But actually they are not. Apart from the similarity that they are both woodworking products, there are some differences in their applications and the way they are used.
Wood, as you know, is not perfect.
It has pores, grains, and other sorts of imperfections.
One of the most important qualities of good woodworking is correcting these imperfections or, in worst cases, making them look less obvious.
To do so, you need wood filler, putty, patch, and other such things.
One specific type I use and recommend is minwax wood putty.
It is also called plastic wood.
It is usually nothing but a combination of very fine wood dust, a binder, and a thinner.
Some types of wood putty are also known to contain pigment.
Filler is used to fill the pores in open grained woods such as oak, ash, rosewood, hickory, mahogany, and walnut.
It is also known as grain filler.
When it comes to wood filler, you have two choices - you can either go for water based filler or solvent based filler.
While solvent based fillers are certainly more popular than their water based counterparts, you need to be careful while using them, as the solvent fumes are not good for your health.
Water based fillers, on the other hand, are easy to use and do not have such problems.
Now, let us take a look at the major differences between filler and putty.
1. Filler is usually applied before staining. Putty, on the other hand, is applied after staining. This is why the putty you choose needs to match the color of the wood.
2. Putty is meant to be used only to seal up small imperfections like nail holes and very small gaps. Filler, conversely, is used to fill up large gaps and the pores in open grained woods.
When it comes to choosing the right kind of wood filler, there is an important thing you should look out for - adhesion.
After drying, it should not shrink or swell - irrespective of the temperature.
There are some very good solvent based and water based fillers available on the market today.
If used properly, they can give you excellent results.
If you want to make homemade putty or filler, you can do that too.
All you need for homemade putty is some fine sawdust and wood glue.
While this will not be as good as the commercial products available on the market, it is certainly good for fixing small imperfections in your wood work.
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