I am making a toy car with nails for axles and plastic wheels. The block of wood had a thin, 1/4" groove in for setting the "axles" into for a car. (about the kerf of a blade). Unfortunately, these grooves are too large for the nails and positioned perfectly for the wheels locations.

Is there an easy compound I can use, and then re-drill to fill the holes to make use of the block again?

  • 1
    Do you mean 1/8", since that is what saw blades are?
    – bowlturner
    Mar 26, 2015 at 14:13
  • +1 for knowing the saw width... it was a guess at the 1/4", and then an afterthoughts for adding the kerf as a "visual" to what I was talking about. the actual width varies, and the size doesn't "really" matter as what matters is it is bigger than I need and I am looking to fill the void and start again.
    – Phlume
    Mar 26, 2015 at 15:27
  • Ya, the real problem was it was too big, but I thought that was a WIDE blade! ;)
    – bowlturner
    Mar 26, 2015 at 15:33
  • @bowlturner, a 1/4" dado stack perhaps? :) But if I'm reading the OP's question right, it's more likely between 1/8" and 1/16", since it sounds very much like a pinewood derby kit. Wikipedia says the holes/slots are the width of a #44 bit (0.086 inch decimal equivalent).
    – Doresoom
    Mar 26, 2015 at 16:58
  • @Doresoom that makes sense
    – bowlturner
    Mar 26, 2015 at 17:01

2 Answers 2


@bowlturner gives a good suggestion, but with pinewood derby cars (I'm assuming?) it's going to be really hard to get a dowel to sit well since the slot is at the edge of the wood. I'd probably dado a larger groove where the nail slot is (maybe 1/4 in deep and 1/4 in wide) and cut a piece of wood that size and glue it in. You could try wood filler, but I've had mixed results with that and it almost always looks lame when painted over. And, it will not be nearly as strong as a dado'd piece.

But, whether you use bowltuner's suggestion or mine, the recommendation is basically the same--hallow out the "defect" into a shape that's easily managed, cut a piece of wood that same shape, and fasten it with wood glue.

  • The wood filler I've used (DAP plastic wood) is actually much stronger than wood. But I don't tend to have good results if I try and fill the entire hole in one go. As for painting, if prepared properly (thorough sanding and primer), you shouldn't see it through paint. It is, however, very noxious. So make sure you are properly vented. Mar 26, 2015 at 15:43
  • @guitarthrower--good points. The problem that I always have with wood filler is that it's very hard to tell until after you've painted that you don't have a consistent surface. I suppose I could put more effort into it (e.g., look through reflected light, do the "blind test" by running my fingers over it), but I'd rather just use wood.
    – dfife
    Mar 26, 2015 at 15:46
  • 1
    Intersting thoughts. either way, I think careful preparation is key :) Mar 26, 2015 at 15:48
  • +1 it is pine wood derby... wasn't sure of the international understanding of it, so I omitted it.. but yes. the groove is too big for the nail.
    – Phlume
    Mar 26, 2015 at 16:07

In this case I would tend to use a dowel, drill a bigger hole that matches the dowel and glue the dowel in, then recut or drill a hole for the axle.

If it is a long cut, then you could try a small 'wedge' to do the same thing.

  • 4
    Just used the dowel technique, I embraced the mistake instead of hiding it by choosing a darker wood for the dowel. It looks awesome can turn a mistake into an enhancement.
    – treeNinja
    Mar 26, 2015 at 14:43

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