I need some help with filling African Mahogany

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by Angela posted 11-06-2011 11:11 PM 7489 views 2 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Angela's profile


205 posts in 2924 days

11-06-2011 11:11 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question filling filler african mahogany

I’ve done a lot of reading about filling so I didn’t think I would be having such a problem but I think all the article are about filling genuine Mahogany and not African Mahogany, which is much more porous.

I’m building a TV stand and I wanted to fill the top. I have stained the top with a water based dye then put a coat of shellc to prtect the wood from any stain the filler might cause. This is what I’ve tried

1. I first purchased the Behlen’s Mahogany oil based wood filler and reducer but every time I’ve tried to use this stuff it just stains the wood black. I’ve tried to reduce it and I’ve tried to immediately removing it after wiping it on.

2. Next I purchased the Behlen’s Natural oil based wood filler. This is a grey color that can be tinted. I first tried it without tinting it and it filled the pores a light grey color so next time I tried to tint it. This was probably the best so far but it still stained the wood and didn’t look right.

3. I thought I’d go another route and try the water based CrystaLac Clear Waterborne Wood Grain Filler that Rockler sells. When I tried this it completely coats the wood and puts a top layer over everything. To remove it from that top of the wood and just leave it in the pores, I sanded the top. The problem is I had to sand too far and it started to remove some of the stain.

4. I then thought I’d try what the magazines and other articles have recommended. One was pumice and BLO (boiled linseed oil). This didn’t really fill the holes, African Mahogany is VERY porous. If I kept rubbing enough pumice into the wood it started to cut into the stain because it was taking too much to fill the holes. Here’s one of the articles about it from FWW

5. I then tried another method of using pumice and a mixture of denatured alcohol and shellac. It did the same as above. “Here's a FWW article regarding this process. I have not tried the Plaster of Paris idea that is mentioned. I’m to the point that I figure I just won’t fill the wood but I really wanted it filled. So I thought I’d ask others out there if they have any ideas of what I can do. I’m not crazy about using oil on the wood because of the change in color. I don’t want to try something less abrasive because the rottenstone will stain the pores black.

Should I add more layer of shellac then try filling it?

-- - Helping other woodworker's

12 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3677 days

#1 posted 11-06-2011 11:21 PM

What I did was removed the dust collection from my random-orbital-sander and put the dust bag on it, I then sanded the project/mahogany with 220grit prepping the wood for finishing and collecting the sawdust at the same time.

Next, I mixed the sawdust with shellac – it becomes a very thick slur which I then applied liberally over the mahogany – it looks messy, and not very attractive at this point. I then scraped it off using a scraper- trying not to dig into the material, but just scrape the excess after it has dried. the remaining slurr was sealing the pores. you can do a 2nd application just to make sure everything is sealed ,and then use shellac over that as the finish, or whatever other finish you want to use.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3773 days

#2 posted 11-07-2011 12:15 AM

Angela, I normally wouldn’t stain or dye African mahogany, but to fill the grain here’s what I would do. Watco makes a mahogany danish oil, that may give you the color you’re after. Apply it liberally and sand it by hand with some 400 grit wet/dry sand paper. You’ll have to give it a good work over. Wipe of the excess, across the grain and let dry. Repeat the procedure again. Third time wipe the excess off with the grain. This should give you the mahogany color and the sanding debris will fill in the pores of the wood. I normally do this with a oil/varnish mix, without attempting to change the color of the wood. Good luck.

View Brit's profile


7387 posts in 2871 days

#3 posted 11-07-2011 12:37 AM

I filled the grain on a mahogany window sill. I used Behlen’s water-based Mahogany grain filler which was pink in the can. I spread it on a small area at a time using a plastic spreader working at 45 degrees to the grain. It goes off quickly, so you have to work fast. I then hand sanded using a block to just leave the filler in the grain. The I did it again working in the other direction at 45 degrees. After sanding again, the pores were filled with pink filler (a bit scary), but once I applied the top coat which was Liberon Finishing Oil, you couldn’t see it so all was well in the end.

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2718 days

#4 posted 11-07-2011 06:25 AM

Timber Mate wood filler is my favorite grain filler. VERY easy to use. I fill the grain, sand to final grit, and then apply stain (if staining). I have also used BLO and wet sanded with 180 grit to form a slurry which is then worked across the grain with a credit card. The Timber Mate is quicker, easier, and produces good results. It was recently reviewed on this site. Hope this helps. ps Buy the mahogany Timbermate for mahogany, red oak for red oak, etc….

