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Pocket holes are a nice way to join pieces of wood with hidden screws that are sunken into the wood, rather than exposed on the surface. After you drill your pocket holes and insert your screws, you’ll probably want to fill in the pocket holes to hide them. This will give your woodworking project a finished, professional look. Covering up your pocket holes is fairly straightforward—you can actually buy special plugs made just for the job! You can also try using different fillers as an alternative. Either way, you’ll be able to hide those pocket holes in no time.

Method 1 of 2:
Using Pocket Hole Plugs

  1. 1
    Purchase a pack of wooden 38 in (0.95 cm) pocket hole plugs. Pocket hole plugs are basically pre-cut wooden dowels with 1 flat end and 1 angle-cut end. They will fit into your pocket holes straight out of the pack. Order pocket hole plugs online or purchase them at a home improvement center or hardware store.[1]
    • You can find pocket hole plugs in different common types of woods, such as pine and oak.
    • Pocket hole plugs typically come in packs of 50-100 that cost around $10 USD.

    Tip: You can also make your own plugs using 38 in (0.95 cm) wooden dowel. Just cut a piece of dowel into plugs that are slightly longer than the depth of your pocket holes. It’s not necessary to cut an angle at 1 end of the plugs, since you will be cutting them flush at the end anyways.

  2. 2
    Squeeze a dab of wood glue into each pocket hole. Insert the nozzle of a bottle of wood glue into 1 of the pocket holes and give the bottle a light squeeze until a dab of glue about the size of a pea enters the hole. Repeat this for each pocket hole.[2]
    • The wood glue will ensure a tight fit and keep the plugs securely in the holes.
  3. 3
    Insert a pocket hole plug, flat end first, into each pocket hole. Take a pocket hole plug out of the pack and push the flat-cut end of the plug into a pocket hole as far as it will go. Repeat this for each pocket hole.[3]
    • If you have a pocket hole jig, some jigs have a part that helps you push the plugs into the holes.
    • You can wipe away any glue that oozes out from the cracks between the plugs and the holes with a damp rag or you can wait until the end and sand the dried glue off, since you’ll be sanding everything smooth anyways.
  4. 4
    Let the glue dry for 30 minutes. Leave the plugs alone for the next 30 minutes or so, so the wood glue sets. The plugs will be securely in place after this.[4]
    • Wood glue cures fully in about 24 hours. However, it will be dry enough to proceed with the final steps after 30 minutes.
  5. 5
    Cut the plugs down to the surface of the wood using a flush cut saw. Hold the saw so the blade is flat against the flat surface of the wood. Place the teeth against a protruding pocket hole plug and saw off the protruding part, so the plug is flush with the wood surface. Repeat this for every plug.[5]
    • A flush cut saw is a double-edged saw that is made for cutting wooden dowels and other wood protrusions flush with a flat wood surface.
    • Be careful whenever you’re using a saw. Keep your fingers, hands, and other body parts away from the saw blade.
  6. 6
    Sand the plugs and the surrounding wood surface until they’re smooth. Manually sand the plugs and the wood surface or use an electric sander for faster results. Rub the sandpaper back and forth over the plugs and the surrounding wood until they feel like one uniformly smooth surface. Wipe the saw dust away with a rag when you’re done.[6]
    • If you already sanded your woodworking project, use the same grit of sandpaper that you last used for sanding on the plugs and the surrounding surface, so everything blends in. If you haven’t sanded everything yet, you can use something like a 120- or 180-grit sandpaper.
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Method 2 of 2:
Filling Holes with Putties

  1. 1
    Make a wood glue and sawdust paste to fill the holes for a natural wood look. Mix together wood glue and sawdust on a scrap piece of wood until it forms a paste. Use your fingers, a putty knife, or a scrap piece of wood to press the homemade wood filler into your pocket holes and let it dry for 30 minutes or so. Sand the filled holes flush with the surrounding surface.[7]
    • You can play with the ratio of sawdust to wood glue to find the right consistency. You’ll probably find that using slightly more sawdust than glue results in the best filler.
    • Use saw dust from the same type of wood as your woodworking project for the closest color match.

    Tip: If you haven’t drilled your pocket holes yet, save the sawdust that you generate when you drill them to mix with wood glue to fill them.

  2. 2
    Fill holes with wood putty for a close-matching, no-mix filler. Put wood putty on the edge of a putty knife and press it into the pocket holes.Scrape the edge of the putty knife over the filled holes to remove excess putty. Let the putty dry for 8 hours or longer, then sand it down to smooth it out and blend it into the surrounding wood surface.[8]
    • You can get different colors of wood putty, so choose a color that closely matches the color of the wood you are filling.
    • If you plan to stain the wood, choose a color of wood putty that is darker than the wood and more closely matches the shade of the stain you plan to use. You could also get a light-colored stainable wood filler that will absorb the color of whatever stain you use better than regular wood putty.
  3. 3
    Choose Bondo putty for a quicker-drying, smoother filler than wood putty. Mix the 2 parts of the Bondo together on a scrap piece of wood according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use a putty knife to press the Bondo into the pocket holes, overfilling them slightly so you can sand the Bondo down. Wait at least 30 minutes for the Bondo to dry, then sand it down until it is smooth and flush with the surrounding wood.[9]
    • Bondo is a type of auto body filler and all-purpose putty. You can purchase a 2 lb (0.91 kg) can of Bondo online, at a home improvement center, or at an auto supply shop for about $15 USD.
    • Using Bondo will result in an ultra-smooth finish. However, it will not absorb wood stain. You can, however, paint over Bondo putty.
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      Tips

      • The best way to fill pocket holes is with pocket hole plugs or wood dowels. This will result in a natural wood plug that looks and feels very similar to the surrounding wood surface and will accept whatever stain or finishing coat you want to use on your woodworking project.
      • Using some kind of glue- or putty-based filler is an easy alternative to using wooden plugs that requires slightly less work, but it will not match the surrounding wood surface as closely and may not accept all stains and finishes.
      • You can cut your own pocket hole plugs out of 38 in (0.95 cm) wooden dowel. You don’t have to make an angled cut at one end like the store-bought plugs have. Doing so will just create more work for you and won’t affect how you plug the holes.

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      Warnings

      • Be careful when using a flush cut saw. Keep your fingers, hands, and other body parts out of the way of the saw blade at all times.
      • The angle-cut ends of store-bought pocket hole plugs are pointy, so be careful not to poke your fingers when you push the plugs into the pocket holes. You can always wear work gloves to protect your fingertips or use a pocket hole jig to push them in.
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      Things You’ll Need

      Plugging Holes with Pocket Hole Plugs

      • Pocket hole plugs
      • Wood glue
      • Flush cut saw
      • Sandpaper

      Using Different Fillers

      • Wood glue (optional)
      • Sawdust (optional)
      • Scrap piece of wood (optional)
      • Putty knife (optional)
      • Wood putty (optional)
      • Bondo putty (optional)

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      wikiHow Staff
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      This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow's Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards. This article has been viewed 5,506 times.
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      Co-authors: 6
      Updated: June 27, 2020
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