Hole Filler to Match Wood that Turns Color with Age

So filled nail holes won't stand out after wood ages, use a filler made with sanding dust. January 9, 2007

On occasion we have to fill nail holes, cracks, etc., so I have color matching down quite well. I am currently working on an executive size desk and it is made out of osage orange, also called bodark (spelling?). This wood right now is rather a bright yellow, and ugly. However in the sun it will eventually turn brown. While I don't expect the desk to be in the sun, I know that it can still eventually turn. So if I match the color now, it could be a bright sore thumb in the future. I am mainly concerned with nail holes in the trim work. Does anyone have suggestions? I really don't want this to bite me on the back side a couple of years down the road.

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor J:
All I can think of is this: if not nailed yet, drill and counterbore, then screw on and plug 'em. If nailed, same thing, except set them deeper and offset the center of drill and make plugs again. This way you can finish as normal and they should age the same.

From contributor G:
Try hide glue mixed with fine osage orange sawdust.

From contributor B:
Try whatever finish you're going to use mixed with the sawdust. Work it into a clayish consistency. Plug the holes with it.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the info. I thought about using the glue routine after the post, though I didn't think about using the finish. I think that's what I'll do.

From contributor T:
Sanding dust is preferable to sawdust.

From contributor B:
Thanks for the correction - I meant to say sanding dust. I usually save some of the sanding dust from my p/c's dust port in a paper cup instead of emptying it in trash can just in case of dents, dings, etc.

From contributor S:
Make up a sample with your filler and set it in the sun. You will quickly have your solution. Osage orange is highly UV reactive. It will turn reddish orange/brown in a week or less. In fact, I'm not sure that you can keep it from darkening. You might post to a bowl turning forum. Our big local sawmill won't part with a single piece of it, as all they get goes to bowl turners. Hidden fasteners or plugs would be the way to go.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for all the input. I opted to use sanding dust (I knew that's what you meant). I mixed it with pre-cat, which will be the final finish. For me, logic (not that it always works) dictates that using the same finish for the filler should cause the holes to age at the same rate. Unfortunately I don't have time to do an age test. This was all a last minute realization. The desk is due to be delivered Thursday.

Just as a side note: I have worked with quite a few different woods and after working with osage orange/bodark, I have come to this conclusion: I hate it, and there will be a 500.00 up charge on future projects just to work with it!