If you’re trying to install a new handle or hinge on your cabinet door, your new installations will be placed in a separate location on the wood. As a result, the screw holes from any prior hinges and handles will have to be filled in. These holes will appear very ugly and unseemly if left unplugged, but how exactly do you go about getting rid of these holes?

To fix screw holes in cabinets, you need to have clean holes that you can fill with either dowel rods or wood filler. For a cleaner finish, you can paint over or stain the filled holes.

For a thorough step-by-step guide on how to fix screw holes in cabinets left from handles and hinges, keep reading this article.

1. Wipe the Screw Hole Down

Before you start filling the holes, you need to ensure that there are no chipped off paint or wood splinters near or inside the holes. Do this by following the steps below:

  1. Get a damp cloth and furiously wipe around and inside the hole to remove debris.
  2. If needed, use a knife for better access.
  3. Dry with a fresh paper towel to prevent the moisture from negatively affecting the wood’s physical properties.
  4. Be sure to run a vacuum over the holes to ensure that they’re clean.

2. Fill the Screw Hole With Wood Filler or Dowel Rods

Once you have a clean hole, it is time to fill it up. This can be achieved through a variety of ways, including:

  • Wood filler or putty
  • Dowel rods

This guide will elaborate on how to use these methods to fill your screw hole.

Using Wood Filler

You can use this Minwax Stainable Wood Filler to fill your hole. It comes with a hardener that you need to add to your filler to help it dry fast. A good rule of thumb is to use a golf-ball-sized filler to an inch of hardener.

  1. Mix the two parts using a putty knife.
  2. Apply the mixture liberally in the hole and around the area.
  3. Wait for the filler to dry.

When using this wood filler, be sure to have all your materials prepared as it dries very quickly.

Using Dowel Rods

In this method, the dowel rod is meant to be put in the hole to fill it up. A dowel rod is a cylindrical piece of wood commonly used as structural reinforcement in various furniture-related applications.

However, you need to measure the hole’s diameter first so that you can purchase the correct size to fill your hole. This can be done by:

Using a Small Ruler

You can use a ruler that measures millimeters or inches and line it up with the hole to know the diameter. If you don’t have a ruler that measures accurately, you can buy this Adoric Digital Caliper.

Measuring the Screw Used to Fill the Hole

If you still have the screws used to fill the hole, use a ruler or measuring tape to find the length and diameter. You can follow this guide by Fastener Superstore to learn how to measure the screw.

Once you know the dowel rod’s diameter that you have to buy, simply head down to your local hardware store to buy it. You can also get it through online merchants like Amazon – simply type in the inches that you want.

For example, if I have a ⅜ inch screw hole diameter, I can find products like this Craftparts Direct Bag of ⅜ Wooden Dowel Rods to fill my hole.

Now that you finally have your dowel rod, you need to fill the hole. Here’s how to do so:

  1. Insert your rod into the hole.
  2. Make a mark where the rod needs to be cut.
  3. Take the rod out.
  4. Cut the wooden rod at the mark using a sharp object,.
  5. Put some wood glue in the holes using a small thin object like a toothpick. If you don’t have any, buy this bottle of Gorilla Wood Glue online.
  6. Place the wooden pegs in the hole.
  7. Use a blunt object to apply force to the pegs so that they slip fully into the hole.
  8. Put more wood glue on top of the filled-in holes.
  9. Wipe it off flat.

3. Sand the Hole Down to Get Even Surface

Once the holes are filled, sand them down to ensure that they are even with the rest of the wood. Before sanding them down, make sure that the wood filler or wood glue that you’re using on the dowel rods has dried.

Use sanding sponges to sand down the surface if you don’t have any sandpaper at home. If you do have sandpaper, wrap it around a wooden block or another firm material that is rectangular.

The pressure is distributed inconsistently through your hands when you sand without support. With a sanding block or sponge, the wood will have an even surface.

When sanding the hole:

  1. Rub the sanding block back and forth along the grain with even pressure. Avoid rubbing from side to side or in a circular motion.
  2. Brush accumulated dust away with a brush or a mini vacuum cleaner.
  3. Repeat the sanding process with fine sandpaper to smoothen the piece of wood further.

4. Paint Over the Hole So It Matches the Cabinets

Despite having a smooth and even wood, the naked eye will still detect a past hole. This is because the dowel wood rod or wood filler bought does not match your cabinet’s color.

How do you rectify this? It depends on your cabinet. If you have a painted wood cabinet, you need to find the appropriate color of wood paint to paint over the hole. To do this:

  1. Take a picture of the shade and upload it onto a paint manufacturer’s free application to find the closest shade.
  2. Go down to any hardware store and ask for a paint sample.
  3. Test if it is the right shade.
  4. Paint over the hole.
  5. Sand the painted area to ensure the coat is even.

If you have a stained wooden cabinet, your life is about to get a little complicated.

This is because wood stain reacts differently with different woods. The same stain on beechwood is going to have a different color and texture to that on pine. If you have somehow managed to use the same type of wood as your cabinet to plug the hole, you can find the manufacturer who made the paint stain used for your cabinet.

Otherwise, you need to do it the old fashioned way and try a bunch of stainers that seem like they could produce the same effect on the new wood that you’re trying to put in a hole.

Here’s a list of steps to go about staining wood:

  1. Find the wood stain that matches the color of your wood cabinet. To do this, go to a paint shop and get some help from the staff.
  2. Stain the wood filler or dowel rod with a brush.
  3. Immediately wipe the stain off with a dry cloth.

5. Seal the Hole to Prevent Chips or Cracks

Use a wood sealer to prevent additional scratches or stains on your fixed hole. You can use this Minwax Urethane Spray Sealer to spray over your hole and give it a nice finish to prevent additional damage. Be sure to spray a sealer only once the stain or paint has dried.


Filling screw holes in cabinets is quite simple, but ensuring that they blend in is more difficult. To make your life easier, you should choose wooden dowels made of similar wood and color as your cabinet.

Customizable wood fillers are also available in the market, with some even changing color to match your wooden surface. Always pick wood fillers with the same color as your wooden cabinet for less hassle related to ensuring the filler blends.

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