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What is the Right Approach to Filling in Nail Holes?

Q: I’m refurbishing a maple bookcase. What is the right approach to filling in nail holes?

 

A: If you’re painting the shelves, use a water-based wood filler before priming and painting. However, if you’re using a clear finish, then many professionals suggest not filling the holes until the wood has time to change color to increase the odds of a long-lasting color match. When using a solvent-based filler, apply after sealing or priming but before adding a surface finish. Solvent-based fillers can be stained, but not always the exact color of the surrounding wood.

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