Curious how you go about filling grain

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Blog entry by Rj posted 12-06-2009 03:28 AM 15949 reads 2 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve been working alot with Walnut and other open grained woods and was wondering how some of you go about filling the grain . Especially when you’ve laminated dark with light woods ,I don’t want the dark to fill the lighter wood grain or the lighter wood to fill the dark wood grain ?

-- Rj's Woodworks,San Jose & Weed Ca,

17 comments so far

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4758 days

#1 posted 12-06-2009 04:41 AM

well i see no one has offered you any suggestions…and i wish i could rj, but i don’t have any experience will this…i don’t think Ive ever had a problem with it…at least i haven’t noticed…ive had white woods with walnut before and after sanding didn’t notice a difference in it appearance…..well i hope you can get some intelligent input …hope your doing well also…..and have a wonderful Christmas

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

541 posts in 4936 days

#2 posted 12-06-2009 04:49 AM

There are a lot of sealers and grain fillers available that will fill the pours in the wood for you. I’ve always used a spray on sanding sealer. Usually a few coats of that, sanded smooth in between coats, will give you a great surface for your final coat of lacquer and a nice smooth surface finish. As far as cross “contamination” of dust being trapped in the opposing woods grain, I’ve just used compressed air to clear the surface before I start to spray. I hope this helps.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4796 days

#3 posted 12-06-2009 05:41 AM

air , then mineral spirit wash ( on rag ) ,
and a sealer ,
minwax has one that i want to try , it works for poly
and oil of course .
just use it as prescribed and sand in between coats until smooth .
wipe again with m.s. and apply finish as prescribed .

hope this helps .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View sedcokid's profile


2738 posts in 5053 days

#4 posted 12-06-2009 06:02 AM

I’ve not had any luck filling the grain on different types of wood.

-- Chuck Emery, Michigan,

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3896 posts in 4892 days

#5 posted 12-06-2009 07:26 AM

I’ve found that a ‘wood grain’ filler does a nice job. I love to use the oil type that is actually a wet crumbly past. Put it on with the grain with a rag and rub it off against the grain with a course rag like burlap. It looks especially good on mahogany. You can also tint a natural wood grain filler. Be sure to give it days of drying time before adding the final finishes.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Rj's profile


1047 posts in 5086 days

#6 posted 12-06-2009 08:00 AM

Thanks for the great advice guys, I’ll give them all a try !

Thanks again
Hope everyone has a Great Holiday Season !

-- Rj's Woodworks,San Jose & Weed Ca,

View cabinetmaster's profile


10872 posts in 5013 days

#7 posted 12-06-2009 04:06 PM

I’ve made a lot of things with dark and light woods and I never use any fillers. Never had a problem getting a smooth finish without a grain filler.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View bigike's profile


4059 posts in 4743 days

#8 posted 12-06-2009 04:30 PM

i have the Crystalac but didn’t use it yet and i do have some wood that has the open grain i’ll give it a try and if u still haven’t gotten the answer i’ll try to supply it but for now u can read the feedback for the product at to see if the crystalac is for u or u can try to get another grain filler and use that but just follow the instructions on the can.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View bibb's profile


333 posts in 4986 days

#9 posted 12-06-2009 06:43 PM

I use Beflens and ann Transtint to make it any color needed.
Works great

-- you may only live once, but if you do it right that's all you need

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1532 posts in 5580 days

#10 posted 12-06-2009 07:09 PM

So to y’all who dye your grain fillers, how do you choose a color? I’ve done some tests with mahogany and using oil pigments in the Behlen’s silica based filler, and every time I end up with something that’s too dark, the grain ends up popping out too much, because it looks very different wet than dry with a couple of layers of hand-rubbed poly over it.

And I’ve got a whole bunch of cabinet door panels that need filling. If I don’t tint the pore filler, will it end up looking too light, or will it look like the underlying mahogany?

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

27696 posts in 4560 days

#11 posted 12-06-2009 07:20 PM

If I am going to stain the project, I use Bix Stain filler. It is a powder that you mix with water and then sand it when dry. If you have two woods together, chances are you do not pland to stain or you will lose the contrast. I have heard of Chrystalac and have been meaning to use it, especially on turnings where the end grain some times needs filling. Being clear, it might be the best thing for you to use on the laminated wood piece.

Good luck.. Let us know what you find to be successful!!


-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4789 days

#12 posted 12-06-2009 10:08 PM

One real good grain filler is plaster of paris. Just tint it to match your wood with artist colors and mix with water to a toothpaste consistency and rub it on with an old t-shirt and rub it off at the same time. Do small areas about 1 sq. ft. at a time. Make sure to clean the surface pretty good as you go or it will be a lot more difficult to get off later. this is a widely practiced method, so don’t worry about whether or not it works well.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Benji Reyes's profile

Benji Reyes

340 posts in 4533 days

#13 posted 12-23-2009 06:38 AM

If you plan to use a clear filler, use fine saw dust of the wood your working on to mix with it rather than tinting colors. That way you get a close semblance on the tones of wood.

-- Benji Reyes, Antipolo, Philippines, Instagram benji reyes

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4789 days

#14 posted 12-23-2009 11:38 AM

I think the best suggestions were from Autumn and Benji. I’m going to try that with my Mahogany box that’s been sitting around forever waiting for a finish. I thing Cabinet Master also had a good take on this, but I’m a little in doubt that you will get the same depth in your finish if you don’t fill.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View JSZ's profile


37 posts in 4517 days

#15 posted 01-06-2010 06:47 PM

If you really want to fill the grain (as opposed to using a shellac product as a sealer) I think you’ll be happy with one of the products designed specifically for that purpose. Sherwin-Williams makes an excellent product (Natural Grain Filler) as does Behlen’s (Pore-o-Pac). Both of these products are silica-based, which is transparent, but the solvent may slightly darken some woods. Either can be colored to fill the grain with a darker or lighter-colored filler. To protect the natural color of the wood, apply a wash coat of 1 lb. shellac (or a 1-lb. cut of SealCoat) before filling the grain. Follow the directions carefully, and be sure to get the excess off the surface of your project before it’s completely set up!

-- -- Do Good Work. Jeff Zens, Custom Built Furniture, Salem, OR.

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