Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 142, June 2017 Welcome to Highland Woodworking - Fine Tools & Education Learn more about Highland Woodworking View our current woodworking classes and seminars Woodworking articles and solutions Subscribe to Wood News
Oil Based vs. Waterborne Pore Fillers Finishing Tip
By Alan Noel
Professional Wood Finisher

To my eyes there is nothing more beautiful than a mirror finish on highly figured woods such as curly maple or lacewood, which brings out and accentuates the figures and grain patterns that are present in the woods themselves known as "chatoyance." This 3D effect can be achieved by using pore fillers and by building the finish to a level that is "proud" of the surface of the wood, which in turn creates the 3D effect when exposed to a light source.

When I started my business some 30 plus years ago there was only one type of pore filler on the market, which was an oil based filler. Although it worked well and did the job, it was slow to dry, hard to sand off the residual filler left on the surface, was only available in a few colors and was very hard to work with to say the least. Also, the drying times were very unpredictable since the fillers were greatly affected by temperatures lower than 65 degrees and humidity levels also made oil based fillers unpredictable. And then there was the problem of "oil bloom", which is when the gases from the filler are trying to escape and get trapped in the finish, which can create a cloudy appearance to the surface of the finish. When this happened your only choice was to remove the finish and start over.

Several years ago water-based pore fillers were introduced to the market along with other waterborne finishing products. After receiving a sample I gave it a try and am so glad I did. This new water based filler performed much better than I ever expected it to since I was an old-fashioned finisher and very slow to adopt other methods of work. However this waterborne filler won me over. Just goes to show, you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Waterborne fillers dry very fast and can be sped up with a hair dryer if need be. These types of fillers can be tinted, sanded very easily (sanding through a wash coat and stain coat becomes much less of a problem), cleaned up with water so there is no oily mess, and they also work great with any solvent based finishing materials. When using these fillers, be sure to wear a dust mask when sanding since they do contain silica.

It goes without saying that here in the shop the only pore fillers we use these days are waterborne.

Alan can be reached directly via email c/o Alan Noel Furniture Refinishing at anoelfurniturere@bellsouth.net . You can also visit Alan's website by CLICKING HERE .

Visiting Atlanta? Attend one of Alan's upcoming highly informative Highland Woodworking wood finishing seminars:

June 14, 2017  Finishing the Finish
June 24-25, 2017  Antique Restoration
July 8, 2017  Spray Finishing
July 12, 2017  French Polish Workshop
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