French Polishing class #2: Preparing - Filling Pores

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Blog entry by RichClark posted 02-28-2009 05:07 AM 1674 reads 2 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Getting ready... Part 2 of French Polishing class series Part 3: Here are some pics of the looks »

OK sorry, work is still beating me up -

Here is where I am so far and what were learning -

If you make boxes and such… (small Sized stuff) this will work out of the box. .if your working bigger pieces you need to increase the size of the pad your gonna make to do it with.. but your going to have to practice on a smaller pad so that your can “feel” this process out. .this is minimal shellac and not happy rottenstone sanding wet stuff that is so easy to get lost it goo…

Prepare your surface – it needs to be as sanded as you cant.. with a block or what ever you have handy.. On large surfaces you can cheat Ill tall ya how later but for now.. well work small for the class I prepared some black oak and some Barzilian cherry for my test pieces.

Lotta pores!... You need to learn to fill them or you have to make allot more work unless you want them to show (alot of arts and crafts stuff is pores not filled) glass table tops and instruments are all about filling pores if you want glass you need to get rid of the light that is reflecting off the pores..

There a jillion ways to pore fill but in the end they boil down to water and oil and dust.
Here are some pro’s and cons from me experimenting for 2 weeks with allot of scraps and resurfacing and starting over and over.

You want to match the Wood’s color and you want to match or darken the pores to the deepest color of the wood (It adds depth)

So lets get started—

Sand to 220 or better 320—

Oil filler is in a jillion colors so you may want to go the route I did I bought some Artist oil colors ( set of 6 was like 20 bucks at the local artist supply) Then I bought the lightest color I could get and alter it as needed. I have a bit of a back ground in painting and know how to get the colors I want and I just eyeballed it close to the darkest anything I saw on the board for the walnut it was pure black, for the cherry its was burnt umber. anyway get it close…

Oil Fillers are great that ya can thin them and work them for along time.. Use a squeegee acrost the grain and press the filler into the pores but if they are tightly aligned.. or are cut so as they run long.. be gentle near them the key is to clear the filler from the board as much as ya can… (Its best to wait 24 hours and sand the piece again with 220- then 320 and look it in a raking light to make sure its done. If not.. do it again)

—- OIL —-
Pros – Its easy to thin (read the ingredients on the can and If it says Petrol-Distillates acetone is good for that
Its easy to tint, and its easy to apply..

Cons – Ya need to check next day to see if it came out ok… Don’t rush it or your sanding will pull it out


I used Behlens Neutral, (that means WHITE!) I thought it would be a nice light brown – With this kind of filler you need to color it with a tint.. they are costly but they last a long time usage wise, these tints can also tint anything else you have but oil based stuff. Anyway I bought a pure black and a very dark brown.. and the buty is you add a drop and stir and repeat until its what you want.

The problems with water were driving me crazy until I too a deep breath and went to bed. I was way over sanding out the filler I was putting on. So To “teach Me” I just used it straight WHITE out of the container and spread it as directed ( a note I live in Florida and its humid or dry here as far as waht the wood surface is concerned) This stuff flashes off pretty quickly and your gonna sand and sand if you do not get it off. Well The experiment I did was using the pure white form of it I rubbed it in using a ball of cotton and when It flashed dry to thick I sprayed the surface with a sprit of water to keep it open longer.. I was able to push it also against the grain (hint Hint) until I was happy with a thin wash coat on the board and a lot of pores filled! Work small areas and don’t be afraid of raising the grain or anything since your to 320 of the mess anyway.


Easiest! Teacher says its best to sand the endgrain of the stock your filling with 180 or so and use it. .I just made a pile of the sanding form 220-320 and all over and used it..

You use a cotton ball and wet it with Shellac and tap a tiny pile of saw dust and rub that in circles into the grain and the pores filling them with the wood and sealed with the shellac. Ya wet the ball of cotton as needed and add dust as needed.. If your get a goober just leave it and after it drys (usually in less than 20-30 seconds or so) ya can go back over it. If your cotton ball goobers up just scrape the wad of wet dust on the board and rub that in.
Your pushing hard to keep the stuff wet dont go over places alot or as soon as they feel sticky move on.

Once ya get the piece done.. sand 320 and look at it in raking light and fix what ya missed.. The reason I repeat this is that your going to miss places.. and you need to fill usually twice unless your dont care about imperfections in the piece (some dont fill at all)

Ok that is todays lesson—Promise Ill try to get the meat in tomorrow or Sunday latest…

-- Duct Tape is the Force! It has a light side and a dark side and it Binds the Universe together!

2 comments so far

View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 3435 days

#1 posted 02-28-2009 01:11 PM

Glad you have the patience, cant say I do ,but it sure is a nice finish when it,s done. Thanks for the how to.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View gbvinc's profile


628 posts in 3940 days

#2 posted 02-28-2009 04:09 PM

Keep them coming!

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