wood fillers that can be made without sawdust. To make this filler, you will need petroleum jelly, wood glue, cornstarch, etc. 

Not everyone has easy access to sawdust. DIY enthusiasts or hobbyists don’t perform woodcutting tasks or sanding frequently. In that case, finding an alternative to sawdust-based fillers is necessary. Also, sawdust-based fillers don’t always offer a smooth finish on specific projects. In that case, the worker might desire to try an alternative or materials that can give a consistent and finer finish. 

Some fillers without sawdust are better suitable for specific woodworking applications. Different materials offer different drying times, consistencies, and bonding strengths. Exploring and using various alternatives to sawdust-based fillers will help you understand the perfect choice for your specific project’s requirements. 

Sometimes, sawdust-based fillers should be avoided for help considerations. People with respiratory issues should avoid using these fillers as they can be irritant while working with them for a long time. Another reason to feel the need to use alternatives to sawdust-based fillers is to use household items or waste materials as fillers for better cost-effectiveness. You can reduce your investment by not buying commercial sawdust-based fillers, as many cheaper options are available. 

Recommended: Can You Paint Over Wood Filler? A Guide for a Seamless Finish

Step-by-step Guide: How to Make Wood Filler without Sawdust 

Commercial wood fillers are so much in demand around the world that woodworkers try to make them on their own and be relieved from the hassle of dealing with perfect match and color. Though making wood filler without sawdust sounds difficult, it takes little time if you have the proper materials ready and know the right techniques. The following section will teach practical DIY steps for making wood filler without sawdust. 

Things You Will Need 

  • Cornstarch
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Wood glue
  • Spoon 
  • Measurement cups
  • Mixing bowl
  • Plastic wrapper
  • Paper towels
  • Hand gloves
  • Plastic protector
  • Worksurface


Step 1: Get the Ingredients Ready 

Before making your wood filler, it’s essential to get everything ready and know the specific requirements of your project. Use a measuring cup and pour a particular amount of cornstarch, depending on how much wood filler you want to make. Cornstarch is a fantastic alternative to sawdust. It gives a different appearance and texture on the surface. 

Next, take the measured cornstarch into a mixing bowl or a plastic container to mix all the ingredients. Take an equal amount of wood glue using the same measuring cup and add it to the mixing bowl. The ratio of cornstarch and wood glue must be 1:1. 

Step 2: Mix the Ingredients 

Mix the cornstarch and wood glue with a spoon. Depending on the consistency you want, you can add more glue. The too-rough texture of the mixture will require more glue added but be sure not to add too much extra that can make the mixture extremely thin. Mix the ingredients so quickly that the wood glue doesn’t get hardened. The mixture should reach a putty-like consistency. Now, let the mixture sit on the surface.

Step 3: Start Kneading

In the third stage, you should start kneading the mixture after taking it into your palm and turning it into a dough. Knead it like clay. Make sure you do it until the mixture sticks to your fingers or palm and gets hardened. 

Step 4: Add Petroleum Jelly

Now, it’s time to add a small amount of petroleum jelly to the mixture and reduce the stickiness. Petroleum jelly is an excellent ingredient to smoothen the mixture and remove the stickiness. Use both hands to apply petroleum jelly and ensure it removes the roughness inside the mixture. Make the dough look like a taffy. To examine, stretch, push, and pull it with your fingers. Do the process until it feels smooth in your hands. Don’t add too extra, as it increases the curing time. 

Tips: How to Remove Wood Filler? 5 Easy Steps to Restore

Step 5: Wrap the Mixture 

After you get the desired consistency of the mixture after adding petroleum jelly, wrap it with a plastic wrapper like the way you wrap foods and other things. The mixture should be wrapped tightly so that no air can get inside. 

Step 6: Leave the Mixture to Cure

Put the mixture into a plastic bag. Squeeze the air inside the bag and leave for a day to cure it properly. Be patient about curing time because the more time you take to cure the mixture, the better result you will get. 

Step 7: Clean the Tools 

As you finish the process, clean all the tools and materials you used to prepare this wood filler. Close the lids of the glue to prevent its hardening. 

Step 8: Unwrap the Mixture and Use

Finally, after curing for 24 hours, you can unwrap the mixture from the plastic bag. Now, it is ready to use as a wood filler. Warm it before you use it.  

Relevant: How To Fix A Stripped Screw Hole In Wood: 7 Alternative Ways

Possible Problems of Using Homemade Wood Filler

Making homemade wood filler without sawdust has both advantages and disadvantages. This article has already covered the necessity of alternatives to sawdust-based wood fillers. However, this section will uncover possible problems with using homemade wood fillers. 

