Q: I’m having problems matching colors using a stainable wood filler. A large dog left deep claw and teeth marks in one of my stained doors. When I patched the damage with wood filler and used the same stain that’s on the door, the repair area became much darker. Any thoughts?
A: Not all putty accepts stain the same way, but then, neither does all wood. If you plan to stain wood with putty in it, your best course of action is to first test the dried, sanded putty on a scrap of the same wood. That will tell you if that particular putty absorbs more or less stain than that particular wood. If it does not match, adjust the putty color accordingly by switching to a different color or by tinting the putty you are using.
Another option is to use putty that, after staining, is lighter than the wood surrounding it. The reason for using a lighter patch is that when it comes to touchup, it is much easier to make a lighter spot darker than to make a dark spot lighter. After the first coat of sealer or finish, go back and touch up the light area by adding darker grain lines, a layer of translucent color or both. Use touch-up markers, which you’ll find at most home stores, or use a fine artist’s brush paired with either thinned acrylic craft paint or the special touch-up powders and liquids sold at woodworking specialty stores.