How to repair holes in wood moulding?

artemis78March 1, 2013

Not sure if this is the right forum for this, but I'm trying to figure out how to patch wood moulding. We have painted oak moulding that had wiring running through it with switches; we've moved all of that to the wall, so now we have a bunch of trim with lightswitch-sized holes in it. I know how to patch nail holes and the like, and I know how to patch lath-and-plaster walls, but not at all sure how to go about tackling large holes in the wood.

Any suggestions? Luckily the trim is already painted anyway, so we will just be painting over the repair, but would like to get it as clean/unnoticeable as possible. Best thought thus far is to cut a patch out of extra wood and somehow secure it into the hole, and then Bondo around that before sanding and painting, but not sure that's the way to go. Thanks!

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You could make a template that is bigger than the hole, and then with the router with a bearing bit make a shallow cut. for the patch to sit on the ledge Then make a patch to fit, and glue.

Either that or get new moulding, or use electrical outlet covers.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 10:14PM
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Thanks--this is sort of what I'm thinking of doing since we have the old electrical boxes sitting inside the moulding, which form an 1/8" ledge. Trying to avoid replacing the moulding (lead paint-laden with plaster walls nearby!) We have electrical covers on now but it's obviously not very finished looking. Sounds like the patch idea may work, though!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 1:25AM
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Using a router on any wood with lead based paint is a TERRIBLE idea. And, depending on your location, it can be illegal.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 4:58AM
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Yes, that's why we want to avoid cutting or removing the moulding. It sounds like the gist of the idea will work, though, since we already have a ledge for the patches to sit against. Will give it a try and see how it turns out!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 9:58AM
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Bondo is harder to work than the more expensive Minwax high Performance wood filler.

Epoxy fillers would probably be the least expensive besides Bondo.

For large areas like it appears you have, i would make a mold using the face of an intact portion of the molding, then use that to help form the patch.

Cover an intact section with some wax paper, make a little box to hold some patching material at least 1/2 inch thick (at the thinnest spot), and then put s small piece of plywood on the back of the patch material for strength.

Let it dry, then pull it off.

It should easily separate at the wax paper.
Cut the mold as close as you can to the hole sizes you have, then after putting some backer in the hole, cover with patching material, cover the mold with plastic wrap, ten push it into the material to set the shape.

The better you do here, the less detail handwork with carving chisels and grinders you have to do later.

I had an older house with 6+ inch wide door casing (the old built up stuff) that had been hacked to put in dead bolt strikes (along with holes in the door stiles).

Minwax High Performance Filler and a lot of molding and carving.

Under a coat of primer and two coats of gloss paint you could not tell there had ever been any damage.

This post was edited by brickeyee on Sat, Mar 2, 13 at 14:52

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 2:48PM
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Great--I will look for the Minwax filler. We don't need a huge amount of it so willing to get something pricier if it will make the job go more smoothly. Fortunately we have very, very simple flat Arts and Crafts moulding so no worries about handwork to match anything--just have to get a flat surface to paint. And a previous owner who moved one of the switches in the past did go the route of throwing a plate over it and painting it, and it blends right in--so there's that!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 7:27PM
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Lead based coatings is not illegal for the homeowner to mess with...perhaps unwise, but not against EPA rules, unless things have changed. EPA governance over a DIY project would be unthinkable.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 10:28PM
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I used the stripper with the paper you put over it, which is approved for removing lead paint. You could just strip that area, so you will not have lead dust when finishing the patch.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 11:39PM
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Thanks all. Yes, we're well-versed in the lead laws and lead dust containment (we have a toddler, an old house, and lots of renovation projects!) While homeowners are not subject to the EPA regulations, we generally follow best practices for dust containment anyway, whether we're dealing with the areas with lead or not. But in this case, the plan is not to disrupt the existing paint at all if it can be avoided (will spiral into a much bigger paint project if we do). We'll see how it goes!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 12:34AM
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"wiring running through it with switches; we've moved all of that to the wall"

I sure hope this means the wiring in the boxes you are covering is 'dead' electrically.

It does not have to be removed (or the boxes) just disconnected form any source of power.
Junction boxes with power in them MUST be accessible without damaging the finished surface of the building.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 4:08PM
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Ha, yes, not to worry! We just finished having the original knob-and-tube wiring in our home replaced; these are the electrical boxes that housed the old switches and wiring. New switches and associated wiring are all in the walls, rather than through the moulding (which was a pretty strange way to do it to begin with!) We plan to leave the old boxes and wiring in place, though, since they aren't harming anything by hanging out there, and the boxes are nailed in, so removing them likely *would* do some harm. Nothing is live. Thanks for the warning nonetheless, though!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 10:13PM
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