Multiple Attempts

You may not get the perfect mixture on your first attempt if you’re not a professional craftsman who frequently uses varied materials to make wood fillers. It might take several attempts to get the right mixture. Since it is time-consuming, some people may want to avoid making wood filler at home. 


Focusing on getting the right consistency of the mixture is very important. Without knowing the right ingredients and measurements, your mixture will be inconsistent and lose the purpose of using it on the surface. To avoid unexpected outcomes, you may choose commercial wood fillers with sawdust.

Durability Issues

Durability concerns are another disadvantage of homemade wood fillers without sawdust. Some homemade mixtures may not provide the same strength and durability as commercial or traditional sawdust-based wood fillers made by professionals. 


Achieving a perfect match to the wood surface is the primary focus of using a wood filler. It loses all its purpose if you can’t match the filler with the color and grain pattern of the project. It is challenging to get the best appearance with wood fillers without sawdust. 

Alternatives to Wood Fillers

What to do when you don’t have commercial wood filler on hand? Here, we are going to provide a list of compounds you can choose as great substitutes for wood filler. 


You can create a good foundation using sawdust and shellac to replace wood filler. It is traditionally known for its use as a wood finish. As it comes in varied colors, you can easily match it to the different wood tones of your project. When heated, it gets soft and blemishes the imperfections of the wood surface like cracks, gouges, dents, etc. 

You will need scrap wood from the project and shellac to get the best finish. Shellac also has a fast-drying feature that makes it suitable for quick repairs. Don’t use natural orange shellac that doesn’t match your wooden surface. The mixture shouldn’t be too dry or sticky. 

Wood Glue and Sawdust 

Combining wood glue and sawdust is another popular replacement for wood filler, but it may provide a much darker texture after finishing the wood job. Sawdust has a large surface area that causes the wood surface to absorb more stains compared to other surfaces. To avoid this issue, create shavings of a larger diameter than sawdust and mix them well while combining the wood glue and sawdust. This process will reduce the absorption of stains. 

Drywall Mud 

Another amazing alternative is drywall mud which is primarily designed for concealing joints on drywall. However, its versatile nature also allows it to be used for repairing wood surfaces. Drywall mud is smooth and easy to apply. You can fill minor dents or cracks in the surface without hassle. Once dried, it can be sanded and painted very easily

Linseed Oil and Chalkdust

Merging linseed oil with chalk dust creates a good filler substitute. Pour a desired amount of linseed oil into a mixing bowl and add chalk dust. Stir the mixture well with a putty knife. Keep adding chalk dust until you get the right consistency. The formed compound will help to fix nail holes or dents in wood surfaces. 

Tips to Remember

Some tips and tricks while making wood filler without sawdust will help you get the best possible result. Here are some effective tips you can follow. 

  • Clean the working area properly to make sure the wood filler isn’t trapped with dust and dirt. If dust gets stuck inside the wood filler, it will reduce the quality of your project and make it less durable. 
  • Apply the filler to another surface before using it on your main project to check the filler’s color, texture, and strength after it gets dried. 
  • Buy new cornstarch to make the filler. Old cornstarch may contain dust and debris that can reduce the wood filler’s effectiveness and quality. Add cornstarch to the mixing bowl to ensure the wood glue doesn’t stick to the measuring cup. 
  • Do the mixing process very fast to stop the wood glue from getting hardened. And then ensure you apply and shape it quickly.
  • If you make a large amount, store the excess filler in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out. You can rehydrate them with a few drops of water later before you use them before they dry out. 
  • Work in a well-ventilated area. 
  • Wear gloves and safety glasses for protection. 

Read: How Long Does Wood Filler Take To Dry Before Painting? 9 Steps

In Conclusion

Wood fillers work as a magical substance in the field of woodworking and ensure the product is flawless and durable. Sawdust-based fillers are very popular due to their easy accessibility and efficacy. However, there is always a scope for experimenting with new things to get different textures on your product. 

As this article has explained amazing alternatives and techniques, you will no longer be confused about how to make wood fillers without sawdust. Whether a beginner or a professional woodworker, the alternatives will help elevate your craftsmanship.

Hey, I'm George Fanton. I've over nine years of experience in the woodworking industry. I've cultivated a deep interest in practical wood and tasks. I enjoy sharing new information on woodworking technology to maintain my expertise in the current woodworking industries.

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