Today I want to share with my new adventure and show you how to fill knots on wood. You see, I have knotty alder cabinetry throughout my entire house. Our house was built in 2001 and well…need I say more?

I was ready for a change.

Filling knotty alder holes

I like the shaker-like style of this vanity, so I decided to try my luck at covering the knots and painting the whole thing to achieve a smooth look. I am pretty happy with how it turned out!


How to Fill Knots on Wood

Materials Needed

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STEP 1- Wipe the Wood clean and let dry

I took out the doors and drawers fronts. The frame did not have knots so I only had to work on filling the knots on these pieces.

Filling knotty alder knots

STEP 2- Work the Putty and Apply it to the Knots

I worked the putty with my fingers until it got soft and workable, sort of like clay.

Filling knotty alder holes

I learned that less is more as I applied it. I worked it into the nooks and crannies and flattened it as much as I could with my fingers, trying not to use too much.

Filling knotty alder holes

The spot below was a little difficult and made me nervous. I just shaped the putty with my fingers until it was even with its surroundings. Then I crossed my fingers and said a little prayer!

Filling Knotty alder holes

STEP 3- Sand, Sand, Sand

After all of holes were filled and the epoxy putty was dry, I sanded, and sanded, and sanded some more. This is the most tedious, yet most important part. I used a sanding block so I could have better control, but honestly, if I was doing a bigger area I would start with my sander then use the block to finish off the jobI sanded each area until smooth. Smooth to me means that I run my hands over the area with my eyes closed until I don’t feel any ridges or dents, then I’m done sanding.

Filling Knotty Alder Holes

STEP 4- Apply Primer

I then applied 2 coats of B-I-N Shellac Base Primer & Sealer . Yes, it’s pricey but it does a great job and the reviews are pretty consistent across the board that this is the “go-to” primer to seal knots. I agree, it’s dang good stuff. After 2 coats I had a smooth surface to paint on. Yay! Finally!


Filling Knotty Alder Holes

STEP 5- Paint!

I applied 3 coats of Valspar Caramel Honey paint. Yes, three. It seems a little overkill but I wasn’t happy after the second coat. The third coat did the trick. This is a small piece. I bought the 8oz sample size and turned it into chalk style paint by adding chalk mix. If you want to know more about the chalk mix, check out my scrap wood pumpkins I finished with two coats of this top coat.

STEP 6- Finished! (and some disclaimers)

Are you ready to fill those knots?? It’s a bit of work but I think it was worth it! My little powder bathroom is a bit more updated now. And what do you think about those awesome crystal knobs?! They are so pretty and cheap!


A couple of disclaimers in before you try this πŸ™‚

Disclaimer #1 Most experts agree that knots might “bleed” over time and could come back years down the road, darkening up the area you filled.

Disclaimer #2 I have not tried staining the wood after filling the knots using this method, so I don’t know if it would work. Painting seems to work well though!

Update 12/2021- No bleed!

Thanks for stopping by!! If you like furniture makeovers I would love for you to check out my armoire makeover with milk paint!

Don’t forget to pin this for later!

Filling knots on wood

Your sister in sawdust,


PS…I’d would love for you to join my email list!


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Janice| Sawdust Sisters

Novice woodworker and serial Popcorn eater, Janice Thomas writes detailed tutorials that motivate others to "dare to try". Originally from Puerto Rico, Janice is fluent in Spanish and dreams of owning a beach house on the island someday! Janice currently lives in Utah with her husband and children, where she works as a university professor.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Lisa

    This turned out beautifully! I love the color you chose. It’s just the right shade in your space.

    1. Janice

      Thank you so much Lisa!

    2. Janice

      Toni you’re so funny! I know all about the procrastination game! πŸ™‚ thanks for kind words, and yes that primer is the bomb πŸ™‚

  2. That turned out great,my ou can’t even tell! I will have to get some of hat primer because I have a hutch from idea with knowpts all over it. I’ll have to inspect them first to see if they need any patching as well. I haven’t chosen a color yet and I’m procrastinating, as usual. LOL, not LOL ?

  3. Thanks for the great tutorial! I usually just slap paint on knots until it gets into every crevice. I need to up my game and fill them in properly. Your vanity looks perfect!

    1. Janice

      Haha thanks Vineta! These knots were pretty big. It would’ve taken a LOT of paint πŸ™‚

  4. Candi

    I am trying to be brave and paint my knotty alder kitchen cabinets. How has your cabinets held up? Have you had any bleeding through from the knots? This turned out great!

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