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Dutchman Wood Repair

Learn how to create a wood patch to fix defects in wooden objects.

Dutchman Wood Repair

A Dutchman is a wood patch or filler which replaces a damaged or missing area of any wood object. The procedure involves removing a symmetrical, squared area around the defect and replacing it with new wood. It is best to use wood of the same species, grain pattern and color as the original. An ideal Dutchman repair would use a piece of the damaged board for the patch.

Since sharp woodworking tools are involved, use extreme caution and care. A Dutchman repair is best made by an experienced woodworker.

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Steps

Step #1: Mark off area

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Mark the damaged area to be removed with a sharp pencil and square.

Step #2: Score

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Score the pencil lines 1/16” – 1/8” deep with utility knife and square.

Step #3: Remove the wood

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  • Remove the wood within the knife cuts with a sharp chisel or a combination of router and chisel to the desired depth.
  • Usually ¼” – 3/8” is sufficient … the thinner the patch, the easier it might someday be accidentally loosened and pried out.

Step #4: Create the Dutchman

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  • Cut the Dutchman with a chop saw or table saw rip to depth and chop saw cut to length.
  • This can be done with just a utility knife and steel square cut to depth and a chisel down the end grain to remove the piece. The repair piece should be 1/16” – 1/8” thicker than the depth of the repair.

Step #5: Fit it

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  • Ease the bottom edges and corners of the Dutchman with a few swipes on the sanding block and test fit.
  • If it is slightly too wide or long, make adjustments with the utility knife and sanding block. If it is too small, make another one.

Step #6: Glue it in place

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  • When the patch piece is a nice tight fit, put a fairly generous amount of wood glue in the bottom of the hole and press it in place.
  • Tightly run a piece of blue (easy to remove) masking tape over the Dutchman or use a clamp to secure it in place.
  • If you clamp against the finished piece, be sure to use a caul (scrap of wood) between the clamp and piece to protect it. Allow to dry overnight.

Step #7: Make it flush with the original surface

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Carefully chisel and sand the Dutchman to flush with the original piece surface.

Step #8: Re-finish

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Re-finish the repair area to match.

Craig Cochrane

Craig Cochrane

Craig Cochrane is a former U.S. naval officer, a general building contractor, and a woodworker. He’s currently building a one-and-a-half story architecturally detailed carriage house.


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