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 Post subject: Grain filler questions
PostPosted: Mar Tue 21, 2017 12:35 am 
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Joined: Dec Sun 29, 2013 10:11 pm
Posts: 54
I have been following, studying, and learning from numerous threads here on wood cabinet refinishing, and have not seen my main area of uncertainty addressed. I like to be familiar with what I am about to do before I start in, and I don’t want to buy the wrong stuff and make a mess of my work. I have successfully used stains, removers, and solvents, and products from Howards and Formby, but have never used grain filler. I have two radio cabinets to refinish.

My questions - GRAIN FILLER:

Is it a liquid like paint, or is it much thinner like solvents; or is it more like a paste, like wax, or putty, or ordinary wood filler (for filling dents, gouges, etc.)? What is the best method for applying it - brush, spatula, squeegee, or first one and then the other?

Is it clear, or does it have a color, and if so, does its color affect the color of the bare wood it is applied to? (I have read that it can be tinted with the stain to be used on the piece, which led me to this question.)

Is there more than one type? (Not brand, but type of filler, for filling grain imperfections and smoothing the surface.)

After it dries on the surface, does it wipe off easily (with horse hair, burlap, rags, etc.) or is it difficult to wipe off, as if to require light sanding?

In one application usually enough, or are several applications needed for a typical stripped wood radio cabinet? Sanding in between coats?

Awaiting replies, and thanks in advance for this and any other related information. I plan to use Mohawk products in spray cans, since I have nowhere to set up a spray booth.

CharlesD


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 Post subject: Re: Grain filler questions
PostPosted: Mar Tue 21, 2017 9:10 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 2219
Location: England
Can only speak about the stuff I use Charles and that is Rustins which is a spirit based product. Coloured is available but hard to get so I buy natural and tint it with a spirit stain, normally dark walnut. Can also add a little Mineral Spirit to it if it is still too thick. In the tin it is putty coloured and about the same consistency.

I thin it too about thick cream and apply it, cross grain, using a rubber squeegee. It 'sets up' pretty quick and I rub off using an old but clean piece of sacking. It will still leave some behind and I sand with about #300 grit which is fairly tough as it clogs the paper.

Then repeat and repeat finishing up with say #600 paper, if it looks against the light as if the cabinet has a sheen then that is usually fine for me.

There will be other replies.

Gary


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 Post subject: Re: Grain filler questions
PostPosted: Mar Tue 21, 2017 4:15 pm 
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Joined: Mar Sat 28, 2009 8:27 pm
Posts: 684
Location: Georgia
1. Grain filler is used to fill the grains of open grained woods such as walnut, mahogany, etc.
2. I have been using oil based mohawk grain fillers for 50 years and prefer them.
3. Mohawk supplies them in cans and I find the quart size most convienient since it is easier to stir and fits into my electric paint shaker. When initially opening a can it should be THOROUGHLY stirred to an even consistancy. You should then transfer some to a smaller pint container or jar for thinning/using.
4. You can thin it with turpentine, mineral spirits, or naptha. I prefer turpentine but I am old school. Thin your filler to a consistantcy of mayonaise. You can add stains to your filler if you like but it can also be purchased in colors such as black, red, brown, etc.
5. NOTE: grain filler is not intended to fill imperfections in the wood - its name is GRAIN filler.
6. After staining your wood and sealing it with either shellac or sanding sealer you are ready to fill. The sealing after staining is important unless you want a muddy looking final finish.
7. Apply the filler using a bristle brush with the grain and let it sit until it begins to "dull" in appearance. Then used a rubber squeege ACROSS the grain to remove the filler and return the excess from the squeege to your jar. The rubber squeege forces the filler down into the grain and literally "packs" it in.
8. Apply two more applications of filler an hour apart and then let it dry overnight.
9. Inspect the surface carefully using a bright angular light and check for the flatness of the wood surface. All filler shrinks when it drys and you may have to fill it again. You want the surface FLAT - FLAT.
10. Apply sanding sealer or shellac on top of the filled surface and then apply lacquer topcoats.
People get conncerned over grain filler and think they have to use exotic things like burlap, russian mule skin, etc. but grain filler is just a colored paste used to fill the open grains of wood. If you use a darker color than your stain it yields a nice contrast and gives depth to the final finish. I used black filler on some mahogany pianos for a stunning depth. Good luck.


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 Post subject: Re: Grain filler questions
PostPosted: Mar Tue 21, 2017 5:32 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 2219
Location: England
"The sealing after staining is important unless you want a muddy looking final finish."

Well I don't find this as the grain filler is only in the grain and not on the surface. I may do another stain coat after the filling.

Here's a couple of pics for you:

One that was grain filled with non tinted filler and he actually used no toner (or looks like stain either). It belongs to a friend who bought the cabinet as shown. It is wrong of course.

