I'm working on a project for which the primary wood is African Mahogany. It has a very open grain structure and Im in the process of experimenting with some finishes. I would like to have a "close-to-the-wood", somewhat "matte" or "satin" finish. I would like to fill the pores so that it's nice and smooth. I bought some water based Behlen's Grain Filler but I've been getting less than desirable results. I've heard that there are several grain filling techniques out there…
Im wondering what you have found to work the best and what might be the easiest…
Ive only "grain filled" on two occasions….both Walnut table tops. All I used was latex wood filler (walnut) mixed with enough water to make a thick 'soup'. smeared it all over the tops with a large putty knife, let it dry, sand it off…done. Worked really well both times. Nice and simple.
The BLO with pumice is one way. There are a couple others. You can get some plaster of paris, make a very soupy mixture with water and rub that on the wood and let it dry overnight. After it drys sand it down but sand it down lightly. Just enough to take the excess off. If you sand it down too much, you open up new pores in the wood. After sanding rub it down with BLO and let that dry for a couple of days, then finish with shellac or whatever you would like.
The other way is to use Danish Oil. Sand your project down to the final finish you want. Rub it down with DO and leave it pretty wet. Then take some 600 grit wet 'n dry sandpaper and sand against the grain. 600 grit will not make unsightly scratches on your project as it is fine enough. Keep sanding across the grain until you raise a DO/saw dust slurry. When you sand against the grain it will pack the pores with the slurry which will be a perfect match for the wood since it came from the wood. Then use a cloth and wipe it down cross grain. If you rub the slurry off with the grain, you will pull the filler out. Let it dry over night. The next day check for spots that are not filled. If you have those just reapply the same method to the remaining parts that need filler. When you have finished you will have a super smooth finish packed with natural sanding dust from the wood itself. I know it sounds like a pain but try it on some scrap wood. It is actually pretty easy and does a great job. I think you can use BLO instead of DO if you want but I have never tried that.
If you are a finewoodworking subscriber to their website, there are a lot of articles on all of the three methods mentioned here. Good luck.
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