Filling Wood Grain for Perfect Finishing
A watery mix of insoluble materials is a slurry. To Jim, that means an oil/varnish, such as Watco Danish Oil, mixed with sanding dust. "The Watco darkens the pores for contrast," he says. "I pour a liberal amount on the surface, then sand vigorously with 100-grit-the paper has to produce sanding dust."
With burlap, a towel, or an old washcloth, Jim packs the slurry into the wood. "I don't wipe off any excess slurry," he notes. "I just let it dry overnight. Then, I sand it again, adding more oil if needed. The new sanding dust blends with the original slurry and further fills the pores when I pack it in. This time, I wipe off the excess before letting the surface dry. After the second slurrying, all the grain should be filled."
The tinted oil in the slurry will have colored the entire wood surface. To color only the pores requires removing the dried surface oil with more sanding. "If you don't want to stain the wood," Jim advises, "simply use a clear or natural oil, such as linseed oil diluted about one-third with paint thinner. Then your slurry will take on the ambient color of the wood and tend to wash out the grain for an even look (see photo below left). In either case, I let the surface dry for several days before final sanding and the application of a finish coat."
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