Reply by Rich

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Posted on Filling gouges prior to refinishing dining table top.

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4965 posts in 1096 days

#1 posted 07-13-2017 11:49 PM

You can steam a dent; it will do nothing for a gouge. A dent compresses the fibers and sometimes steaming will cause them to swell back up, but if wood is gouged out, it won’t work. Timbermate is a respected product, and you can blend colors to get a good match. I disagree with going darker — get it as close as you can and if it’s a bit too light you can darken it when you dye it by using extra dye on that spot.

Since it’s a tabletop, durability is key. I’ve switched to doing hard fills with a variety of fill sticks and grain markers. The result is extremely durable and virtually invisible, but it wouldn’t be worth getting into for just one job.

One tip is that irregularity along the edges of the fill is less noticeable than a clean, straight line. For example, if you are filling a round hole, it will blend in better if you take a knife or chisel and make it more elongated along the grain — not a perfect oval though. Same thing with a straight, clean gouge. By making the sides less regular, it will not be as noticeable because the eye is drawn to a clean line and it stands out. Again, go along the grain to help mask the edges.

I don’t know what kind of wood it is and how pronounced the grain is, but if your fill looks too even in color and stands out, you can take a fine artist’s paint brush and add extra dye to try to imitate the grain. It doesn’t have to be exact, but just enough so it doesn’t stand out.

Here’s a video that shows an example of what I’m saying. It uses burn-in sticks, but the concept of making the spot irregular is the same.

-- Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to sound smarter the faster they come at you.

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