How do I fix my drilling stupidity?
April 13, 2012 10:40 PM   Subscribe

I managed to drill a hole / crater into my desk. This divot happens be where I write. Thus I need to fill this hole such that I can write with the least amount of disruption. What is the best way to do this?

Here is what the hole looks like. I'm looking for the following characteristics, in order of importance:
  • Cost.
  • Left-over stuff (I have tons of one-off cans of chemicals and such that I'll probably never use again, and I'd like not to add to them, if possible).
  • Non-disruptability of the writing surface.
  • Durability (I'm willing to have to repair it again, but probably not a week later).
  • Stainability (I don't care that much that you can see it, only that you can "feel" it).
The hole is approx 3 mm in diameter (probably similar in depth, well maybe half that). I have the following items that may be relevant: Elmer's brand Carpenter's Wood Glue. Random wooden dowels + sandpaper (to make sawdust, maybe?). Other random epoxies and glues.
posted by dirigibleman to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Water putty is cheap, sets up quickly, and is incredibly hard. Try to get it smooth when you apply it because it's tough to sand. You could try to fit a dowel in there, I guess, but you would have to be really careful with any glue since glue doesn't take stain well.
posted by Ostara at 10:47 PM on April 13, 2012

Mix epoxy, pour in hole so that it overflows slightly, allow to cure, sand smooth. Done.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:49 PM on April 13, 2012

This is an easy job for Plastic Wood, and almost exactly what it is made for. I can't link now

When it sets and dries, it sands just like wood and is about the same strength. Any hardware store will have it.
posted by caclwmr4 at 10:51 PM on April 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

Yes, epoxy. Mix up a much larger batch than you think you need, so any discrepancy between Part A and Part B is small. If you try to mix a tiny little bit, one part or the other will predominate, and the repair won't cure nicely -- you'll always have this nasty sticky spot on your desk.
posted by spacewrench at 10:54 PM on April 13, 2012

Best answer: From the edge of the hole, that looks like vinyl film over particleboard? If so, any filler will always feel a little different 'cos you won't get the slight cushioning from the vinyl.

To minimise that (presuming I'm too lazy to cut a patch or redo the whole surface) I'd fill all bar the top mm or so with whatever you have to hand, let it dry, then fill the rest with vinyl filler. It's available as a kit including a variety of colours & surface finishes with a heating tool to set it, but don't buy them - instead, you can buy just the filler in various colours from shoe /upholstery / handbag shops, and set it by covering it with waxed paper and using an ordinary clothes iron.
posted by Pinback at 11:24 PM on April 13, 2012

This is just in case it keeps bothering you even after you take all this knowledgable advice: a deskblotter or a deskpad calendar or a tempered glass desk cover might be cheaper and easier than replacing the whole desk. (Uh, not that you couldn't think of those yourself. But I find it's a lot easier to remember search terms when I don't actually need them.)
posted by gingerest at 11:55 PM on April 13, 2012

Yeah, woodfiller also known as "Plastic wood" - sand-able, color it before application if you want to make the fix invisible - or buy a product the color of the surrounding wood.

posted by jbenben at 12:11 AM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

What I would do is drill it further down and install a bung and then sand or plane it flat. (I have no idea about that website, just used it for example)

Epoxy would work, if you managed to get the ratios right. I have always found that I can't, and it ends up staying pliable. It would also be messier.

I don't think wood filler would work, because I think the pressure of a pen going over it would cause it to crumble over time.
posted by gjc at 8:55 AM on April 14, 2012

If you have any sawdust left over from your drilling project, mix it with enough wood glue to make a thick paste and scrape that into the hole. You'll probably have to do two applications because it does shrink slightly when it dries, but it dries relatively quickly.
posted by bookdragoness at 9:29 AM on April 14, 2012

Epoxy or putty would work great for this; that's pretty much what my dad would've used in a situation like this.
posted by limeonaire at 9:47 AM on April 14, 2012

Epoxy would work but can be a bit gummy to sand...I'd go with a wood filler of some kind.
posted by sninctown at 10:00 AM on April 14, 2012

Maybe not the cheapest, but after using some wood filler to fix it cosmetically, you could have a piece of clear plexi or glass cut to fit the top of the desk and protect it. I used to have a desk with glass and you could display postcards or photos under the glass too which was fun.
posted by klugarsh at 1:08 PM on April 14, 2012

Best answer: I have to agree that it looks like it's some sort of laminate or veneer product, which means that any damage you do to the surrounding finish will be hard to fix. That means that solutions that require sanding are not ideal. Be careful.
posted by jgreco at 3:47 PM on April 14, 2012

Response by poster: Pinback and jgreco are right. It's a particle board / veneer product. I'm not sure it's vinyl, but I also don't think it's real wood (it is durable, whatever it is). For now, I've filled it with some wood filler, and if that doesn't work out, I can probably try something else.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:10 PM on April 14, 2012

Do note that you can probably re-damage it very precisely using a similar technique to the one you used to damage it in the first place, which will be handy if your initial fix doesn't work out.

You'll want to determine how "springy" your surface actually is. Try taking a ball point pen, thin piece of paper, and writing on a glass surface (very hard), and then compare the feel to other surfaces, especially including other wood surfaces. This may give you some clues as to the approach to take. I have no more specific suggestions, but this ought to give you an idea as to just how hard a material you need for your repair.
posted by jgreco at 6:46 PM on April 15, 2012

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