Michael Dresdner

straight talk about wood finishing

Pore it on

Q: I would like to finish some oak with solid color lacquer from a spray can. I want the finished surface to be very smooth and have the grain completely hidden. I’ve been using Crystalac brand grain filler, but after five coats the grain is still visible in places. Should I continue with more coats, or is there another product I could use?
A: You could continue with more coats, or you can use a different filler, or you can do the last bit with finish. At this point, the last option may be the best.
As you have discovered, the one problem with clear fillers, all of them, is that they tend to shrink and are thus not as efficient at filling as opaque fillers. Had you asked me in advance, I would have suggested the following. Filling woods like oak and ash is an exercise in frustration, because the pores are so large and taper so gently that you will spend a lot of time filling and still have some undulation. For that reason, we rarely do filled pore finishes on such woods. If you must, the best filler is one designed for filling the pores of oak flooring. There are many brands, but my favorite is Timbermate, which comes in more than a dozen different colors and is very easy to work with. http://www.timbermate.com/
At this point, since you have already mostly filled the pores, the simplest option may be to switch to primer. Most primers, whether brushed or aerosol, build quickly and sand easily, making them ideal for filling the shallow depressions left after clear filler. Expect to apply several coats and do several sanding operations, but that should give you a surface smooth enough for your colored aerosol topcoat.