Using only hand tools and a drill, Tom Silva makes minor floor damage disappear with a simple and effective dutchman repair technique
You don’t have to replace an entire floorboard to fix a small chip or gouge. Instead, patch it with a new piece of wood, as Tom demonstrates here, and heed his advice for getting expert results.
STEP ONE // How to Patch a Chipped Wood Floor: Select the Patch Material
Find a scrap of wood of the same species as the flooring—in this case, Tom used a leftover piece of unstained pine flooring.
STEP TWO // How to Patch a Chipped Wood Floor: Dutchman Secrets
- Match the grain, not the stain. Choose a patch of the same wood as the flooring, with a similar grain pattern.
- Make the mortise fit the patch, not the other way around. It’s the smart way to get a tight fit.
- Plane a slight bevel into the patch’s bottom edges. The patch will then slide easily into the mortise and still fit tightly.
- Don’t sweat matching the floor stain. You can get the patch color to be close, but a perfect match? Not likely!
Shown: Tom Silva explains how to select a patch that will blend in with the existing wood grain.
Inset: The new patch fits seamlessly in the floor.
STEP THREE // How to Patch a Chipped Wood Floor: Cut a Patch to Rough Size
On the scrap, locate a portion that’s wider and longer than the damaged area and has a similar grain. Cut out a strip with a handsaw, as shown, and remove the saw marks with a block plane.
STEP FOUR // How to Patch a Chipped Wood Floor: Rip and Plane to Final Thickness
Mark a cutline down the middle of the patch edge, and make a rip cut along that mark, as shown. Smooth the cut face with a block plane. Trim one end square, then, holding it vertically, sand the end on 180-grit paper laid flat on the workbench. Check the end for squareness with a combination square.
STEP FIVE // How to Patch a Chipped Wood Floor: Mark the Mortise
With the patch placed alongside the damaged area, mark its length so that it’s a bit longer than the damage. Crosscut the patch at this mark, and square up the end as in Step 4. Now hold the patch firmly over the damage and score the floor around it with a utility knife.
STEP SIX // How to Patch a Chipped Wood Floor: Cut the Mortise
Using a Forstner bit slightly narrower than the patch, drill a series of -inch-deep overlapping, flat-bottomed holes within the score lines. Square the edges of the mortise with a chisel, then check that the patch fits and sits flush with the surrounding floor.
STEP SEVEN // How to Patch a Chipped Wood Floor: Stain the Patch
To ensure an even stain on soft or porous woods like pine or maple, wipe on a wood conditioner like Pre-Stain. Let the conditioner dry for about 15 minutes, then apply an oil-based stain and check its color next to the floor. If too dark, wipe it with paint thinner. If too light, apply a second coat after the first one dries.
STEP EIGHT // How to Patch a Chipped Wood Floor: Glue the Patch in Place
When the stain is dry, cover the mortise’s sides and bottom with wood glue. Press the patch into the mortise, and use a damp rag to wipe up any glue that squeezes out. After the glue dries, mask around the patch and apply two coats of polyurethane to match the rest of the floor.