Filling Porous Voids in Wood For Strength

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by HorizontalMike posted 03-13-2017 12:51 PM 1716 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View HorizontalMike's profile


7797 posts in 3423 days

03-13-2017 12:51 PM

Topic tags/keywords: porous voids filling strength zebrawood epoxy west systems

I am in the process of making a number of handplane Totes and Knobs out of Zebrawood. While I try to avoid obvious flaws in wood, I ended up with a tote sized piece that necessitated cutting it with an obvious flaw or weak area. Zebrawood does this on occasion and this tote had to be cut this way or toss the entire piece of this. I have other Zebrawood stock, so this is not a do or die issue, however I would still like to try and salvage this tote. At the worse I think this will help me add to my WW-ing skills.

This porous area is at the base of a tote and I have not rounded over the appropriate edges yet. I will do that before attempting to fill this void, but have an open question to ask:

WHAT would be the best material to fill this void, for maximum added strength?

I have the following in stock:
  • Titebond 3
  • West Systems Epoxy #207
  • CA glue
  • Wipe-on Varnish
  • Other…

FWIW, I can actually blow air through some of this void, so the possibility of ‘flowing’ a filler into it is possible, though not guaranteed.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

21 replies so far

View johnstoneb's profile


3129 posts in 2681 days

#1 posted 03-13-2017 12:58 PM

I would try the epoxy. If it will flow into the voids. I think you will get more strength from it. Make sure it is slow cure that will give it more time to flow into the voids. You will have to stay with it to continue adding epoxy as it flows in.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View madts's profile


1905 posts in 2848 days

#2 posted 03-13-2017 01:24 PM



-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View waho6o9's profile


8768 posts in 3086 days

#3 posted 03-13-2017 01:28 PM

Maybe use a vacuum to help the epoxy or glue get to the other side like Marc did on his
cutting board.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7797 posts in 3423 days

#4 posted 03-13-2017 02:08 PM

Maybe use a vacuum to help the epoxy or glue get to the other side like Marc did on his
cutting board.
- waho6o9

Many years ago I used to vacuum-bag RC sailplane wings with the slow set #206 hardener (not the fast #205). Sold my vacuum pump more than a decade ago and regret it. Now, the only vacuum I have available is from my DC hose and shop-vac. Shop vac has a stronger suction and low capacity, so that may be my best bet. My #207 hardener is slow set 20-26min pot-life, so that helps.

I’ll go with the epoxy then. I’ll get to it in a few days. That is after I finish shaping the two totes I have already cut. Thanks guys!

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View runswithscissors's profile


3072 posts in 2534 days

#5 posted 03-13-2017 09:42 PM

Epoxy flows like honey, and should fill those voids easily. Block (with tape) the bottom so the epoxy doesn’t all flow out. But I don’t have first hand experience with zebra wood, so I have to ask—is it an oily wood, like teak? Epoxy doesn’t like oily wood so well, though you can treat it with acetone.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View George Coles's profile

George Coles

188 posts in 2954 days

#6 posted 03-13-2017 11:51 PM

Hi. I agree with the steps given by “Runswithscissors”. Another thing on top of his points that I sometimes do is to apply the vibration of the sander underneath the wood to help the epoxy run and fill. I also leave the West Sys epoxy clear, no color added as that then tends to help blend the color back to the same as the wood.

I, myself, find that it is better to fill it first and then do the sanding, shaping or rounding after.

-- George Coles,

View HorizontalMike's profile


7797 posts in 3423 days

#7 posted 03-14-2017 12:02 AM

The best I can tell is that Zebrawood is an open pore, rather dry wood. I like the idea of using vibration to help the flow of the epoxy. A quarter sheet sander without any paper would do it. Guessing when to tape off the outflow end will be the trick, I’m sure.

Just running Acetone through the proposed area, actually may help track the likely path of the filler/epoxy, and may be a good predictor of where to tape-off etc. Good ideas… Thanks…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Druid's profile


2152 posts in 3304 days

#8 posted 03-14-2017 05:49 AM

Interesting problem that typically is not really addressed.
Another suggestion that you might want to consider is a product, handled by Lee Valley, called Glue Syringes. This includes a set of five syringes with 10 blunt-end needles (five 18-gauge and five 20-gauge), and a curved-tip syringe.

If the openings in the wood are large enough, insert the blunt needle as far into the opening as possible, then to prevent air pockets, slowly withdraw it as you inject the glue. If you use glue instead of epoxy, the syringe and needle can be cleaned up for future use. Your local pharmacy might also have blunt needles, and may sell you what you need if you print off a copy of the Lee Valley product to show them.,110,42967

So, I’m interested in hearing how this works out for you.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View bonesbr549's profile


1584 posts in 3576 days

#9 posted 03-14-2017 12:36 PM

I have this a lot in Cherry and just use thick formulation of Cryocycolate (pardon the sp). Sets quick sand and move on. Blends in well.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View ksSlim's profile


1302 posts in 3399 days

#10 posted 03-14-2017 12:39 PM

Suggest applying plastic food wrap to your sander pad.
As soon as you see epoxy coming thru, apply tape.
I use 3’ wide packing tape.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View HorizontalMike's profile


7797 posts in 3423 days

#11 posted 03-14-2017 09:00 PM

While waiting to acquire some of the above supplies, I went ahead and routed/sanded the totes into shape. After that the flawed area appears much smaller and less of an issue. We’ll see. These totes are for a couple of 409VBMs:

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2743 posts in 3431 days

#12 posted 03-14-2017 09:50 PM

I make decorative boxes and run into this issue frequently. I fill cracks and voids with an epoxy called Z-poxy. I sometimes add chalk dust to it (blue) to give it an inlaid turquoise look. Z Poxy is so thin that it will seep all the way through your wood so I place masking tape on the underside of any crack. It takes hours to cure so it has time to fill up any void. I should work for you.

-- No PHD just a DD214

View HorizontalMike's profile


7797 posts in 3423 days

#13 posted 03-15-2017 05:12 PM

Well, I’ll have this thing sanded next morning after a full cure. This worked out rather easy, all said and done. This is the first time I actually wanted it to bleed through the other side. Last time, I had an inadvertent bleed through of stain on an Oak sideboard restoration (kind of like a weeping Madonna painting)... ;-)

I spent probably 20min slowly dripping epoxy into these holes/channels. You could see as the level dropped in each hole, very slowly…

Almost ready to sand! This is only post-3hr cure. Wax paper is sticking, but will sand off readily

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View madts's profile


1905 posts in 2848 days

#14 posted 03-15-2017 05:20 PM

Looking good Mike.


-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10737 posts in 4561 days

#15 posted 03-15-2017 06:18 PM

Those are REALLY PRETTY Totes!

Prettiest Totes I’ve seen!!

You’re doing a great job on them!

Looks like that epoxy is doing the job! ... GOOD!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

showing 1 through 15 of 21 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics