Question with finishing a walnut slab - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 02-26-2018, 11:28 PM Thread Starter
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Question with finishing a walnut slab

Hi, I have a slab of black walnut that I plan to use as a live edge vanity top.. It wasn't planed, I just started sanding at 50 grit. I am now ready to finish and am sanding at 120,It is really nice and smooth like glass but small blotches are starting to show in the grain in certain areas, I think they are probably low spots that didn't show up until I got to the finish sanding ? Its driving me crazy trying to get them out... I hate to go backwards with the sanding, I plan to dye and seal and then finish coat... do you think these small blotchs will show through the finish... I will try to attach some pics if that helps..thanks for any input!!newbie bill
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post #2 of 15 Old 02-26-2018, 11:35 PM
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If you have been using 50 grit that is difficult to get rid of the scratches. I think before you put a finish on it I would wet it with water and see what it looks like. If there is still scratches on it they will show up. If there is no scratches another sanding with 120 grit will make it smooth again. The water will raise the grain. If there is scratches you may have to go back to 80 grit and do some more sanding before going back to 120.

It's hard to say what the blotches might be without seeing it. It might be spots still rough from the 50 grit paper.
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post #3 of 15 Old 02-27-2018, 03:14 AM
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Yes, it is difficult to say what it is. It's possible that they are low spots. It is also possible that they are soft spots in the wood. I have encountered that before. A spot on the wood where the grain is soft and it will never get as smooth as the surrounding area, just a bit fuzzy.
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post #4 of 15 Old 02-27-2018, 01:45 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply's.. It really looks great when wet so I'm thinking it may not be an issue... Having an issu posting pics here.. any quick pointers on that? There some minor scratches in the knot area but am working on them.. the blotches aren't really scratches but are fuzzy like you said...perhaps soft areas in the grain... but it does look ok wet...thanjs
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post #5 of 15 Old 02-27-2018, 01:48 PM Thread Starter
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figured out the pic thing.. wasn't logged in... doh
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post #6 of 15 Old 02-27-2018, 02:47 PM
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The blotches look like spots done with a belt sander. If that is the case these spots will show up badly with a finish on it. They would be small dents you can't see until you get enough coats of finish on.
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post #7 of 15 Old 02-27-2018, 09:07 PM Thread Starter
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Thank You Steve! If i belt sand the whole pc with 120 it comes out pretty good.. Then when i go to finer papers they start to show themselves..I have been using a palm sander for the 150/220, I think that may cause some of it since I'm not getting the coverage i need with the palm..?
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post #8 of 15 Old 02-27-2018, 09:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billyg View Post
Thank You Steve! If i belt sand the whole pc with 120 it comes out pretty good.. Then when i go to finer papers they start to show themselves..I have been using a palm sander for the 150/220, I think that may cause some of it since I'm not getting the coverage i need with the palm..?
With a belt sander if you let the sander tip the slightest bit to one corner or another it will make marks like that. If there is some damage dents or such to the metal shoe it can also make marks like that. Sanding with finer paper will only help if you can manage to keep the sander completely flat. More than likely you will just make more marks like that. If it were me I would sand it with a random orbital sander with 80x paper. If you don't have one you could cut a piece of plastic or a piece of sheet metal to put between the sandpaper and the padding on the palm sander. If it's a mouse type sander that may not be an option as they are probably hook and loop. This would leave you in a position of gluing sandpaper to a block of wood and hand sanding the blotches out. I think I would go buy an orbital sander before I went down that road.
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post #9 of 15 Old 03-01-2018, 05:35 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Steve.. went ahead and picked up a dewalt orbital and hit it with 80 then 150.. looking great so far..I have 1 knot hole I need to fill.. I bought some off the minwax filler in walnut color?.. I havent applied it or opened it yet.. I would kind of liked to have black color to match the knot color, but couldnt find any... any advice on that?
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post #10 of 15 Old 03-01-2018, 10:09 PM
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Thanks Steve.. went ahead and picked up a dewalt orbital and hit it with 80 then 150.. looking great so far..I have 1 knot hole I need to fill.. I bought some off the minwax filler in walnut color?.. I havent applied it or opened it yet.. I would kind of liked to have black color to match the knot color, but couldnt find any... any advice on that?
I've never used the minwax filler so I don't know anything about it. With any filler if the void is big apply the filler in layers instead of globs. After all it was designed to fill nail holes.

