• In this video, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva makes an undetectable repair in rotted wood.

    1. Use end nippers to extract any nails or screws from the damaged wood area.
    2. Nail 1x3 boards around the area to act as fences for guiding the router.
    3. Use a router equipped with a straight bit and guide bushing to remove the old wood from the damaged area. Hold the guide bushing against the 1x3 fences to produce straight, accurate cuts.
    4. Remove the 1x3s and square up the corners of the routed recess using a hammer and chisel.
    5. Mark the poplar patch to fit the routed recess. Cut the patch using a miter box and backsaw.
    6. Spread carpenter's glue to the back of the patch, then nail it into the recess using 1½-inch finishing nails.
    7. Set the nails and fill the holes with wood putty.
    8. Once the wood putty dries, sand the patch smooth with a random orbit sander fitted with 100-grit abrasive.
    9. Apply one coat of primer and two topcoats of paint to the entire area.
    • Difficulty: Moderate
      Requires mid-level carpentry skills, including routing wood
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      Video Directory

      Selected Topic/Section

      Tools List

      • hammer with nailset
        Hammer and nail set
      • 30-foot tape measure
        Tape measure
      • nippers
        End nippers or tongue-and-groove pliers, used to remove nails and screws from damaged area
      • router
        Router with straight bit and guide bushing, for routing rotted wood from damaged area
      • chisel
        Chisel, for squaring up routed recess
      • speed square
        Layout square and utility knife, used to mark cut lines on patch
      • miterbox with saw
        Miter box and backsaw, for cutting poplar patch to size
      • random orbit sander
        Random orbit sander

      Shopping List

      5/16-inch-thick poplar, used as a patch

      Carpenter's glue

      4d finishing nails

      Wood puttyScrap 1x3s, used to make fence for routing out damaged wood

      100-grit sanding disks

      Spray primer and topcoat paint