Sure, I know what you’re thinking after reading that title. “Wood filler and caulk for a paint job, right?” And yes, I agree – this is the simplest solution to covering up nail holes.
Yet one of the biggest problems with this is doing it too quickly, especially if you’re using a clear finish that might not match up exactly to the rest of the wood’s color. While this is difficult on its own, it’s still not the only possible problem.
Woods like cherry are going to change their color over time. Plastic putties are known for not changing these colors. This is why it’s difficult to find a putty color that matches up with how the wood color is going to look a few years from now.
There is a secret that many finish carpenters have been using for years. They hide nails using something that’s called blind nailing. Life the chip up, put in the nail, and then set it. Once this is done, glue the chip in, thereby covering the nail up.
Learning to lift up the chip is the trick. There are a few ways to go about it. They make a special tool that is dedicated to blind nailing. How does it look? Like a tiny plane with a blade on it, similar to a chisel.
Most woodworking stores will carry these. This tool quickly lifts chips up, which is what you want. A 1/4 inch chisel, or even smaller, is something you can use to copy the tool.
Face the bevel down while you keep the chisel parallel to the wood grain. Slightly raise the bevel off the wood and wiggle it forward. Lightly using a mallet to tap it also works. You want to curl the chip up without it breaking.
Grip the brad with a pair of needle nose pliers. You can drive it in using a tack hammer. You want to use the smallest brad you have so the wood doesn’t split.
Using a nail set, set the brad below the wood. After this, you want to use a toothpick to spread a single layer of glue. Then use your thumb to roll the curled up chip back in place.
Until the glue has set, hold down the glue with your finger. You’ll have to hold for a couple of minutes. In about an hour the glue should be dry. Once the glue is nice and dry, you can sand the surface until it’s nice and flat.