Repairing Chip-Out in a Walnut Table Top

It's possible to fill small defects so that they won't be noticed. February 12, 2007

I've designed a table top using very curly, cross-grained walnut. After passing it through my planer, it chipped out across small portions of the cross grain. What is the most professional way to remedy this without passing it through a drum sander?

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor M:
Well, in theory, you might be able to get it done with very light passes with the lumber dampened with water. If you can skew the board, it would be even better, if the tear out is parallel to the knives. But you have the right idea with the wide belt sander/drum sander. Check with another shop around you that would have this equipment.

From contributor I:
Can you scrape it out?

From the original questioner:
The chip-out is close to 1/16" deep in some spots, so even if I scrape, I'll have to leave a dip in that portion of the surface. Would you ever use filler to remedy this?

From contributor V:
I have the same problem with the highly figured woods I use. I don't use stain on the wood, so if you do, this may not work, or it will have to be done in a different order. I either use clear epoxy or thick cyno glue. I put it in the tear out and then sand back down. When I apply the finish, it is invisible and flat. If you use epoxy, make sue that you use something like clear coat if it's a light wood with a white water lacquer finish, as some of the standard epoxies can be a little amber. If you are using a dark wood and regular lacquer or pre-cat, etc., then standard epoxy is fine. One word of caution: if you use System 3 clear coat to fill them with, wait 48 hours to sand. That is why when I find them just prior to finishing, I use cyno with a catalyst spray.

From contributor R:
Perhaps you could turn the tabletop over.

From contributor P:
I've had success fixing just this problem by adding ebony sanding dust or lampblack to the epoxy. It goes completely black when finished, and tends to mask itself as part of the grain of the walnut (at least that's how I describe it to myself). A tip I got from Sam Maloof, who uses a lot of walnut.

From the original questioner:
Very interesting!