Crystalac Grain Filler

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Review by vicrider posted 07-08-2010 08:46 AM 28428 views 24 times favorited 39 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Crystalac Grain Filler No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I have recently discovered a product called Crystalac Grain Filler (Rockler, Amazon). It is water based, easy to apply, dries clear and will fill open grain woods like Oak, Walnut, and Koa in 2 or 3 coats. It is the consistency of loose toothpaste and costs about $25/qt. But a quart will last a loooooong time. IMHO, it is hands down the best grain filler I have ever used. It is not granular, doesn’t require thinning, doesn’t need volatile chemical reducers, doesn’t require stain or color to match the wood (tho it can be colored with water or alcohol soluble dyes), and is, all in all, really easy to use.

I apply it generously with a small pad, then gently swipe off the excess (at 45 deg’s to the grain) with an old credit card. Sand it flush between coats; 220 or 320 grit. It sands easily when thoroughly dry (that is the real secret). Use a dust mask as it contains silica which is NOT good for your lungs. It requires 24 hours to dry each coat. I have a test piece of Walnut that you can shave in after using 2 coats of this filler and following up with gloss poly.

-- vicrider

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39 comments so far

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#1 posted 07-08-2010 12:02 PM

Good to know ….thank you for the review : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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#2 posted 07-08-2010 12:09 PM

thanks vic…..i have been wanting to do a project with walnut, but figuring out how to make the finish smooth and glossy was holding me back, seems like this might be the answer.

-- Measuring twice and cutting once only works if you read the tape correctly!

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Scott Bryan

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#3 posted 07-08-2010 01:24 PM

Thanks for the review. I have not had the opportunity to use this product but will have to take a look at it after reading this.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

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#4 posted 07-08-2010 01:54 PM

Thanks for the review. I’ll have to give it a try.

-- Charlie............Only time will tell if it was time well spent.

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Jon Spelbring

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#5 posted 07-08-2010 04:27 PM

Thanks for the review – I’ve been looking for a simple grain filler. I’ll give it a try.

-- To do is to be

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#6 posted 07-08-2010 05:13 PM

Great review I will try it this weekend. Rockler is having a big Garage Sale starting Sat., so I have to go by there,,, LOL

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

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#7 posted 07-08-2010 06:14 PM

I have used this product for many years now and I really like it, and all Crystalac products I have used,
Mc Feelys also carries can stain the wood before applying and the stain shows through just fine.

-- Smitty!!!

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#8 posted 07-09-2010 05:26 AM

Good Review, this is the best grain filler I know of. It also takes dye very well.

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#9 posted 07-09-2010 05:39 AM

thanks ,
i am so tired of all those fillers that they want you to wipe with burlap ,
i have never had them work ,
and they are to coarse too ,

i’ll give this a try .

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

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#10 posted 07-13-2010 03:19 PM

Is this ok for cutting boards/blocks?


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#11 posted 07-13-2010 05:07 PM

Good info, I have been pondering the grain issues on oak for a while now…

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179 posts in 3668 days

#12 posted 07-13-2010 06:33 PM

I would not recommend this product for cutting boards if they are to be used and not just displayed. I don’t think it is toxic but I wouldn’t want to eat it.

I would only use food grade mineral oil to finish cutting boards, but the one’s I make for my family’s use (currently 5 of various sizes) have no finish at all. they are used, washed, dried and occasionally sanded. If one gets really bad, I discard it and make another one, but I usually don’t make them fancy. Lots of the cutting boards I see on LJs are absolute works of art and I wouldn’t want to cut on them.

It is my belief, having made, used and given away 30 or 40 of them, that wood cutting boards made of maple, birch, or alder, when kept clean and dry, are safer and cleaner than the plastic ones.

-- vicrider

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#13 posted 07-22-2010 03:42 PM

I have oak cabinets (grains very evident) and want to paint white-oil base. Do I lightly sand, apply Crystalac woor filler, then apply primers, then paint? I’m somewhat confused. Thanks for a prompt reply. Frank

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179 posts in 3668 days

#14 posted 07-22-2010 05:09 PM

It is very important is to clean the cabinet surfaces thoroughly first. If there is any cooking oil residue on them (very common in kitchens), any finish will have adhesion problems. Once the cabs are clean, you can move directly to the filler since you will have to sand that anyway. Let the filler dry completely and it will sand easily.

A good primer like Kilz will seal the surface and help the new finish adhere. Then the finish coat.

Hope this helps.


-- vicrider

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179 posts in 3668 days

#15 posted 07-27-2010 12:54 AM

In my experience with using it straight from the container, it dries clear. I have not found it necessary to color or stain the product. I prefer a finish of polyurethane over a seal coat of shellac, and to me the filler just looks like the finish. My eye is not drawn to an accent color in the grain like with some granular fillers. My best results are with two sanded coats of Crystalac grain filler after a shellac seal coat. Then as many coats of clear finish as you prefer. I really enjoy creating a fine finish if that is appropriate for the piece.

At any rate, the best advice is to try it out on few scrap pieces before using it on a valuable project. It doesn’t take long as there is very little clean up and you won’t use up the container on test pieces. I have been very pleased with the results when using this filler. I can not say the same thing about other types of fillers.

Here are a few shots of a walnut test piece that has 1 coat of shellac, 2 sanded coats of Crystalac, and ONE coat of gloss poly. There are a few ‘fish eyes’ but these would be minimized by additional sanding and coats of finish. There are minute but still visible grain markings in the test piece but they would also fill. Since I was satisfied with the results I didn’t feel it was necessary to proceed any further.

Hope I get this right.

contrast between filled and glossed walnut and unfilled satin red oak.

Reflection in walnut test finish.

Reflection showing fisheye blemish

-- vicrider

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