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Filling In The Pores To Create A "Piano Finish"
Since ultimately all woodworking projects are judged by their finish, you may want to consider adding a touch of elegance to your own project by filling the pores of the wood. Filling the pores creates a finish that is as smooth as glass. No matter what you are making, if you are serious about woodworking, you will want to learn how to fill pores to create this lovely finish. Some species of wood have more pores of larger size than others. An example would be to compare Maple, which has very few and very small pores with Oak, which has larger pores in greater quantity. While Maple may not need to have the pores filled to create a nice finish, if you want that smooth finish with Oak, pore filling is a necessity.
Today, there are two basic types of fillers on the market: oil-based and water-based. Oil-based fillers have been used for generations, and over the years they have been refined and are now easier to apply than they used to be. Oil-based fillers come in two types: a true oil-based filler, or one mixed with varnish. The real difference between the two lies in the time required for drying before a protective surface coat can be applied. True oil-based fillers may need several days to dry between applications, while a varnish filler has the possibility of being ready for its topcoat in only a few hours. You can apply your oil-based filler directly onto the bare wood. You can choose either a natural color that will match the wood, or one that contains a stain or a color. Using this technique, the filler becomes both a filler and a stain. Japan colors can be applied this way. The other method would be to apply the stain to the wood first. When it is dry, you seal it with a finish, and then apply the filler. Using this method, the filler only fills the pores that were not fully covered by the top coat.
The look you get is controlled by your method of application. If you apply the filler to bare wood, the filler will color both the wood and the pores, while application after sealing only colors the pores.
A thin sealing coat will let a little bit of color from the filler affect the wood surface, while a thicker coat will protect the wood completely, allowing the filler to only affect the pores. Be sure to sand the area well before applying the filler. Use a 320 grit sandpaper.
Before you apply filler to your woodworking project, make sure it is clean. Don't leave any dirt or dust behind. You can apply the filler by hand or spray it on. If you choose to apply it by hand, be sure to use a brush with very stiff bristles so the filler is forced into the pores. When you have finished applying the filler to an area of your project, be sure to squeegee off the excess immediately. If you don't have a commercially made squeegee, and old credit card or other item with a firm flat edge will work just as well. When the filler is dry, use cheesecloth or a wadded piece of burlap to wipe off any excess that remains.
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