Several of you have sent in the tip of using sawdust or wood shavings, mixing it with glue to make a putty, rather than buying a commercial putty. So I put my props maker to work. Using all the same wood shavings, but three different glues he got three different results. First a tip he came up with, put the dust into the glue, not the glue into the dust. The latter just makes a ball that is hard to mix. Going the other way, there is always more glue than you need until you get to the right mix. It is like mixing flour into water, rather than water into flour.
The white glue did in fact go transparent and leave the look of the putty much like the look of the wood used in it. The yellow carpenter's glue came out much darker. The outdoor waterproof wood glue came out even darker.
If the white glue/dust mixture was simply varnished, it came out looking quite similar to the solid wood. But all of them demonstrated problems when staining, because the glue won't take a stain while any exposed wood will.
I am really not very excited about this practice because so many good putties exist. Of course if you are comparing this to the old fashioned "plastic wood", the glue and dust wins. I really can't find a good use for plastic wood. You can get outdoor wood filler from LePage that won't shrink at all, is water resistant but takes a stain well and is good for filling large holes. You can get indoor coloured fillers to match your furniture, avoiding the need for stains.