Grain fill before or after glue-up

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Forum topic by jonsprague0000 posted 02-14-2014 07:46 PM 1199 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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80 posts in 1012 days

02-14-2014 07:46 PM

Topic tags/keywords: mahogany finish grain fill seal grain filler seal-a-cell aquacoat oil slurry finishing arm-r-seal arm r seal

Should you fill open grain woods before glue-up or after? Also do you typically grain fill non visible pieces of wood such as the inside frame of a side table?

I’m planning on either using Aquacoat, Seal-A-Cell, or a oil slurry to grain fill. I’ll be experimenting on scrap wood first. Any suggestions?

I’m building a Mahogany bedside table and plan on filling the grain. My current plan which may change based on the results of the scrap wood or your feedback is:
1. Light coat of amber shellac
2. Grain fill (either Aquacoat, Seal-A-Cell, or oil slurry) – Any tips on what type of oil to use with the slurry?
3. Sand smooth – does anyone plane instead?
4. Apply Arm R Seal Satin – I’m hoping this won’t give me a plastic look


11 replies so far

View darinS's profile


676 posts in 2290 days

#1 posted 02-14-2014 08:45 PM


I believe you typically fill the grain before staining. I would guess that if you are staining before glue-up, do it then (with the glue faces protected) otherwise do it after.

Unfortunately, as for the rest of your question, I am probably less aware of the correct answer than you are. Best of luck with your project, and I hope to see it in your projects when you’re done.

-- They say many people die because of alcohol. They never realized how many of them are born because of it.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

21579 posts in 1761 days

#2 posted 02-14-2014 09:24 PM

My thoughts are to glue first.

As to the rest of your questions, every project is done as an individual for me. It’s based on the look I am trying to achieve. That’s why we learn on every project we do.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View gfadvm's profile


14932 posts in 2113 days

#3 posted 02-15-2014 01:48 AM

Do the glue up first, then I sand to 180 and fill grain with Timbermate Grain Filler. Then finish sanding with finer grits.

I would not fill the grain on the hidden surfaces.

Filling grain by sanding with oil or various finishes is a much messier and time consuming process. Timbermate has been my friend!

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

View Fettler's profile


200 posts in 1420 days

#4 posted 02-15-2014 02:01 AM

i’ve had ok luck with timbermate. One thing you have to watch out for is mold/fungi growing on the timbermate. I do wood working in my basement and in the summer it can be pretty humid. I built an end table where i ended up with purple, pen ink colored, fungi/mold stains.

I’ve been experimenting shellac with pumice as a filler (french polish).

Glue first for sure.

-- --Rob, Seattle, WA

View Kryptic's profile


294 posts in 1083 days

#5 posted 02-15-2014 02:22 AM

Speaking off the record, I am not a fan of “filler” as my observations of using it, have cost me a tad too much money and have become a fan of “ZERO” tolerance for it

its evil, and within ones own lifetime, will rear its ugly head

when necessary, I would prefer to leave the head, of a hand forged rectangular nail proud, then add filler

i hate filler and have argued the merits of adding it, at the cost of keeping my job : )

at some point of the learning curve, it isnt needed

View Wiltjason's profile


56 posts in 1385 days

#6 posted 02-15-2014 02:46 AM

When I use it I sand to 180/220 grit glue it up, then stain it, then apply the filler, then use #0000 steel wool to remove the excess after it hazes over then add my topcoat

View Kryptic's profile


294 posts in 1083 days

#7 posted 02-15-2014 02:51 AM

adding steel wool to the program, is an element of oxidation you wont soon forget

View Kryptic's profile


294 posts in 1083 days

#8 posted 02-15-2014 02:53 AM

why the #$%@ do you have to fill open grain woods ?

View jonsprague0000's profile


80 posts in 1012 days

#9 posted 02-15-2014 03:03 AM

Kryptic, you don’t have to fill open grain woods. This is my second project and first project with an open grain. I figured I would try filling. I may just fill the top because I want it smooth. When you say the steel wool is an element of oxidation, what does that mean? I take it that it’s a good thing?

View Kryptic's profile


294 posts in 1083 days

#10 posted 02-15-2014 03:12 AM

my preference would be leave the wood in the natural state it was harvested

and choose a wood to serve its cause, and choose a wood that was more closed grain, when pen is put to paper

View Kryptic's profile


294 posts in 1083 days

#11 posted 02-15-2014 03:23 AM

for me, filler is the irrevocable cause of alarm bells going off at a million miles an hour of a mistake made eons ago

and will argue the merits of using it, till the sun rises and sets a bizillion times

as the rewards of using it, brings the onslaught of opinions who are young

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