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Thread: Building up a finish - finishing an open pore wood

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Long Hill Township, NJ

    Building up a finish - finishing an open pore wood

    Help . . . .

    I'm in the finishing stages of a project using some varieties of mahogany.

    I was hoping that shellac would fill the open pores and after enough coats would give me a smooth finish. Doesn't appear to be happening after 6 - 8 coats of Bullseye Shellac.

    The open pores remain open. I'd post pictures but then I'd ruin the surprise on the box swap. I'd rather ruin it when the open the box and see my creation . . .

    Anyway - since I'm 6 - 8 coats in I'm not sure I can use a pore filler - if I could find one. Is this due to the open pores of the wood or am I missing something? Should I thin the shellac so it flows into the pores? Is 6 -8 coats a mere pittance when using shellac?

    I'll try to post a cropped picture in a short while.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    You'll probably hear everything you don't want to hear so I'll just start right in. As you discovered shellac will not fill voids well at all. Secondly shellac is a thin film finish, it does not build well and generally demonstrates alligatoring or other unpleasant behavior when too many coats are used. The fact that you have gotten to 8 coats without issue is a credit to your enormous skill; my hat is off to you.

    I continue knowing that if I were at the point you are now, I would convince myself that "the pores are beautiful" and "what was I thinking in trying to fill them up" . If I were dead-set on a pore-free finish, I would strip all the shellac off with rags soaked in DNA, changing rags furiously and scrubbing like I was trying to remove the color of the wood itself. Then use a pore filler to take care of most of the stuff that didn't get filled and 2 coats of shellac . . . and then a bit of paste wax.
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 03-25-2011 at 02:15 PM. Reason: sp
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Are you sanding back to raw wood after every coat or two of finish? Unless you re-level the surface as you go, the pores will always be the low spots.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Outside the beltway
    now you got the shelled on an easy remedy is to use denature alcohol and rub the finish off. using a figure 8 motion remove as much as you can, changing rags often. When you get down to almost bare wood the grain may or may not be filled depending on how you did. After you are dots that point sand and finish. There are other option but there conplexed.
    I dream a lot. I do more painting when I'm not painting. It's in the subconscious.
    ::: Andrew Wyeth :::

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