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Crotch Tearout--CrystaLac or Other Wood Grain/Pore Filler

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Forum topic by jayseedub posted 06-20-2018 01:33 AM 439 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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jayseedub

135 posts in 2084 days


06-20-2018 01:33 AM

Topic tags/keywords: grain filler pore filler tearout tear out crystalac

I have a walnut board with a beautiful area of crotch that I’d really like to feature on a jewelry box—but of course there’s tearout from my planer around that area. I don’t have a handplane that can plane it out, and I probably could sand the heck out of it….and make it about 1/16’ thinner….

...but….

Could I FILL OUT the speckles of tearout (it’s not chunks—just the normal bunch of speckled roughness you normally get) with grain filler? I’m thinking something like CrystaLac or Aqua Coat Clear…..

I’ve never used either of them—but wonder what you think?

I really want to feature the area—will the grain filler be obvious—or will it just make the tearout be more obvious?

Thoughts?


9 replies so far

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msinc

497 posts in 623 days


#1 posted 06-20-2018 02:08 AM

I haven’t had much luck {or success} doing that. The problem is that the walnut, being a dark wood, makes the fill appear almost completely black and it stands out instead of blending in or being hidden. The thing I have noticed is that the clearer fill you use the worse it looks. You would think if you had nice clear filler it would show the woods base color thru and hide the defect, but it just does not work that way. At least it doesn’t for me. Some fellow “lumberjerk” will now post to say the exact opposite, “all ya gotta do….....”
What’s worse is that clear fillers, like epoxy are going to be near impossible to get back out and you will end up sanding until it is gone if that is feasible. I recently tried it again on hollow centers of small knots and there it doesn’t look too terrible because it’s just the middle of a knot and at least it is level with the rest of the surface. Maybe take a piece of scrap and gunch it up with a small chisel…then fill it to see what it looks like? I don’t know, but I do a lot of work with walnut and in many years of trying I haven’t found a really good or perfect solution to this problem. One thing I plan to try, sand the rest of the part so it is ready to finish {as if the defect wasn’t there} and apply some finish and either sand on it to create some “fill” with the sanding dust or add dust from the walnut if you have some in your shop. Band saws seem to be good at making really fine dust. I think maybe the color of the dust being the same as the wood might do better to hide it, but I am sorry to not be able to say for sure. Good luck, if there is any way you can sand it out so it is gone I really think that is the solution. I mean, we aren’t talking about some obscure corner in the back bottom…this is an eye catching extra AAA grade part of the wood.

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Aj2

1662 posts in 1917 days


#2 posted 06-20-2018 02:43 AM

Card scraper is what I use when I get tear out in a smallish area. Usually I can get things worked out with a hand plane but some woods only a card scraper can tame.
Good luck if you try a filler I don’t think it will look good maybe it will??

-- Aj

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Rich

3544 posts in 709 days


#3 posted 06-20-2018 04:06 AM

Lumberjerk here. All ya gotta do is…

Learn to use fills. Can I teach you in this post? Nope. But Mohawk makes a couple of lines of hard fill products that are transparent and colored. Their E-Z Flow sticks work beautifully. I ran into the same situation with some crazy grained alder (of all things) on the lock rail of a pantry door and got some nasty tear out. Using the medium transparent amber did a perfect job. To this day, I have trouble finding the fills.

Sorry I can’t give you a cut and dried solution, but learning some repair techniques will save you in most cases. There’s no time like now to start. Also, post photos when you can. It helps.

P.S. msinc is totally right. One would think that clear fill is a no-brainer, but it almost never works out like you expect. The problem is that because it’s clear, the light that hits it stays white and it stands out like a sore thumb. That’s why you need some color in there.

Lumberjerk. Who says that?

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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CaptainKlutz

456 posts in 1614 days


#4 posted 06-20-2018 10:23 AM

Have to agree with previous posts, except for J part…

+1 All the clear fillers will make defects look abnormal and/or stand out with most clear finishes.
Been there, done that.

+1 Learning fill methods takes practice and testing as same method does not work same on every piece of wood.
Still here, still trying…

I am not an expert, but I have seen that some defects can be hidden with normal ‘grain fill plus color’ process, especially for larger grain wood like walnut?

For me, Grain fill looks best when you use a dye or stain the darken the walnut tone followed with clear top coat.
My process is simple: I use either Behlens neutral water based filler, and/or TimberMate neutral filler to fill ALL the grain (and defects), followed with classic brown or American Walnut color dye stain. Secret is filler absorbs the dye color and small defects will look like funky wood grain pores. After coloring, apply most any clear coat.
I developed this process on kiln dried/steamed walnut to replace color wash out from steaming and balance color tone across a project. Typically with Behlens/Mohawk dye stain diluted between 1/4 to 1/2 of normal intensity as only want to tone the wood, not make it really dark.

