Anyone used Waterlox finish over Crystalac grain filler?

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Forum topic by 1900corey posted 03-16-2018 10:24 PM 1169 views 0 times favorited 1 reply Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 917 days

03-16-2018 10:24 PM

Topic tags/keywords: topcoats crystalac waterlox solvent finishes over water based grain fillers


I am making a walnut kitchen table and my initial plan was to apply a coat of sanding sealer, apply 1 to 2 coats of a grain filler (Crystalac), and topcoat with multiple coats of Waterlox. I’m currently testing this process on a scrap piece of walnut and after applying the grain filler I sanded and wiped with paint thinner. That reminded me that the Crystalac instructions said it is not compatible to be used under shellac (I’m guessing because of the denatured alcohol content).

I called Crystalac and the representative said he has never heard any specific complaints about using Waterlox on top of it; however, he was concerned with any topcoat that is solvent-based, as he was worried the solvents would break down the Crystalac grain filler (since it is water-based).

I am going to continue testing on my offcuts, but it seems like both Crystalac grain filler, and Waterlox sealers are both pretty common and I was surprised that I couldn’t find anything about the combination elsewhere in the forum. Please let me know if you have experience with these two products together. I’ll post pictures and comments once I try this combination myself later this weekend.

1 reply so far

View CaptainKlutz's profile


3318 posts in 2294 days

#1 posted 03-17-2018 01:45 AM

I have used Crystalac with a different oil based top coat (Arm-R-Seal) on Walnut several times. Works fine.
Have not seen any issues using mineral spirits to wipe down Crystalac coated surfaces, and zero issues with top coating.

General comments:
- Crystalac behaves like I mixed some white glue and shellac with clear filler. 1st coat of Crystalac seals pores, and removes need to use a sanding sealer first. If your sanding sealer is shellac based, then Crystalac will soften it.

- Crystalac will soften and can be removed with alcohol, so brushing a shellac on top can lift filler out of pores. If you insistent on using a shellac seal layer on top, you must spray shellac and use light layers.

- One thing I noticed about Crystalac,; it seals pores but not completely; so you get a fairly even color addition across the wood, if need to add color that was stolen by steamed and kiln dried processing done on Walnut.
Dye stain can be applied on top of Crystalac to add color, but solvent based wood stain is less difficult to apply. Since commercial dye stains are acetone/alcohol/water solvent blend; need to minimize amount of wiping to avoid rubbing filler out of pores. Spraying dye stain, with minimal wiping to equalize color worked for me. It is far easier to wipe on little gel stain. I only go trouble to use dye stain when coloring figured walnut as oil based stains are not as transparent.

I find Crystalac can be frustrating to use, and is not my favorite grain filler. Must be patient and learn how to use it.
If you rush time between application and ‘scrap across grain and remove excess’ process; you end up scooping filler out of pores. This means you end up applying it several extra times. If you wait till it almost seems dry to scrape excess, seldom need more than 1-2 coats. At same time, you can not rush drying time before sanding. Even with Arizona low humidity levels, have to let Crystalac dry overnight before sanding. Otherwise it is “soft” and you scoop out filler when using ROS sander.
With any grain filler, be sure to scrub the filler deep into grain from all directions. Burlap works great, but any course textured fabric works to push filler into pores. With patience and some practice can reduce the required number of Crystalac applications significantly.

Best Luck!

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

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