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Forum topic by StevieA posted 01-14-2013 11:18 AM 1675 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View StevieA's profile


4 posts in 1982 days

01-14-2013 11:18 AM

Hi – I am an amateur newbie who has been lurking on this forum and have gained huge knowledge from the more experienced members. I have completed 2 or 3 projects and am building a coffee table at the moment and urgently need help with a tung oil – I love the look of tung oil despite the drawbacks and want to finish the coffee table with pure tung oil.
I levelled the table top with a block plane and a scraper and have some tear-out in the mahogany – I refuse to use a belt sander due to the possible risk of gouging the wood. I have now learnt the following from this experience and plse, plse comments regarding this will be unhelpfull – I have learnt my lesson the hard way:
- make damn sure when gluing up the table top that all the boards are level;
- do not use a block plane to level – it is a huge amount of work;
- be very careful when planing magogany because tear-out occurs very easily due to the cross grain.

My question is as follows: What wood filler can I use to fill/repair the tear-out and which will not be blotchy under the tung oil finish – I can’t use pva glue/sanding dust finish as pva doesn’t absorb the oil and really stands out.
Will home made hide glue/sanding dust filler work?
Will a filler made from tung oil/sanding dust work?
If the above will not work what else can I try? I have googled extensively but cannot get a definitive/authorative answer.

I look forward to your opinions.

12 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4998 posts in 2516 days

#1 posted 01-14-2013 12:31 PM

I’ve filled grain using a slurry sanding method: linseed oil and lots of sanding that would work with tung oil as well. But it took quite a bit of effort to fill the grain on oak doing this, and I would guess that filling in tear out would take forever, if it worked at all. Just how bad is the tear out? If it’s deep enough, there may not be an easy cure other than taking the entire surface down. Do you have an ROS? It would be much more controllable than a belt sander.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View b2rtch's profile


4861 posts in 3071 days

#2 posted 01-14-2013 12:36 PM

ROS= Random Orbital Sander such as this one:

-- Bert

View StevieA's profile


4 posts in 1982 days

#3 posted 01-14-2013 12:39 PM

Thank you Fred. I do have a ROS which I intend using to do the fine sanding, didn’t use it for levelling the table top. My plan is to use the slurry method (wet sanding with 320 grit and tung oil) to fill the grain (you can see I have been stealing ideas from the experts!), but the tear-out is approximately 1mm thick (think it translates to about 1/16”) so slurry filling will as you say, be nigh impossible.
Should I not just cut out the tear-out and glue a new piece of wood in?

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4998 posts in 2516 days

#4 posted 01-14-2013 02:02 PM

Have you got a card scraper, you may be able to get it out with that, but there will be a small dip, make it large enough in diameter and no one will notice (maybe). When you say cut it out and replace, if you mean rip that section out and glue a new piece in, that would probably be the most foolproof, and probably the easiest.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3181 days

#5 posted 01-14-2013 02:30 PM

If you use the slurry method, create all your dust beforehand with the ROS on a dry, scrap piece of the same mahogany. Then oil that area and pour the sawdust liberally on the area. Once dry, which will take forever and a day, sand back to level. You just won’t be able to create the amount of dust in your slurry necessary by wet sanding at such a fine grit alone. So, you create your slurry first.

BTW, I’d go with Watco Danish Oil for this job. You’ll get the same look with the virtue of much faster drying time. Sometimes, you just have to change directions in a project due to miscues.

...and depending on how severe the tearout is, I’d be inclined to sand the entire thing back or replace the area with a patch.

-- jay,

View StevieA's profile


4 posts in 1982 days

#6 posted 01-14-2013 02:42 PM

Thank you for the feedback guys.
I think all are really saying the same thing – namely that the only right way to fix this is to preferably sand back the entire table top or to replace the tear-out area. This is something I should know by now – that there are no shortcuts in woodworking, just the right way of doing things, and that you cannot hide your screw-ups. Using a woodfiller would be like putting lipstick on a pig.
I am going to get my sanding plane out and start the process of getting it right – might take a bit longer but will give a lot more satisfaction in the long run.
Apologies for rambling on, but for me woodworking is an activity to be approached very philosophically.