If you take a small container to a real paint store they might sell you a couple ounces of black color tint out of their machines. The colorant is a universal tinting color which is compatible with most finishes and you can stir the colorant into the minwax filler. Be sparing. A little goes a long way with black.
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post #11 of 15 Old 03-09-2018, 07:58 PM Thread Starter
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Hi, I'm still attempting to finish this piece, I have sanded to 220 /cleaned with mineral spirits and then attempted to apply some diluted behlen walnut dye. I did not like the results as maybe I didnt dilute it enough but it was way to dark and the pc lost some luster(i didnt take a pic but it wasnt pretty). So, I started sanding again and it seems like I got the most of the dye and its back to kind of where it was before.. there are still areas in the grain that bug me, I guess thats just the way the grain of this pc is..but it bugs me I cant get rid of them..I have attached some pics. the last 2 are after spraying the pc with water. I like that look. The first 2 are of the marks in the grain.. Is that from my sanding job? anyway what steps would you suggest for getting it to look like the picks below when wet? Any help for this green horn appreciated!!! Thanks
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post #12 of 15 Old 03-09-2018, 09:04 PM
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After seeing the wet wood pics....the only thing I see is normal grainage of crotch wood BUT it has some appearance of curly stripes (some call tiger stripes amongst other things) I hope you didn't jump from 50 to 120 and then 220...too much grit between. one should ALWAYS read up on the final finish PRIOR to sanding....some stop at 120 others 150-180 and some at 220 or more.....IT DOES make a difference on the performance and depth the finish works.

Looks like it'll be nice when finished.
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post #13 of 15 Old 03-11-2018, 01:29 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Thanks, yes i progressed through the grits and ended up back 220.. my question is what do you think is the best way to get the 'wet look' for the final finish ..laquer?oil?stain?.. Its going to be a bathroom vanity with a vessel sink so what do you think would provide the best water protection without sacrificing finish.. I really like how the grain popped when wet with water so thats what I'm after I guess.. any pointers? thanks!!!
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post #14 of 15 Old 03-11-2018, 03:55 PM
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I've went back and reread....I either overlooked or didn't see the slab's MC, .....is this wood fresh sawn, slightly green, AD'd, KD'd or ???? THIS is VERY IMPORTANT it does make a difference!!!!! I prefer AD'd to KD'd BUT it can be done greener IF ALL the proper steps are taken. DRYNESS also has to do with proper finish techniques or type of finish. It also requires more attention to joinery and mounting techniques.

The IDEAL is 9-10% BUT 12% as AD can be worked for most beginners. I prefer Waterlox at this time BUT I am trying/testing with Heritage natural finishes. The higher the MC the differ the finish needs to be...the reason being, the wood will continue to dry and loose moisture so a finish as Heritage allows slow evaporation without trapping moisture as most of the plastic/hard finishes do.
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post #15 of 15 Old 03-11-2018, 04:59 PM
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Lacquer wouldn't be a good finish for a wet location. It waterspots easily. Walnut is an open grain wood and traditionally the pores of the wood are filled with a grain filler so you don't see the texture of the wood in the finish. If you wish to do that Mohawk Finishing Products sells a walnut grain filler which would stain the wood and fill the grain in one step. Then when dry I would finish it with an oil based polyurethane. Polyurethane will provide a waterproof finish which is hard and durable and if you want the "wet" look use a high gloss finish. If you wish to see the texture of the wood in the finish just use the stain of your choice and apply a finish over the top. Just keep in mind the color and appearance of the wood wet is what it would look like with just putting a clear finish on it. I don't personally like to stain walnut. If you use a grain filler you could sand the wood again removing the color the grain filler put on the wood.

To prevent cup warpage be sure to finish the underside of the top too. Moisture from the air can make the wood swell on the unfinished side of the top causing it to bow.
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