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fixing oak island top finishing goof

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Forum topic by jakep posted 01-26-2017 05:09 PM 478 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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jakep

5 posts in 378 days


01-26-2017 05:09 PM

Topic tags/keywords: laminated oak island warped filling cracks

How do I repair / fill hairline cracks in a laminated oak island top (finished with tung oil)?

I made a kitchen island / trolley (it’s on casters) last fall. This was my first “serious” woodworking project, and I made an error when doing the finishing the laminated oak island top (purchased from Lumber Liquidators).

I sealed the bottom surface, but procrastinated about finishing the top surface, leaving it unsealed. Uneven moisture absorption resulted in a significant (3/8”) bow in the 3’x5’ top.

I tried several things to rectify this, but they didn’t work. Then, a few days agao (in desperation), I put the laminated top upside down on sawhorses, covered it with a plastic sheet, and put a space heater and a little dehumidifier underneath.

This morning I discovered that the bow had indeed disappeared. But I was probably a little too aggressive with the space heater. The strips of oak have not delaminated, but they have a bunch of hairline cracks that weren’t there before.

I put the first coat of tung oil on anyway, ignoring the cracks. The top is now level enough to be useful (and even looks pretty good). I didn’t want to wait around and let the thing warp again.

So here is the question:

What should I do about the cracks? At present I am inclined to continue with multiple coats of tung oil, and then wait to see how the top stabilizes. But eventually I expect I shall have to fill those cracks. What should I use? What will adhere to a tung oil finished surface, but allow me to do some colour matching? (As you might expect, the oak strips have lots of different colours.)


8 replies so far

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Rich

1984 posts in 428 days


#1 posted 01-26-2017 07:04 PM

Tung oil is not a good finish for a counter top due to its poor level of protection against moisture, etc. What you have is likely tung oil finish (versus pure tung oil) which actually contains no tung oil anyway.

If it were me, I’d use a grain filler to level the cracks. I use a product called Aqua Coat. It’s water based and very easy to use. It also dries clear, so it won’t affect the colors you mentioned. There are videos out there for more info, but basically you spread it with a plastic paddle, taking off the excess. Let it dry, sand with 320, and do a second coat. Two is often enough, but you might need three.

Then — again, this is just me — I’d use several coats of wipe-on poly. Choose gloss or satin. It’s super easy to apply and get a great looking durable finish. Give it as many coats as you feel are necessary to get the look you want. It will take a couple of weeks to be fully cured, so I’d take it easy working on the surface for a while. Basically as long as you can still get your nose down there and smell it, it’s not fully cured. That’s true of any oil based poly.

A tip if you go with the Aqua Coat — stir it. It might be firm on the surface when you first open it, but it’s quite gelatinous underneath, so you want to mix it.

All of this will work over the tung oil finish you have on there now. Be sure it’s had a few days to dry first though.

-- No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

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jakep

5 posts in 378 days


#2 posted 01-27-2017 01:48 AM

Rich Taylor: Thanks. I will try your suggestion for sure. Thanks.

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Rich

1984 posts in 428 days


#3 posted 01-27-2017 04:26 AM

I know you’ll nail it Jake. Feel free to PM me or post to your thread here if you have any questions. I’ll see it either way.

-- No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

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jakep

5 posts in 378 days


#4 posted 01-27-2017 04:31 AM

Oh wow. I am running into a problem that I encounter all too frequently. I am in Ontario, Canada. I cannot seem to find a Canadian source for Aqua Coat any kind of water-based grain filler. These seem common in the US, but I just can’t locate anything up here. Sorry to say this, but we seem to be kind of backward in some ways here in the Great White North. Or else my search skills are the problem.

Do any Canadian members of Lumberjocks know where I can buy this kind of product in Ontario?

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Rich

1984 posts in 428 days


#5 posted 01-27-2017 04:40 AM

There’s another product called CrystaLac. It gets mixed reviews regarding yellowing, which might, or might not, be an issue for you. Regardless, if you can’t get Aqua Coat, but can get CrystaLac, it might be the way to go.

Amazon and Woodcraft sell Aqua Coat. Not sure if that makes a difference for you.

BTW, we are FREEZING down here in Tucson. The highs have barely gotten close to 60ºF.

-- No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

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jakep

5 posts in 378 days


#6 posted 01-31-2017 08:34 PM

Hey Rich! I was born in Tucson. Dad is Canadian, so we moved back to Canada when I was 14.

Anyway, the finishing thing has turned into quite an adventure. It turns out I can’t get Aqua Coat or Crystalac at a reasonable price in Canada. Nor can I obtain de-waxed shellac at a reasonable price up here either. The company that deals with Zinsser Sealcoat will only sell a minimum of 2 gallons, at $96 per gallon. This is about what it would cost to completely replace the oak top and start over again. I spoke to a local finishing company and asked what they thought about using the regular Zinsser shellac (which is available, but contains wax). The guy said that he thought it was risky putting poly on top of it.

It is possible to order de-waxed shellac flakes and mix it myself, but the ETA is a couple of weeks.

So in the meanwhile, I tried another strategy. (BTW, some of the “cracks” between the oak strips are large enough to catch my fingernail. So I was worried that only something with particles would fill these flaws.)

Thus I made my own “pore filler” from sanding dust from the end I cut off the top (sanded at 240 grit) and the same tung oil that is on the top already. I mixed it at something between a paste and a slurry. I had no idea whether this would fill the cracks, or adhere. I slathered it on, and scraped it back off with a credit card. I let it dry or cure for three days.

It turns out that it worked really well (so far anyway). I had to sand, of course, and then re-apply another coat of tung oil. The top is now smooth and looks great. However, I am left with the problem that the tung oil will probably not be very durable. And who knows how long my homemade pore filler will adhere. So, I’ll either go ahead and order some shellac flakes, and finish with poly on top of that, or just resign myself to re-oiling with tung oil periodically. I must admit that my patience with the project is wearing thin, so I may just leave the tung oil on and use the piece for a few months.

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Rich

1984 posts in 428 days


#7 posted 01-31-2017 09:13 PM

It’s definitely possible, and easy, to mix your own. The key variable is what’s called the pound cut. That’s the number of pounds of shellac flakes added to a gallon of denatured alcohol. For pore filling, you’ll want a heavier cut, so if you order a pound of shellac, dissolve it in a half-gallon of alcohol. You could even mix it heavier if you want to try that first, since you can always cut it with more alcohol if you need a lighter cut. A three pound cut would be 12 ounces of flakes in a quart.

I’ve been meaning to let you know that after you mentioned the sanding sealer, Woodcraft had some on sale and I decided to try it. It’s the General Finishes brand, but they’ve changed the labeling and name to Enduro. Same stuff is still in the can I’m sure. I don’t even see that old familiar label on their web site any more.

Anyway, I really like it. I find it as easy to use as AquaCoat and since it’s liquid, it gets into the pores really well. Cleanup is easy, and it dries pretty quickly and sands very well.

I’m always looking for better/easier ways to get things done, and it will definitely remain as a product I use often.

I feel your pain on the counter top. It’s easy to get really frustrated when nothing seems to come out the way you want it. If you can get your hands on the General Finishes sanding sealer, it might be worth a try though.

-- No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

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jakep

5 posts in 378 days


#8 posted 01-31-2017 10:03 PM

Aha! General Finishes Sanding Sealer is available here! I’t not too pricey. I’ll try it.

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