Steve Nuel I am trying work up the nerve to use a grain filler because I think I'll be happier with a smoother finish. Reading up and watching some videos, etc. You mentioned Mohawk and I can get it locally. My biggest fear is the color. If I choose pieces with some sapwood, won't the tinted filler be undesirable?? What do I do about that?
You really won't need it with the finish you are applying. Grain filler is more for an open pore species such as red oak that soaks in the film as it dries. Walnut is very dense, and doesn't do this near as bad.
Sand the top to 320 grit. Put your first coat of finish on it, allowing 24 hours for cure. Sand it level with 400 or 320 grit paper, and apply a second coat. Allow to dry to touch, and apply a 3rd coat. Using a white finishing pad, lightly buff the surface to remove any nibs or dust particles.
Allow 48 hours for full curing, flip the piece over, and apply at least two coats of finish on the bottom side of the counter. This is to minimize wood movement, and help to prevent warpage. Make sure to apply finish to all the edges as well, especially the end grain.
You can then install the top on the ledgers.
No way would I use a grain filler on a project piece without practicing on scrap first. Especially if you need to tint to match. And furthermore, especially if I had never done it before,and it isn't truly needed.
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