Grain fill before or after glue-up

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Forum topic by jonsprague0000 posted 02-14-2014 07:46 PM 1673 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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104 posts in 2040 days

02-14-2014 07:46 PM

Topic tags/keywords: mahogany finish grain fill seal grain filler seal-a-cell aquacoat oil slurry finishing arm-r-seal arm r seal

Should you fill open grain woods before glue-up or after? Also do you typically grain fill non visible pieces of wood such as the inside frame of a side table?

I’m planning on either using Aquacoat, Seal-A-Cell, or a oil slurry to grain fill. I’ll be experimenting on scrap wood first. Any suggestions?

I’m building a Mahogany bedside table and plan on filling the grain. My current plan which may change based on the results of the scrap wood or your feedback is:
1. Light coat of amber shellac
2. Grain fill (either Aquacoat, Seal-A-Cell, or oil slurry) – Any tips on what type of oil to use with the slurry?
3. Sand smooth – does anyone plane instead?
4. Apply Arm R Seal Satin – I’m hoping this won’t give me a plastic look


11 replies so far

View darinS's profile


716 posts in 3318 days

#1 posted 02-14-2014 08:45 PM


I believe you typically fill the grain before staining. I would guess that if you are staining before glue-up, do it then (with the glue faces protected) otherwise do it after.

Unfortunately, as for the rest of your question, I am probably less aware of the correct answer than you are. Best of luck with your project, and I hope to see it in your projects when you’re done.

-- Rule 40 - If it seems like someone's out to get you, they are.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30409 posts in 2789 days

#2 posted 02-14-2014 09:24 PM

My thoughts are to glue first.

As to the rest of your questions, every project is done as an individual for me. It’s based on the look I am trying to achieve. That’s why we learn on every project we do.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3140 days

#3 posted 02-15-2014 01:48 AM

Do the glue up first, then I sand to 180 and fill grain with Timbermate Grain Filler. Then finish sanding with finer grits.

I would not fill the grain on the hidden surfaces.

Filling grain by sanding with oil or various finishes is a much messier and time consuming process. Timbermate has been my friend!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Fettler's profile


200 posts in 2447 days

#4 posted 02-15-2014 02:01 AM

i’ve had ok luck with timbermate. One thing you have to watch out for is mold/fungi growing on the timbermate. I do wood working in my basement and in the summer it can be pretty humid. I built an end table where i ended up with purple, pen ink colored, fungi/mold stains.

I’ve been experimenting shellac with pumice as a filler (french polish).

Glue first for sure.

-- --Rob, Seattle, WA

View Kryptic's profile


294 posts in 2111 days

#5 posted 02-15-2014 02:22 AM

Speaking off the record, I am not a fan of “filler” as my observations of using it, have cost me a tad too much money and have become a fan of “ZERO” tolerance for it

its evil, and within ones own lifetime, will rear its ugly head

when necessary, I would prefer to leave the head, of a hand forged rectangular nail proud, then add filler

i hate filler and have argued the merits of adding it, at the cost of keeping my job : )

at some point of the learning curve, it isnt needed

View Wiltjason's profile


56 posts in 2413 days

#6 posted 02-15-2014 02:46 AM

When I use it I sand to 180/220 grit glue it up, then stain it, then apply the filler, then use #0000 steel wool to remove the excess after it hazes over then add my topcoat

View Kryptic's profile


294 posts in 2111 days

#7 posted 02-15-2014 02:51 AM

adding steel wool to the program, is an element of oxidation you wont soon forget

View Kryptic's profile


294 posts in 2111 days

#8 posted 02-15-2014 02:53 AM

why the #$%@ do you have to fill open grain woods ?

View jonsprague0000's profile


104 posts in 2040 days

#9 posted 02-15-2014 03:03 AM

Kryptic, you don’t have to fill open grain woods. This is my second project and first project with an open grain. I figured I would try filling. I may just fill the top because I want it smooth. When you say the steel wool is an element of oxidation, what does that mean? I take it that it’s a good thing?

View Kryptic's profile


294 posts in 2111 days

#10 posted 02-15-2014 03:12 AM

my preference would be leave the wood in the natural state it was harvested

and choose a wood to serve its cause, and choose a wood that was more closed grain, when pen is put to paper

View Kryptic's profile


294 posts in 2111 days

#11 posted 02-15-2014 03:23 AM

for me, filler is the irrevocable cause of alarm bells going off at a million miles an hour of a mistake made eons ago

and will argue the merits of using it, till the sun rises and sets a bizillion times

as the rewards of using it, brings the onslaught of opinions who are young

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