Corbels are the decorative support brackets attached to a vertical surface often used to support a shelf or a counter. Dents and cracks in wooden corbels can make the decorative pieces look less appealing. However, such damage can be hidden using wood putty or wood filler. These compounds can hide the crevices to make the woodwork look good again.
Step 1 – Prep the Damages for Repairs
Remove any loose debris inside the dents and cracks. Be careful with wood splinters, as these can pierce the skin. Before applying the wood filler, sand the surface of the wood to prepare it for sealing. Applying wood sealer after repairs will not only enhance the appearance of the wood but will also conceal the repairs much better.
Step 2 – Choose What Compound to Use
There are two types of a compound that you can use for repairs: wood filler and putty—
Wood filler is a compound that cures quickly and dries to a hard surface. Being tougher and harder than putty, its consistency allows you to use it when dealing with larger and wider cracks and deeper holes. Generally, wood filler hardens to a sandable density for sanding and painting and will provide a solid surface, but will not replace a serious repair. While wood fillers work well for indoor projects, outdoor projects that tend to expand and contract with the change of seasons will see the filler separate from the wood surfaces.
Wood putty is more pliable with a clay-like consistency allowing it to be applied to a surface that has been stained or finished. The putty's pliability allows it to flex instead of breaking with the wood's dimensional structural changes avoiding potential cracking and breaking off. For that reason, it makes a better choice when filling gaps and knots. It can be used to fill narrow cracks, small dents, and to cover nails and screw holes. Sanding it can be a bit more challenging than sanding wood filler, though, because of its softer texture. The availability of wood putty in a variety of colors makes it easier to get a closer match to repair your damaged corbels. If an exact match cannot be found, you can always purchase two separate colors and blend them together to get the correct color tone.
Step 3 – Fill the Cracks
Fill the small cracks with wood putty using a putty knife. Allow the putty to fill the entire space. For dents, use the knife to shape the putty to conform to the contour of the corbel surface. Take some time to get the shape correct, especially on highly curved surfaces. Use a finger to smooth out the edges. Allow drying.
Fill deep holes and larger cracks with wood filler. Mix the filler according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Do not make the mixture pourable, or it may not stick correctly to the space in the cracks. Use a putty knife to apply the compound. Shape it correctly as with the putty. Push it further down the crack or hole with a popsicle stick or toothpick. Allow the compound to dry overnight. Sand to level the surface. Next, apply putty on the area for a smoother surface.
Step 4 – Paint or Stain
Sand over the filled spaces of the wooden corbels with fine-grit sandpaper to make the paint or stain adhere to it easily. If stain is to be used, be sure that the color of the putty or filler nearly matches the color of the wood. Apply the stain evenly and allow it to dry. Decide whether to apply a second coat to darken the color. Leave the stain to dry. When opting to use paint, prime the wood with a quality primer. Sand the primer coat after it dries. Apply the finishing coat and let it dry overnight.
Step 5 – Apply Polyurethane Sealer
Using polyurethane sealer for wood will provide the best sealing results. Use a paintbrush to apply the sealer once. Ensure that the sealer is applied evenly. Wait for the sealer to dry.