Wedge It, Glue It, Fill It - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Wedge It, Glue It, Fill It

 In Chris Schwarz Blog, Schwarz on Workbenches, Woodworking Blogs

On one of my early workbenches (the $175 Workbench), a split opened at one end of its benchtop a couple weeks after assembly. It was about 1/8″ wide and a few inches long, but it might as well have cleaved the top in twain.

Everyone in the shop gave me a good mock , it was my first benchtop using Southern yellow pine. And I wanted to see if epoxy could , as my grandfather claimed , fix anything except overcooked swordfish.

So I filled the split with epoxy. The adhesive shrank out a bit. Then I filled it some more. That was 10 years ago, and the repair is still as flush and sound as the day I made it.

Today I face some bigger splits in this cherry benchtop, so my strategy is different. I cleaned out the two large splits with a putty knife and then faired the walls with a thin paring chisel. Then I glued in tapered wedges that I scavenged from some offcuts from the benchtop.

Now I’m off to the store to buy some stuff to color my epoxy black. Knife makers have suggested the following colorants:

1. Toner from a photocopier
2. Pigment used to color oil paints from the paint store
3. India ink
4. Testor’s model paints
5. Epoxy colorant from K&G
6. Ebony dust

I’m sure there are other options. But these are the ones that appeal to me. (Especially the toner dust. We have a metric buttload of that stuff here.) I’ll keep you posted.

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 15 comments
  • William

    A caveat about photocopier toner: most of the "dust" type toner is classified as hazardous; the secretaries in my department have to go through training before handling it. FYI

  • Michael

    My dad was a hardwood floor finisher for over 50 years. He taught me to make crack filler from the final sanding dust mixed with shelac and denatured alcohol. you can add what ever tint to this mixture you want. Of course, while this will do a fine job of hiding the crack, it probably won’t do much for holding it together like epoxy would. Maybe a combination of both would be best. Glue it first, let it shrink, then fill the crack that’s left with wood dust filler.

  • Dave

    Ok, lemme get this straight. A "buttload" would be one butt full of whatever it is we are measuring. A butt is two hogsheads, which were 63 gallons each, so 126 gallons… given a gallon is rougly 4L, so were looking at around 500L as a very round number.

    Notwithstanding the arguement of the exact size of a gallon at the time… I dare say that one buttload is, well, alot. I suppose I’m glad that it has little to do with the size of my, well, rearward parts. I suppose the newer low flush toilets can’t handle a real buttload then.

  • I think that should be "beer" gallon… don’t want to contemplate what a "bear gallon" might measure.

  • adrian

    The "butt" was a real unit of measure. No joke. It was equal to two hogsheads. The hogshead was 63 gallons. Of course, the wine gallon and the bear gallon were not the same size….and I’m not sure whether these units even survived the British measurement reform in 1824…

  • James Watriss

    A metric buttload would be the appropriate unit of measure for this project.

    The design is French, after all.

  • David

    "Metric buttload"?

    Do you have a conversion calculator somewhere on the website to convert that to something we all recognize? How much of a difference is there between the metric and the imperial measure? Is there a difference between the US measure and the imperial measure? Is it something that is subject to the usual metric delineations (ie. millibuttload, centibuttload, kilobuttload)?

    Just wondering.

  • Chuck Nickerson

    "Metric buttload"? I can’t wait to spring that saying on my wife. I’ll have to blame my knowledge of it on either you or my brother. She holds each of you in equally low regard, but for completely different reasons.

  • John Callaway

    OOOhhh… yeah. Paint it white! then glaze it with bartop finish.

    I some how sense there was just slight hint of sarcasm in that comment you made.

    I too was sort of expecting you to break out s few butterfly keys for this.

    Isn’t the key supposed to hinder the crack from continuing up the grain line? I see why the wedge is being used as a filler to have more wood and less epoxy showing , but what the mechanical benefits of the key itself?

  • Christopher Schwarz

    There are black mineral streaks in the bench. Might look cool. Might not. I’ve done repair of cherry with black tinted cyano and it looks very convincing.

    We’ll see.

    Heck I might paint the top white.


  • My question is why black?
    Why not use some of the cherry sawdust you no doubt have everywhere and mix it up with a two part epoxy? I used this method in the boat building days and it blends in really nicely- what better match than dust from the wood used!
    Just curious-

  • Chris F

    According to "" toner is only 3-6% carbon black and the rest is mostly plastic. A better option might be "lamp black" which is basically pure carbon.

  • Christopher Schwarz

    I might add butterfly keys, too.

    Heck I might dip the thing in bartop.


  • Just curious,Chris, why aren’t you using a butterfly key? It seems like that’s a common way to deal with checking in large slabs. Not that I doubt the ability of epoxy to fix anything.

  • Justin Tyson

    I use black food coloring. Works nicely. I’m sure it’s less work than acquiring a suitable quantity of ebony dust.

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