Aqua Coat - Clear Grain Filler (Rating: 5)

This review is for the Aqua Coat clear grain filler.

They also make a clear wood putty/filler I haven't tried. Right now this stuff is $17.95 for a pint.

I've been pleasantly surprised with this stuff. I'm on my second can now. I've used it on several tables made from oak and walnut. After getting crud embedded in the grain after finishing one too many times I finally started using a grain filler.

I picked this up because it was said it was clear and compatible with stains. It turns out this is true.

The stuff comes out of the can as a sort of clear Jell-O. It has some chemical scent but not much.

Just spread it on your piece and work it a bit into the grain. I tend to use a Bondo spreader for this. That way I don't waste as much as I can just grab the excess off the spreader and stick it back onto the piece.

It takes about 2 or 3 coats to fully fill the grain depending on the pores. I think I've pulled it off in one coat a single time. If it's too thick you can simply thin it with water. This also makes it go a little further.

When it dries it will be like a slightly cloudy film on the wood. Simply sand it back until it's only in the pores. Put on a second coat and do the same. Once the top feels smooth you're good to go. If you look at the pores under the correct light you can see the stuff.

I've used it under lacquer, shellac, and varnish. I've also used stains (in my case, Minwax oil based stains) and the stuff takes stain well. I should add that I have not yet tried it under a water finish though the maker say it's compatible with water base finishes.

The only real downside I've found is, possibly, drying time. If it's very hot in your shop it will probably dry too fast. But it's below about 70-65 degrees it will take several hours to dry. Around 50 degrees or so it will probably take a day or more to dry.

What I like about this stuff is that it's unobtrusive. It doesn't change the color of the wood and makes finishing simpler. If you want to color the pores of your wood you'd have to look for a tinted filler instead.