I have had good luck using either Minwax wood hardener which works pretty well or I have mixed my own epoxy cocktail as I call it. I mix 5 minute epoxy up and a pretty good amount. I then mix in Denatured Alcohol till it is about the consistancy of milk. I paint it on till it won't take anymore. I let it setup for at least overnight. I have had good luck using both of these. On your wood I would also take light cuts. If you try to take to much you will do as you said take out chunks. Just my $1.298.
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