Grain Filler before painting

CEFreemanMarch 22, 2012

Hi all!

Posed to those of you intrepid painters who have handled oak cabinets with paint. :)

I have a ton of mismatched cabinets, mostly oak, with way different grain patterns. I'm painting everything and wanted to get a smoother look. I don't mind some grain, but in this instance, I'd like to tone it down.

I've read several times here about a spackle or compound that has been used, sanded, used, primed blah blah to create a smoother (sometimes described as "more maple") look.

What's your secret product? Or will any spackle work?



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BEHLEN Pore-O-Pac Paste Wood Grain Filler

Under paint you can use the 'natural' (AKA plain) color.

Reduce it with naphtha to the consistency of heavy cream, spread smoothly, wipe across the grain with burlap after the filler 'flashes off' and has a dull look, then follow up with plastic tools.
Plastic disposable drywall knives work pretty well.
Sand lightly after 24-48 hours of drying and you should have a smooth surface with no grain showing.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 10:06AM
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My dad has always used Shelac. The advantages of this are that it dries quickly, and fills the grain. Also, Shelac will stick to anything, and paint will stick to Shelac, so you don't need to prefinsh to degloss if you are using the Shelac.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 11:05AM
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Got it! :)

Thank you.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 11:35AM
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Senator13 is correct. (old school, not many know about that), but, it works great!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 11:44AM
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A new product I've used is TimberMate, and it was easy to handle, easy to sand and finishes beautifully. Non-toxic, mixes with water, and can be reconstituted. I learned about it on a wood working forum. It also STAINS nicely.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 12:06PM
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We used the Pore-o-Pac stuff. You can thin it with mineral spirits (I think--check the directions--might have just been the oil based one you could do that with.) so it is paintable. When dry, you sand it. And repeat until you find the surface is as smooth as you want.

As is with everything....nothing worthwhile is easy.....just keep telling yourself that.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 12:09PM
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beekeeperswife, you've gotten to whom you're speaking! [LOL]
Patience and determination are my blessings and curses.
I have nuttin' but time to do it right.

Or at least as I want it to be!

twlkp76, this TimberMate. Does one need to buy it in a particular color, or does it cover the existing wood so well it'll take any type of stain?

I wondered about some kind of poly or shellac. Good to hear that's a possibility!


    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 12:39PM
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Shellac will not fill oak grain. Once all the alcohol evaporates, it will conform to the surface of the wood, pores and all.
I used the pore-o-pac on all my oak cabinets before staining, to get the real french-polished smoothness (and to downplay the strong grain patterns, which stain exacerbates).

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 8:40PM
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So Casey, does this mean all these people are simply sanding everything until it's actually smooth, no pores, or anything left? Can they all be wrong in their final result?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 10:09AM
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I have no idea what technique others are practicing. I barely know what I'm doing sometimes, and I get paid to finish woodwork!
Heavy coats of shellac will take weeks to fully cure, so you could be seeing the pores reappear long after you have completed the project. The pore-o-pac stuff uses a mineral filler, (silica) which doesn't shrink after applying. It's all tedious, most folks slap on whatever falls easily to hand and declare it a job well done.
Old-school French Polishing used fine-ground pumice and oil for the pore-filler step. Years later, after the oil dries out, the pores will change from deep charcoal gray to ash gray. Uh-oh!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 8:04PM
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