Attachment:
561 edge on WEB.jpg
561 edge on WEB.jpg [ 137 KiB | Viewed 890 times ]


Here is my one refinished by me and as far as I can tell about correct colour. Notice how the dark grain filler looks so much nicer IO.

Attachment:
561 front WEB.jpg
561 front WEB.jpg [ 195.76 KiB | Viewed 882 times ]


The knob inset panel is not so dark in the flesh.

Gary


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 Post subject: Re: Grain filler questions
PostPosted: Mar Tue 21, 2017 10:08 pm 
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Joined: Mar Sat 28, 2009 8:27 pm
Posts: 684
Location: Georgia
The sealing before filling is imperative. The reason being that the filler has some stain or pigment content and you do not want this to pigment or stain your previously stained surface. If you stain after filling then you are working toward a monocolored surface that diminishes the depth and attenuates the desirable contrast between the filled grains and the substrate. I attended a Steinway finishing seminar in the late 60's in which this technique was stressed. However, to each his own.


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 Post subject: Re: Grain filler questions
PostPosted: Mar Wed 22, 2017 9:21 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 2219
Location: England
OK, with you eeprof. Next time I will give it a try.

Thinking about it I grain fill as the first stage of prep and only stain afterwards, so if some staining of the wood by the filler has taken place then I only stain very lightly, effectively taking it into account. Probably how it has worked out for me

thanks Gary


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 Post subject: Re: Grain filler questions
PostPosted: Mar Thu 23, 2017 12:58 am 
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Joined: Dec Sun 29, 2013 10:11 pm
Posts: 54
Thank you, eeprof and Radio Fixer, for your thoughtful helps and suggestions. When spring and warm weather return to Virginia, I will start in and learn how to refinish radio cabinets. CharlesD


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 Post subject: Re: Grain filler questions
PostPosted: Apr Tue 11, 2017 11:41 pm 
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Joined: Dec Sun 29, 2013 10:11 pm
Posts: 54
Greetings, all - I am working on the cabinet for my Radiola 18, and have another question. There are a number of dents in the wood, as if something fell against it in the past. What is the best way to deal with these? (See photo below.) I have some Elmer's stainable wood filler from Lowes if that is good for this kind of damage. Or is there some way to raise the wood in the dents back to where it was? I plan to refinish the cabinet as natural wood, with little or no stain color added. Thanks for any suggestions.


Attachments:
Radiola 18 cabinet damage composite .jpg
Radiola 18 cabinet damage composite .jpg [ 79.84 KiB | Viewed 579 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Grain filler questions
PostPosted: Apr Wed 12, 2017 9:07 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 2219
Location: England
Steaming dents or wet cloths have never worked for me and in my experience you will never get a match with fillers but there is a way if you are going to spray the cabinet with cellulose lacquer, I don't know how if you are going to use anything else. Its slooow but easy.

I always have nearly prepped the cabinet before starting, including giving it a stain wash, as you need some colour in the dents

You have to prop the cabinet so the non perforated damage to the veneer is horizontal. Then spray some lacquer into a clean lid and using an artists brush drop a little in the wound and let it dry. Quite quickly it will shrink back so you have to keep doing it but can use the lacquer still in the lid if it is not too thick (the lacquer in the dent will dry quicker as there is less of it). Then reposition the cabinet for the next wound, I did say it was slow :). When the lacquer bubbles are above surface height then put the cabinet a away for a couple of weeks. Then the 'bumps' can be sanded with say #600 grit until they are flat. When the cabinet is sprayed the top surface of the lacquer, in what was a dent reflows, effectively you are looking through it and it should be an invisible repair.

Of course you can use sealer coats and extra stain after spraying some lacquer.

Attachment:
Cab WEB.JPG
Cab WEB.JPG [ 123.85 KiB | Viewed 564 times ]


Gary


Last edited by Radio Fixer on Apr Fri 14, 2017 8:39 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Grain filler questions
PostPosted: Apr Thu 13, 2017 1:36 am 
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Joined: Dec Sun 29, 2013 10:11 pm
Posts: 54
Many thanks, Radio Fixer, for your suggestions. I don't mind slow as long as the results are predictable and good.


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 Post subject: Re: Grain filler questions
PostPosted: Apr Fri 14, 2017 8:34 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 2219
Location: England
Charles, I amended the last line of my previous post. A small error ...

Well it works for me but you could always try it on a piece of scrap veneered wood first. Just knock some dents, stain and when left for a day or two shoot some lacquer on it.

Here's the cabinet of the last posting after rubbing out:

Attachment:
Example of Mohawk small.jpg
Example of Mohawk small.jpg [ 127.96 KiB | Viewed 497 times ]


Gary


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