Wood is a fantastic building material. It’s relatively easy to work with, it looks great, and if treated right, it can last for a long time too. However, wood can splinter, and this can happen during or long after the construction process.
Let’s get to it and talk about how to fix splintered wood. For the purposes of today’s article, we are referring to objects such as wooden stairs, walls, and decks.
First, Assess the Situation…
The first thing you want to do if you are having issues with splintered wood is to assess the situation for the severity of the splintering and other possible damage. The reason for this is because how you fix the splinters will depend on the cause.
You might have some small splinters just coming loose, you might have small splinters or chunks of wood that are missing, there might be moisture and rotting involved, or you might have large sections that are severely splintered and maybe even cracking.
So, first off, figure out what kind of problem you are dealing with, and then move onto the relevant following section on repairing splintered wood that matches your issue the best.
How to Fix Small Splinters
If your wood just has a few small splinters here and there, small and sharp pieces of wood that are still present and have not been ripped away, follow the repair steps as indicated below.
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
To fix small splinters that are still present, all you will need is a bit of high-quality wood glue, some wax paper, an old rag, and anything flat and heavy that can be used as a weight.
You may also need some sandpaper.
Step 2: Glue Down the Splinter
Pull up the edge of the splinter while being careful not to rip it off or out of the wood, and put a decent quantity of wood glue under it. Push the splinter down and then hold it down with your foot for a few seconds.
Wipe away any excess glue with your rag.
Step 3: Weigh It Down
You will need to let the wood glue dry, and wood glue, depending on the weather, can take anywhere from a few hours to over a full day to fully dry.
To do this, put a piece of wax paper over the repaired area, and use something fairly heavy to weigh it down.
Step 4: Sand
If necessary, now is when you would use your sandpaper to smooth things out.
How to Fix Missing Splinters
If the wood in question is splintered, but the splinters are missing, this is the guide that you should be following.
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
To complete this task, you will need a small chisel, some rough grit sandpaper, a high-quality wood filler that is just a little darker than the original wood, and a putty knife.
Step 2: Prepare the Area
Because the splinters are missing, you will need to fill the holes in with wood filler. To allow the wood filler to properly bond with the wood, you will first need to slightly repair the area.
Use your chisel to remove any other splintered or loose pieces of wood, and then sand the area down with some rough grit sandpaper.
Step 3: Fill in the Hole
Use your wood filler to fill in the hole until the area is flush with the rest of the wood. Use your putty knife to even things out. Allow enough time to pass until the wood filler is dry to move onto the next step. If you don’t have wood filler handy, check the other options of filling holes in wood.
How long it will take to dry will depend on the weather and the specific wood filler used.
Step 4: Sand
Now you can use some basic sandpaper to smooth the area out.
How to Fix Large Splintered Sections
If you have large sections of wood that are splintered and on the verge of cracking, follow the steps below to complete the fix.
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
To accomplish this task, you will need a jigsaw, a hand saw, or a small circular saw (if the splintering is severe, you will need to remove the splintered section (and possibly more), so you need to choose the saw that can best fit into the space that you are working in.
If you are working with something like a wooden patio or deck, you may also need a power drill to drill a pilot hole first, so you can insert a jigsaw blade for section removal without damaging the surrounding area.
You will also need some new wood (the wood that you will use to replace the sections that need to be removed), whatever you used the first time around is probably best. You will also need either a hammer and nails (or some screws), as well as sandpaper, and whatever stain, varnish, or lacquer you used to seal the wood the first time around.
Step 2: Remove the Damaged Section
Assess the damage. You will want to remove the damaged piece and a bit more, about 2 inches to either side of the splintering. You want to remove more than what is visibly splintered to the eye because chances are that the damage has already spread further than what you can see.
To remove the damaged wood, you may first need to use your drill to drill a pilot hole, so you can then insert your jigsaw blade. Insert your jigsaw blade and make the cut to remove the damaged section.
Step 3: Cut the Replacement
Measure the length of wood that has been removed, get your new piece of wood, mark the required length, and then use the saw of your choosing to cut it down to the appropriate size.
You will probably need to sand down the edges to ensure smoothness.
Step 4: Stain
With your new piece of wood cut out, use the same stain, finish, varnish, or whatever else you had on your deck to begin with, and finish the new piece so it is sealed.
Step 5: Attach the New Piece
Using either a hammer and nails or a power drill and some screws, attach the new piece to the rest of the wood at both ends.
How to Fix Splintered Wood That Has Rotted
If the wood is not just splintered, but also rotted, you’ve got a serious problem, but not one that is unsolvable.
Step 1: Assess the Damage
Here, you need to figure out if it is just a small layer or section of wood that is rotten, or if the rot has spread beyond your control. If the rot is not very severe and has not spread too far, move onto step three. If the wood is completely rotten, go to step two.
Step 2: Replace the Rotten Wood
We aren’t going to go into detail here. If you need to replace a whole section due to rot, simply follow the exact same steps as you would follow to replace large splintered pieces (the section above).
Step 3: Gather Your Materials
If the rot has not gone all the way through the wood, you can repair it with a chisel, some wood filler, a putty knife, an epoxy pre-treatment, and some sandpaper.
Step 4: Prepare the Area
Use your chisel to remove any moist or rotten wood. You need to remove all wet wood. Apply the epoxy pre-treatment to stop the rot from spreading.
Step 5: Fill the Hole
Use the wood filler to fill the hole, and then use the putty knife to even it out. This will need around 24 hours to dry.
Step 6: Sand
Finally, to make things nice and smooth, use some sandpaper and get to work.
Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks
Finally, let’s quickly go over a few essential tips that you need to follow to achieve the best results when fixing splintered wood:
- It’s always better to remove more wood than too little. Splintering can go deeper than you can see, and there may also be structural issues close-by that the splinters have caused.
- If you are dealing with rotten wood, make sure to keep removing wood until you get to an area that is 100% dry, and never forget to use the epoxy pre-treatment to ensure that the rot does not continue to spread.
- If the damage is too severe, it’s probably easier to make replacements rather than repairs.
- Always wear protective eyewear to ensure that no splinters get into your eyes when working with wood.
- Always follow proper safety procedures when using power tools such as drills or saws.
As you can see, fixing splintered wood is not hard, but you do need to use the right technique according to the type and severity of the damage.
With the above information, you should be ready to get to work. Additionally, you should also consider reading my article about stopping wood cracks from spreading.