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

View tomd's profile


2155 posts in 3799 days

#5 posted 11-07-2011 07:14 AM

I have been using the Crystalac for a good while now and I like it. I rarely stain wood so I like it because it drys clear and does not leave a muddy look. But when you put it on you must not let it dry, leave it until it gets very thick like puddy then scrape it off with a credit card or similar plastic card. You will then have a very thin coat on top, allow 24 hours to dry completely then sand off the remander with a 320 of 400 grit paper. If you wish to stain do it before using Crystalac.

-- Tom D

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3079 days

#6 posted 11-07-2011 08:19 AM


Jeff Jewitt came up with a solution a few years ago. He used plaster of paris. He applied it with a squegee across the grain (after staining and sealing with shellac), wiped it off with burlap going across the grain, then when dry fine sanded to remove the dust. Then he hit it with blo which turns the plaster of paris translucent and showed the color. With a sealed and smooth surface, he applied a finish and the pictures in the magazine ( I believe it was American Woodworker) looked good.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3038 days

#7 posted 11-07-2011 09:12 AM

I recently used Target Coatings’ High Solids Grain Filler to fill Af Mah. Brush on, let solidify 5 min, scrape off at 45 degrees to grain. Sand. Repeat twice more. This was after a coat of shellac to seal the stain. Top-coated the HSF.with lacquer (EM6000). Came out glass smooth.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View doyoulikegumwood's profile


384 posts in 4021 days

#8 posted 11-07-2011 09:33 AM

my favored method for por filling is to use a catalyzed lacquer and build up as many coats as need to be able to rub out the finish. heres the draw back you need to have a good place to finish seid project and have to have some experience with spray finishes.

The nice part about this methode is you dont muddle up the wood with por fillers.

I wood assume as cr1 has pointed out you could also pull this off with shellac but it would be a lengthy process.

-- I buy tools so i can make more money,so ican buy more tools so I can work more, to make more money, so I can buy more tool, so I can work more

View Kelby's profile


134 posts in 2439 days

#9 posted 11-08-2011 03:57 AM


Try this with a test piece; it’s standard fare for guitar builders.

Get a tube of that 5-minute 2-part epoxy. Mix it and then squish it into the pores and smear it around on the wood using an old credit card. The credit card trick should enable you to squish it into the wood and leave a very light film on the rest of the wood surface. Let it dry.

When it has cured (I usually let it sit a day), sand the wood gently with 180 grit or 220 grit sandpaper. You need to sand until EITHER (a) the epoxy film is flat, but you haven’t sanded through the epoxy anywhere, OR (b) the epoxy film is just barely removed but you haven’t sanded enough to expose additional unfilled pores. (Sometimes I have to epoxy a second time to get a sanded surface that I’m happy with.)

Shellac over the epoxy to avoid any adhesion problems. Once the shellac has cured, sand gently with 220 and then apply whatever finish you wish.

This will completely fill all pores and give you a perfectly flat and smooth surface, while preserving the natural wood look and avoiding having wood that looks like it has been filled with gunk.

If you like the look, most luthiers use something called ZPoxy that you get from luthier’s supply houses. It works great. However, I have also had very good results using 5-minute epoxy and also with West Systems.

-- Kelby

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4153 days

#10 posted 11-29-2011 06:26 PM

I hit my Mahogany with a thinned layer of shellac to seal it before I fill it.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Byron's profile


92 posts in 2409 days

#11 posted 11-30-2011 11:39 PM

there’s a great “how to” on filling on
its part of their french polishing tutorial

-- Byron Conn, Woodworking/Furniture Design at Rochester Institute of Technology,

View Angela's profile


205 posts in 2924 days

#12 posted 12-04-2011 05:15 PM

Well I ended up filling the wood. The problem I was having was the filler was staining the wood even though I had covered it with shellac first but I wasn’t using enough shellac to protect the wood. I was cutting the shellac to much so I used a 2 pound cut and 2 or 3 layers to fully protect the wood.

I used behlen’s mahogany wood filler and it worked great. I filled it twice then I sprayed shellac with my new sprayer from woodcraft. I sprayed 5 coats on because it was put on very thin then I then sprayed 3 coats of rockhard table top varish that was cut 50%. The top came out looking very very nice. I’m amazed how nice it looks. The shellac staph was easy because it dries so fast but with the varnish you need a cleaning environment because it take 3 hours until stuff won’t stick on it.

I’m currently out of the country but when I return I’ll add the finishing and filling photos to my TV stand blog.
Kelby, I might try your idea on another project. I didn’t want to sand to much on this project and i didn’t read your idea until after i had already filled it, but I like the idea.

Thanks everyone!

-- - Helping other woodworker's

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics