Millwork projects demand precise craftsmanship. But even the most skilled carpenter can occasionally make a cutting, finishing or installation mistake during woodworking. Here are a few tips for correcting nicks, dents and other woodworking blemishes.

Applying Wood Filler: Sometimes you may damage a piece of molding with a hammer ding or dent, but it’s difficult to get wood filler to stick to a very small blemish. To help give the filler an anchor, drill a couple of shallow holes in the dent with a 1/16” bit. These small holes will help the wood filler stay in place so that it covers up the blemish. Retouch all flaws with a matching stain.

Fixing Bad Cuts:If a slip of the saw damages an angled piece of molding, compensate by making a clean cut on the inside of the defect. That’s why specifying extra molding in the planning stages is important. After attaining the proper angle, cut the molding to fit by trimming the opposite end.

Using Wood Scraps: Never throw any wood away. Keep a scrap bin for large pieces and a milk jug for smaller bits and pieces. Scrap wood pieces often come in handy for decorative matching, contrasting parts and screw plugs.
Most stains and finishing chemicals, especially bleach, are poisonous, flammable and corrosive. Make certain that you follow these special health and safety precautions when you work with them:

Wear protective overalls and gloves.
Wear a disposable mask and/or reusable. respirator to protect against dust when sanding, and toxic fumes when finishing.
Stain in a dust-free and well-ventilated work area.
Sheet rock should be allowed to dry for at least two days, and plaster for a week or more, depending on weather conditions.
Keep a bucket of clean water and a sponge nearby in case your skin is exposed to bleach or caustic stains.
Clearly mark leftover materials if they are not in their original container. Keep all stains and finishing materials in a cool, dark environment away from children and pets.
Follow proper environmental guidelines when disposing of toxic and/or hazardous chemicals, which includes most hardwood stains.
Consult safety equipment manufacturers or your local OSHA with any questions about the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) you need for a specific project.

For more free information about using stains and caring for hardwoods in the home, contact the Hardwood Information Center, at
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