How to Plug a Hole in a Cabinet Door

fixing hole in wood with wood putty and putty knife
  • 48 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20-70
What You'll Need
Wood-epoxy filler
Toothpicks, dowel, wooden cork, or cut-to-fit wood piece
Putty knife
Sandpaper, coarse and fine-grained
Paint, wood stain, or varnish (optional)
Safety gear

There’s a secret to plugging wooden cabinet-door holes: you must completely fill the hole with something, like wood putty, a narrow dowel, or toothpicks, and then sand the surface to make it level. For more tips and tricks on how to plug a hole in a wooden cabinet door, follow the steps below.

Step 1 – Smooth the Rough Edges of the Hole

First, sand the hole edge with coarse-grain sandpaper to remove all chipped paint, varnish, and splinters. Then, polish the area with fine-grain sandpaper. Use a tack cloth to clean up any wood dust.

Step 2 – Mix the Wood-Epoxy Filler

Warning: Use wood-epoxy filler only in a properly ventilated area. If you need to, you can use a fan in a smaller space to direct fumes away from you to avoid inhaling them. In addition, wear protective gear (gloves, safety glasses, respirator mask).

Wood-epoxy filler comes in two separate parts. Mix these two components together in a stainless-steel or ceramic bowl, and set it close to your work area. You must work quickly because the wood filler will dry out once exposed to air.

Step 3 – Fill the Hole With Wooden Material

Filling Small Holes

For a hole less than ½ inch in diameter, use toothpicks to fill the hole. Dip the broad ends of the wooden toothpicks in the wood filler, and insert them into the hole. Add toothpicks until the hole is completely filled to its edges. Use more toothpicks between toothpicks, so that there aren't any gaps. Be careful not get any of the wood filler on the rest of the door or on any other surface.

Filling Large Holes

For larger holes .05-1.5 inches, use a wooden dowel, wooden cork, or a custom-cut piece of wood to fill the hole. Line the hole with a thin layer of wood epoxy filler, insert the wood plug, and add more wood filler to fill the hole to surface level.

Step 4 – Allow to Dry

Let the wood-epoxy filler dry to a solid finish. If you used toothpicks, carefully snap off or cut the end with shears. Do not tug or bend the toothpicks while removing their tops.

Step 5 – Sand the Hole

With your sandpaper, sand the filled hole until it's smooth. If you can still see toothpick points, apply a thin layer of wood filler across the hole.

If you are going to attach door hardware at a new location, refinish the surface of the hole with wood stain, and varnish or paint the area to match the rest of the door surface. If you are going to install the hinge or handle at the location of the hole, you can leave the area as is.