Turning Archive 2005

grain filling

GaryG in MD
>I'm turning some bowls out of a neighbor's storm-damaged red oak. The grain pattern of this wood is obviously a major consideration in the finishing and final appearance.

I plan to experiment with two alternate approaches: 1) accentuating the grain for artistic effect and 2) disguising the grain to a reasonable extent to try to make it look less like the open-grained wood that it is. I would like to hear some of your experiences regarding these two approaches.

In the first case, I'm considering rubbing black shoe polish or powdered charcoal or (you tell me) into the grain pattern. Should I do this before or after the first finish coat? I'll probably use Watco Danish Oil. Should I seal with shellac before the rub or not? What would you recommend?

In the second case, I want to try to fill the grain enough to permit an optically smooth finish (although the grain pattern will still be visible, to a certain extent, in residual color contrast). I know you can buy grain fillers in the store, but I am also aware that you can make a slurry while wet sanding and let that fill the grain. Which is preferred? Is there a real need for the commercial product, or not? Any thoughts on the specific steps needed to make an optically smooth finish would be appreciated (and, is it worth the effort?).

Thanks for your thoughts,


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