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I learned a lesson this week. It takes no longer to work with good wood than it does to work with flawed wood. I had a piece of what I thought was nice walnut. After assembly and during sanding I realized it was brittle. There are several spots where the wood chipped out while being sanded with an orbital sander.


So I have several questions… at this point would you try to repair this? If so, how? Would you use glue & sawdust? A commercial filler?

It's a pretty nice looking box (hasn't been finished at all yet) so should I take the time to try to fill these flaws? Or should I finish it as is and give it away?


I could just keep it in the shop and put tape measures and pencils in it like my good friend Boxguy. I'd love to hear what you guys do when you have a substantial flaw in a project after putting in lots of time.

From now on if the wood is questionable it will be used for splines or cannibalize for the good parts.
Anyway, tips on fixing the flaws would be appreciated. Thanks!

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Sounds like a good opportunity to practice some repair techniques. If it turns out bad, not too much loss but you can figure out what works and what doesn't in case you have a problem on a one of a kind piece.
 

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I'd fix it…someway. Like darkone said…...practice opportunity.
 

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Try making a little chip to fill the biggest area. Then, if you can gather enough coarse sawdust from the chipped wood, mix it with poly varnish and fill the offending areas. If you fill with a mix of glue and sawdust, it will show when finish is applied. I have seen some pretty good cover-ups using this technique.
 

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Timbermate Grain Filler (walnut) would be the quickest and easiest fix but won't be a perfect match.
 

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That's a nice box and worth keeping, you could leave it as is or repair it using any of the LJs suggestions.

After checking out your pictures I have a question,

Have you made the box upside down?
 

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Yeah, that bottom looks to great to be hidden.
 

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Thanks everyone. Haha Robert- it is very pretty. It is a piece of veneer that I was playing with. I like it too. I need to try it as a box top. I'm still playing with methods to glue up veneer. I have been using titebond with clamps. It looks like it works, I just hope it holds up over time.

and wow… when I click on the zoom feature it really makes the flaws even more hideous! Like looking in one of those lighted magnifying make up mirrors!
 

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I have had to correct problems such as this before. If it was mine, I would fix it. Wood filler is nice or using a chip to fill the gaps then sand smooth. No way would I trash such a beautiful box. I bet corrected and finished anyone would love to receive it as a gift! ( including me!) Or we always need a box for our "special tools". But no way would I trash it.
 

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The one by the hinge, I would just sand out the best you can. For the other one, I would d a little relief carving there. Then make another matching one on the other side. You could add texture to the depression, and it might look really nice.

Otherwise, you could enlarge the spline, and install another spline.
Perhaps make them dovetail keys to remove more of the walnut material?
I would not try to fill the divots, that never ends well.
 

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Get your carving tools out and make a sculpted box…Carve the flaws right out of it.simple solution and good practice.
 

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I certainly wouldn't trash it. I agree with all the suggestions they have great ideas! Try one…...

Thanks for sharing!!
 

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Great box. I use CA glue and fine sawdust of the same wood. I bet you can match it up just fine. Too nice a box to give up on it. Thanks for posting.
 

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Great job on the box. Love the contrasting of the woods. I have had this problem in the past. On some, I put a decortive but small inlay, like the one by the hinge, but do it on both sides. Another trick I do, which prolly sounds really weird, but it helps to hid imperfections and strengthen the questionable wood, is I use a good, clear epoxy as the finish on the outside, and tung oil on the inside. I makes the finish look thicker, like a pour on finish, and really helps to hid smaller imperfections. I def would keep the box. The craftsmanship is top notch, and is something to be proud of and anybody would be proud to have this.
 

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I'd take it to my belt sander and remove enough material all around that the chip damage is completely gone. You will end up with thinner walls and a flawless finish.
 

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What a beautiful box Jerry, flaw and all. The box is that beautiful the flaw is canceled out…excellent work.
 

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If you look at the pictures, you can see the cross grain marks from the orbital sander. These have to be removed anyway, so you might as well fix the box (you did a really nice job). Start with 400 grit and work up until all is smooth - finish with 800-1000. Use an oil finish or satin finish - do not use gloss.

Your box will be fine. My rule of thumb - if you want it to look right, the finishing will take about 3 weeks when all is said and done.
 

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I would fix it,.......building boxes is a skill but, fixing errors like this is where the real skill comes in. lol
I would use bondo with a little color added. It will definitely stay in place and you can shape it to conform to the contour of the box.
 

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My father would say…
Fix what? Its wood, Its character.
If you want it to look like plastic, buy a plastic box from Wal Mart.

Love that guy. RIP
 

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Lots of great advice.

Woody…I used bondo once (on my project helicopter) and it worked great. If I could match the color it would be a perfect way to smooth it out. I often have blemishes that I can live with, but these are a bit much… I also like the idea of poly/sawdust mix. That sounds like after final poly coats maybe it wouldn't be so noticeable.
Thanks Jeff, I'll put you on the list. :)
Willie… I'd need a carving lesson first
Greg… If I had your talent there wouldn't be these blemishes! And… what tools would I need? A holey galahad or something?
Thanks Chuck & Medicine Man.
Hoss… what kind of epoxy? Recommendations? Thanks!
and LazyOak… The old timers may not have had all of our fancy stuff but they knew how to get it done didn't they? Thank you!
David, I have a 6" belt sander (that thing is vicious) but I never get the reults I want when sanding something wider than 6". Might have to try it though.
AussieDave… high praise from you! Thanks!
David (Dbray) you are right! Great finishes take time.
 

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Save it! It's good practice. I like jbschutz's suggestions the best. Remember a lot of people would be glad to have something this nice even if it's not perfect.
 
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