Michael Dresdner

straight talk about wood finishing

Open pore or filled

Q: I would like to use the shellac and wax finish we learned during the uke building class on a classical guitar I built, but it’s Indian Rosewood and the pores look a bit open. Do I need filler first?
A: The finish you used on your ukulele is a very thin, open pore finish. It will also work on a guitar made of open pore wood, though the pores will remain open. That in itself is not a problem; it is an option. If you like the look of an open pore finish, and I must admit that I do, there’s no reason to fill the pores.
If, on the other hand, you want the pores filled so that the surface looks more like glass than wood, you’ll save a lot of time and effort by filling the pores with pore filler before layering on finish. I should point out that pore filling is usually paired with thicker, multi-coat built up finishes that get rubbed out to gloss, not with thin, natural looking flood on and wipe off finishes such as what you have on your ukulele.