Filling Flaky Leopardwood Veneer Before Finishing

Advice on fillers and compatible topcoats for a troublesome veneered tabletop. August 22, 2013

Question (WOODWEB Member) :
I'm looking for advice on filling flaky leopardwood veneer that is applied to a high-end hall table. This veneer has the highly visible medullary rays that are really beautiful but a nightmare to get a full fill finish. Some of these rays are missing and leave cavities. I want a smooth satin finish over a penetrating stain.

What are my options? I am contemplating trying a tinted two part epoxy table top finish to fill these cavities, sand back to the veneer, stain and then topcoat with pre-cat lacquer. Are there any compatibility issues with this? I've read about polyesters but have never used the stuff. Some suggest topcoating with acrylic urethane or polyurethane (2 part). Again, never used those products.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor R:
Simple: MLC Level sealer.

From contributor L:
Yep, what he said.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the response - I will definitely check this product out. I assume one can topcoat the level sealer with pre-cat or post-cat lacquer/finish.

From contributor L:
That's what it's designed for. The level sealer is just that, a sanding sealer. It would be a terrible topcoat as it scratches easy. I did a white oak bar top with this and got it glass smooth. Took a while though. Three rounds of 8 mil coats and then 24 hours to dry and shrink and sand as flat as it would go without burning into the stain. Then 3 more rounds of 8 mil coats and a week to shrink back. Then sand it with 320-500 until it is dead flat. But this is white oak, which has a very deep pore. Not sure how deep leopard wood is.

From contributor R:
You must (should) use a top coat that is a Post Cat (CV) lacquer, like Krystal or Duravar that is catalyzed. I would not use Magnamax nor Magnalac or any ordinary pre-cat lacquer. But you could experiment and take lots of notes for your sample boards and see what works for you! Good luck and read everything on each product.

From contributor L:
I don't think you would have a single problem with using a pre-cat over the top of Level Sealer as long as you sanded it and top-coated it soon (few hours). If you are talking about durability of the top, then I agree. Although I think Krystal scratches show up a lot more than the same on MagnaMax or MagnaKlear. Polish will usually take care of them either way.

From contributor I:
Or you could use a polyester sealer, fill it in one day and sand and top coat with 2k urethane the next day. If you haven't used polyester, it does have a nasty learning curve and must be done the correct way.