How to Fill Dated Carving in Furniture & Give it a Modern Look

If you’ve recently bought a dresser or wardrobe from the thrift store or a garage sale, you can be both the winner and the loser.

You can be the winner because you got just the right size and shape you’ve been looking for and the loser because the design and outlook are just quite outdated. The carving on it is too flashy, and the color doesn’t match with other furniture.

However, buying brand new furniture with updated design can be quite expensive. Why don’t you turn your old furniture into a new one by filling the decorative carving and doing some creative painting?

This DIY idea is quite cheap and can be done quickly using a few tools. All you need are a little patience and some creative ideas.

Things You Need

Before you begin working on this project, you must learn about the tools you’re going to need. All of them are readily available and simple to use.

Wood Filler

Wood filler or putty is one of the essential components of woodworking. It aids you in covering the dated carving and building a new surface for painting and artwork.

Using the wood putty is quite straightforward. Just take an adequate amount in your hand and press it to cover the carving.

Thick Stripper

It is another essential tool for removing paintings. If you have a thick coat of paint on that furniture, a thick stripper can remove that without damaging the furniture.

Thin Stripper

You will need a thin stripper to give a finishing touch after removing paintings. There will be some residue left, which can be easily removed with this tool.


A good sander will help you to smooth the surface. You can use sandpaper or a machine sander for this task.

Sanding Block

If you use sandpaper to smooth the wood surface, we recommend you use a sanding block. This all-purpose block can help you hold the paper securely and allow you to smooth even a curved surface.

Stain Remover

Things can get messy and dirty if you’re an amateur. That’s why you should always keep a stain remover with you. If you see any kind of debris or stain on the finished product, just spray it and wipe it.

Latex Gloves

Wearing gloves during woodworking can protect your hand from dirt, crud, varnish, paint, etc. Always wear good quality latex gloves before you start working.

Wood Primer

Wood primer comes with high-solids content. It helps fill in the wood grain to create a smooth surface for the painting.

Tips to Fill Decorative Carving in Furniture

Whether you have an old shelf or dresser from your grandma or just bought one from the garage sale, it’s time to give it a new look. The following tips will help you complete this project nicely.

Step 1: Cleaning

Before you start covering the old design, clean out any crud that may have built up in the cleft. You can do it by using soap water and a small brush. If you don’t have a brush at home, an old toothbrush will do just fine.

After cleaning, make sure it’s completely dry before you proceed for further steps.

Step 2: Filling

Once the wood is dry, start pressing the wood putty or filler into the carvings. Prepare the filler according to the instructions on the packaging. Use a knife to rub off the overflow of the putty to create a smooth surface.

You need to repeat the filling and scraping process a few times until you have a duly filled and smooth surface.

Step 3: Sanding

Even if you put enough putty and rub it off with a knife, the surface may not be smooth enough. That’s why you need to sand it to ensure a subtle finish.

Take heavy quality sandpaper (like 100 grit) and slap it onto the wood. It will give you a reasonably smooth surface by aggressively removing excess putty.

However, if you’re planning to paint it later, use medium grit (150) sandpaper. Give finishing touches with a low-grit (like 220) sandpaper, and your furniture is ready for the painting.

Step 4: Priming The Wood

Wood priming is a crucial step before painting that shouldn’t be skipped. If you start painting without priming the wood, there’s a high risk that the paint will be soaked up by the unfinished wood.

Use a brush or spray to apply the primer and wait for it to dry. One coat will be enough to make it ready for the painting.

Step 5: Painting

Now take one or more colors of your choice and paint it. You can use a brush or sprayer to do so. Also, if you’re creative enough, you can get some acrylic paint and do some artwork on it.

Now let the paint dry and admire that beautiful creation.

Precautions to Follow

Although it’s a relatively safe project, things can go wrong if you’re not careful. That’s why you need to follow some precautions to stay safe during this entire project.

Wear Protective Gear

Wear work gloves (preferably rubber), a dust mask, and safety goggles when sanding, scraping, or using any harmful chemical. Also, don’t forget to wear a respirator if your workplace isn’t adequately ventilated.

Use Paint Without VOC

Some paints and paint products come with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can be extremely damaging to your health. Whenever possible, opt for those that don’t contain such chemicals because their fumes are much safer to breathe.

Don’t Use Blunt Blades

Using a sharp knife is necessary when you’re scraping off the extra painting from the wood. If you use a dull knife, you will have to press harder, and the knife may bind or kick back.

Avoid Any Fire Hazard

Never paint or store the solvent-based paint near any heat source such as a fireplace or water heater. Do not smoke while painting. Avoid using any type of heat gun indoors. Also, make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy.

Final Thoughts

Painting is quite fun and can be used to make beautiful and unique crafts. Especially, things can be fascinating when you can use your creativity to turn outdated furniture into new ones.

This DIY project to fill the old wood carving is pretty simple and doesn’t cost you much. All you need to do is to collect the required tools and follow the instructions, and you will be ready with a brand new item for your home.

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