Filling Grain on Oak Veneer

      Advice on using a pore filler after staining and sealing, to fill grain without hiding the dark grain pattern. March 12, 2006

We are doing a staining job for 6 Columns and some light trays that were all veneered with Red Oak. We are trying to achieve an extremely smooth finish without the deep red oak grain being indented. Are there any pre fillers that can be used to fill the grain so it isn't indented and the finish is all the same level? Or, do we have to keep shooting the clear and sanding it down with a block until it fills the deep grains?

This is our finishing process:
First we sand the veneer with a 120 grit and then we sand it with a 220 grit. Remove all dust off the veneer and then shoot 2 100% coats of ML Campbell WoodSong 2 Microton spray stain (WS2 M307 Red). After the stain dries, we shoot 3 coats of ML Campbell Magnalac Precatalyzed Lacquer (C144 14 Satin-35). Between each Lacquer coat we sand with a 220 and leave the 3rd coat unsanded.

The result is very nice as far as consistency but the deep grains of the red oak veneer are not filling up the way we want. We even tried heavily sanding the veneer before shooting the stain to smooth it out some and it just lost that dark color grain it had. Does anyone have any ideas?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor:
Check with your supplier to see if they have a paste wood pore filler. You could use a catalyzed sealer and keep sanding it back aggressively until the pores are filled and leveled, but that's quite a bit of work. It's easier to stain the wood, seal it, smooth the sealer, then use a pore filler.

From contributor A:
A vinyl sealer will do a better job in bridging the pores of the oak. Don't put so much finish (MagnaLaq) on that the pores exceed the 4-5 mil dry film. It will only cost you later on when the pores start to exhibit problems from too thick of a coating. You should also think about switching to MagnaMax. This is what I use and it is easy to get a nice finish, very forgiving. I haven't heard too many nice things about the MagnaLaq, although I have never used it.

From the original questioner:
I attached a picture of the finish we did. If you look at the reflective part on the right side of the picture you will see the deep grooves or open pores. All I want to be able to do is fill those open pores up without losing the black or dark grain.

From contributor B:
Based on the pictures I've seen, Id suggest that you use a translucent grain filler whenever you use oak, mahogany etc. if you want to maintain the black grain. You can use pumice and linseed oil (after staining) or you can use plaster of paris and linseed oil as alternative.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for all the responses. It looks like there are a few ways to fill the grains/pores. We will try the pore filling paste first on a sample and see how that works. What color tint should we use for the paste to simulate the deep grain of the red oak? We want to keep the deep grains dark, so should we go with a brown or black?

From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor:
Try a sample with burnt umber, one with Van Dyke brown, and one with black Ruben. Black is pretty stark, although you may like it after trying a sample.

From the original questioner:
To Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor: I noticed above you said "It's easier to stain the wood, seal it, smooth the sealer, then use a pore filler". In other words, I do this in this order: sand, stain, seal, sand, pore filler, sand, clear?

From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor:
After the pore filler you may be able to get away with synthetic steel wool to clean up the field. It depends on how much of the filler is still on the surface after it dries. If you need to be more aggressive, a light sanding with 220 or finer grit will do the job. You may need a second application of the pore filler to get the surface completely level.

From the original questioner:
I'm going to pick up the pore filler tomorrow. Can you recommend any good brands for me to look for? Or any brands to stay away from?

From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor:
If you're working with a finishing supplier, they should have a pore filler and tint it if you want them to. I use Chemcraft's and it works fine. I prefer oil-based versus water-based because of the longer working time. Behlen also has a good pore filler.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Finishing

  • KnowledgeBase: Finishing: General Wood Finishing

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2016 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article