View dhazelton's profile


2771 posts in 2319 days

#7 posted 01-14-2013 03:37 PM

Is the tearout small and isolated? You could put a dutchman or two in there and give the table some character.

View waho6o9's profile


8207 posts in 2600 days

#8 posted 01-14-2013 03:44 PM

Welcome to LJs StevieA!

Can you rip a new board and replace the tearout? Or, turn the board over?

Will home made hide glue/sanding dust filler work? Yes
Will a filler made from tung oil/sanding dust work? I’m not sure, maybe epoxy & sanding dust.

Good luck and have fun on your journey.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2713 days

#9 posted 01-15-2013 03:46 AM

I have used TimberMate grain filler to fill small areas of tearout. It is matched to the species of wood you are using so is not very apparent after finishing. Try it. If you don’t like it, you can remove it with water on a rag.

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

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2378 days

#10 posted 01-15-2013 04:43 AM

Pl woodpatch, which I’m having a harder and harder time finding. But honestly you’re best bet is going to be to use a random orbital sander to sand it out, and feather it out. There really is no such thing as truelly flat, as even the best machines are only within seven thousandths of an inch, which is a lil bigger than it sounds. Most of your tear out should be within a thirty second, to a sixty fourth.

As for puttying in general, you can always take a scrap piece, apply putty, and then apply the tounge oil, this way you know for a fact which product or technique will produce the results that YOU are happy with.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View StevieA's profile


4 posts in 1982 days

#11 posted 01-15-2013 04:47 AM

Thank you for all the feedback guys – I don’t know if its because we all have the same contagious woodworking infection, but I find woodworking people to be extremely helpful.

To dhazelton – I considered using a dutchman but the table design is very modern and minimalistic and I can’t really insert dutchman without damaging the hoped for character of the table.

To waho6o0 – given that my sole sawing tool consist of a Bosch jigsaw (hey, don’t laugh – I said I was a complete newbie – don’t have space for a table saw) I would much rather avoid ripping a new board or turning this board over – squaring a jigsaw cut line in 1.5” thick mahogany before gluing is no joke (yes, I have also learned that it is impossible to get a perfectly square and straight cut line with a jigsaw!) and took me quite a while working with my trusty block plane. I would rather sand the whole table top back before looking at ripping a new board. (despite the fact that I am levelling the table top by hand with a self-made sanding plane – in my limited experience I cannot get a perfectly flat surface using a ROS – it always seem to give a rounded surface and edges. I will use the ROS for fine sanding after levelling). I am going to experiment with a hide glue/sanding dust filler – I am finding it very difficult to get hide glue locally and am too impatient to wait for delivery of an online purchase, and made my own hide glue last night from raw hide which should work for experimental purposes. The wife is not very happy with me! I completely concur with your statement that woodworking is a journey – it seems to me to be a constant search for perfection, which is never attained – thats why I like it.

To gfadvm – thank you, I will also experiment with the Timbermate as well as the hide glue to see if it works. As someone has said on this board (I am paraphrasing) “If you don’t try your finish on a piece of scrap first, you risk having to scrap your finish.” (Apologies – I will try to be smarter next time, but thank you, you have been plenty nice)

View oldnovice's profile


6896 posts in 3391 days

#12 posted 01-15-2013 04:59 AM

ROS and Timbermate both good things!

ROS, have worn out a number in 40+ years of woodworking, good tool.

I have used Timbermate on a number of projects and I has yet to disappoint me. It is a water based product so seal it before painting with Latex.

Not getting a straight line with a jig saw, how about 90° to the surfaces? I also learned that as my first saw was a jig saw! That was all I could afford at the time, 40+ years old, still have, use it just for rough cuts.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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