Fix medium to large holes without replacing the whole floor board

Sanding jobs always have surprises.

So, you’ve taken on a floor sanding project. You’re smart, you’re confident, and you’re ready to sand. But you pull up carpet in that last room and find a problem like this: 

Carpet stretcher gouges.

Lots of hardwood floor had carpet laid over them in the 1950s and 60s. Hardwood floors were so out of fashion at that time, that the carpet installers never imagined that they should TAKE CARE as they dug their knee-kick stretchers into the wood floors.  

Cord and cable holes.

Things you find when you move a cabinet. This was under the main counter at the Pete’s shop.

Are all your sanding hopes dashed?

You may be strong and confident about this project, but you are no carpenter. Is there an easier way to fix problems like these? And will the fix still look good AND keep you on schedule? 

The easiest way to repair a flaw in a hardwood floor is to turn it into a circle first.

As long as you can turn the problem into a circular hole, you can buy or drill a piece of circular wood to fill that hole. You don’t need to buy a table saw or a chop saw (unless you want one). You probably have an auntie who already has the right drill bit or hole cutter. 

For smaller areas, up to an 1″ in diameter, use a ready-made, face-grain dowel plug. We don’t recommend using slices from a regular dowel because those will be end-grain and are more porous than the grain of your actual board. Plugs like these will take finish differently and stand out more after the floor is done. 

Of course we sell these! 

And, as you saw in the photo above, pre-made face-grain plugs are tapered, so you don’t have to match your drill bit exactly to the wood circle. 

Initially, they looks worse.

Some smaller gouges will have to be drilled out to a larger hole size. This is perfectly fine.  

But they disappear after sanding.

Try to orient the grain lines on the plug to match the grain of your board.

But what about those BIG holes?

Now it’s time for a circle cutter. Watch this video and call your auntie with the good drill. 

Come on down to Pete’s in St. Paul if you need boards for cutting custom circles! We carry red oak, white oak, and maple for all your patching needs.

“I can just use filler in those holes.”

You could, but please don’t. Filler has its place, but it is a very small one. Filler in a hole larger than 1/4″ looks hideous. We are pretty judgey about this. Here’s a photo of why: