Top trick for working with reclaimed wood

beginner hobby how to recommendations sander small shop Woodwise woodworking

In my work as a reclaimed wood furniture builder I recycle aged lumber from old fences and barns. 

When sorting the harvested materials, I specifically pick out wood with unique character that will stand out on barn wood doors, tables, kitchen islands, wall planks and more!  I usually look for boards originally processed 50+ years ago by circular or band saws which leave behind patterned marks, the kind of character my customers love.  However, this character in the wood means an uneven surface which is not recommended for modern furniture. 

Harvesting timber

Barnwood fence

I use wood filler in my projects for two purposes:

  1. To amplify the character and saw marks

  2. To fill the low spots in the wood

Woodwise gallon bucket - front Woodwise gallon bucket - back

I have used Woodwise wood filler for a few years and I am prefer the Ebony color, which I purchase in the gallon buckets.  They also come in quart and 14-ounce containers. 

Their color options are quite expansive, boasting 16 options:

  1. Brazilian Cherry

  2. Cherry

  3. Coffee

  4. Ebony

  5. Golden Brown

  6. Gray

  7. Light Oak

  8. Mahogany

  9. Maple-Ash-Pine

  10. Red Oak

  11. Walnut

  12. White

  13. White Oak

  14. Purple Heart

  15. Natural Bamboo

  16. Dark Bamboo

All my timber is milled after I’ve scrutinized it for structural integrity and removed all nails.  From there it is cut down to the sizes required for my projects. 

Let’s say I am making a barn wood dining room table.

Table and matching bench 

After the table is assembled, I then take my ebony color Woodwise filler and cover the entire piece using a metal spatula. 


GOOD IDEA: If there are some deeper notches in the wood I fill those first and give them some time to dry before covering the rest of the wood.


When it all has been left to dry, anywhere from 15 minutes to overnight, I use my orbital sander to smooth out the entire surface. I start with a 120 grit sandpaper and then finish off with a 220 grit. 

Don’t forget about filling and sanding the sides and legs!   

Using wood filler

Now that the table has a flat and smooth surface, it’s time to make it shine!  Depending on my customer’s requests and style I may add a colored stain first.  I mostly finish my projects with a coat of Odie’s Oil.  First I rub one coat of Odies over the surface.  Then I leave it for an hour. Then I wipe of any extra before I buff it out to perfection. 

Finished table

Wood filler is SUPER FINE when sanded.  I compare it to an automotive dust.  You will not be sorry to have a good quality sanding system by your side when working with wood filler.  

Sanding wood filler

Ebony Wood filler after sanding


Woodwise Filler - Ebony - Gallon size 

Odies Oil 

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