Notes:
When using grain filler process, entire finish process needs to tested on scrap lumber for compatibility and desired results. In past, I found some compatibility issues with Crystalac mentioned below.

Suggest that if using a WB top coat, on top of WB dye stain, that use spray process to apply WB finish. Brushing WB poly on WB die stain can drag out and create uneven color.

Crystalac works well under oil based finishes. Do not recommend Crystalac grain filler under a dye stain. Challenge is that Crystalac has an alcohol based carrier, and re-dissolves if layers on top use alcohol. Since most commercial dye stains contain alcohol, there can/will be some filler (and color) drag out of pores. Only use oil based stain if need to add color to Crystalac filled grain. Brushing shellac in top of Crystalac has same issue.

Best Luck and as always,
YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary)

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

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msinc

497 posts in 623 days


#5 posted 06-20-2018 12:56 PM

Rich and Capt…...when you guys do a fill with color how do you avoid making the part too dark? This seems like the problem I always have every time I try a color type fill. It seems like it will stand out almost as bad if I don’t apply the color over at least that entire panel or side of the project. Then, it tends to degrade the highly figured wood.
Birchwood-Casey, the maker of gun products, has a pretty good walnut wood filler. It is water based and will raise the grain so you have to sand it well, but the drawback is that your walnut will be about three shades darker.
Can you suggest the best filler that darkens the least???? I see EZ Flow offers a 12 pack walnut assortment.

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Aj2

1662 posts in 1917 days


#6 posted 06-20-2018 02:27 PM

Rich I don’t doubt your ability to fill or fix defects on ordinary grain. The Op says it’s crotch walnut that’s a whole nuteer kettle of fish.:)

-- Aj

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Rich

3544 posts in 709 days


#7 posted 06-20-2018 02:38 PM


Can you suggest the best filler that darkens the least???? I see EZ Flow offers a 12 pack walnut assortment.

- msinc

Hard fills don’t darken the wood. They aren’t like a grain filler that you apply over the surface. They are hard and you apply them to the spots that need filling. For instance, E-Z Flow are very much like shellac — shiny and hard like glass. The PlaneStick is just as hard, but with a slightly lower sheen. Even the softer Quick Fill and waxy Fil-Stik don’t have any ingredients that darken the wood.

The thing to keep in mind is that none of these are applied to bare wood. It’s best to use them after at least one layer of top coat, and I generally put down two or three light coats before I do any fills. The beauty of that is that you are matching the finished color. Any dye or staining you’ve done and the top coat are on there, so you are matching the final color of the piece.

The downside is that they aren’t easy to apply. E-Z Flow and PlaneStick have to be leveled with the burn-in knife and that takes a lot of practice to get good at. Quick Fill is warmed with a flameless torch and rubbed in and the Fil-Stik are simply rubbed in, although I use some heat to make it easier. I haven’t mentioned them, but the Hard Fill and Hard Fill Plus are burned in, but are leveled with a tool, so they are much easier to apply.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View CaptainKlutz's profile (online now)

CaptainKlutz

456 posts in 1614 days


#8 posted 06-21-2018 12:03 AM

msinc – Hard part of your question is definition of too much color, or making it too dark.
I like my walnut to have classic air dried, hand rubbed oil finish ‘darker’ color. Some like lighter shades of walnut?

Key for me keeping color light is intensity of dye. Occasionally will even use 1 to 10 ratio of dye stain to reducer, and will apply dye several times (and often not across everything) to reach color wanted.
The challenge is that the neutral fillers I mentioned above absorb much more dye color than wood. If want pores to have less color, using Crystalac helps as it absorbs less color. But when I use Crystalac with dye stain, have to change reducer from Alcohol/water mix to a Acetone/water blend to stop drag out. I almost always add 10% retarder to dye stain due low AZ humidity. On tricky coloring work (and with Crystalac) will use an air brush or detail gun to spray dye onto wood, followed by quick wipe done to improve uniformity and/or control color depth.

Another method I’ve used on exotic woods is to use Timbermate color tinted grain fill, and then sand off any color added to wood. If you apply shellac seal coat before applying grain fill (with out sanding after), this sort of resembles the hard fill process Rich detailed. Since you can re-tint Timbermate with acrylic paint colors or dyes; you can adjust the filler color in pores however you like and prevent it being to dark.

Frankly, dislike color match finishing. Drives me nuts when wife shows me a color, and asks can you make it like this? There always seems to be a lot voodoo or magic foo-foo, plus massive amount of time required when you desire special finish look or color.

Cheers!

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

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Rich

3544 posts in 709 days


#9 posted 06-21-2018 12:41 AM


msinc – Hard part of your question is definition of too much color, or making it too dark.

- CaptainKlutz

Lots of good info from Señor Klutz. I do want to make clear though that we have two totally separate topics going on here. His post was about pore fillers and coloring and my posts have been about fills — hard fill burn-in, etc. In spite of the confusing similarity of terms, they are two completely different things.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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