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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am new to working with wood. I am refinishing an antique table and chairs. I've read that I need wood filler or grain filler (I don't remember which), I don't know the difference. Can anyone help me please.
 

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where's my table saw?
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self defining, sorta

Grain filler is a paste that you wipe on, let set a bit then wipe off and fills only the tiny pores of the grain. It helps the stain even out and look more uniform.

A wood filler is a putty that is used to fill gaps and missing material in larger areas. Wood filler does not stain the same color and value as the surrounding wood in general.
 

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I am new to working with wood. I am refinishing an antique table and chairs. I've read that I need wood filler or grain filler (I don't remember which), I don't know the difference. Can anyone help me please.
"Grain filler" is also called "paste wood filler". It's available in both waterbase and solvent base. It does just that...fill the grain. It is available in a "natural", or in colors, or can be tinted.

For filling holes per se, a wood putty is used. It's different than a grain filler in its consistency. It's used for larger voids in the surface than just filling the grain. For whichever you use, follow the label directions for the specific product.






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When using grain filler I prefer to take off the excess with a wide blade "putty knife." I feel that the soft cloth used in wiping removes material below the top of the wood level.

George
 

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wood filler /wood putty

You have gotten some good responses about wood putty but it seems your real question is with wood filler. As previously mentioned, paste wood filler goes on before you apply a finish. Generally the more open the grain (i.e. oak, ash, walnut, etc.) will need a more generous amount of filler. The filler will give you a dead flat surface to apply your finish on and is absolutely necessary if you don't want to "feel" the grain in a finished piece of wood. There are a couple of things to watch out for. #1- don't let the filler build up around any mouldings or turnings in the wood. You may need to look closely to see if you have it all out of the groves, if you don't, the finish will not adhere to those places; if you have a flat table top, no problem. I like to use a burlap cloth wrapped around a block of wood to get flat pieces rubbed down. #2- make positively certain that the filler is dry before you apply your finish! If you can, wait 48 hours or more to be certain. If it isn't dry the finish will start to peel off, and this does not occur right away, may take a year (voice of experience.) My father-in-law for over 40 years was one of the finest finishers I ever knew and he learned from a gentleman whom he thought was one of the finest finishers he knew. I don't always use a paste wood filler, but I do if I want a perfectly flat, smooth finish on a piece. I don't know how it works with any other finish other than lacquer, but I can tell you if you use it with lacquer on a piece of red oak you can take a nylon and run it over the wood and it will not get hung up on the grain no matter what the gloss rating of the lacquer is.

Best of Luck,

Bandman
 

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What is the wood you are using? Not every wood needs a grain filler. It's wood like mahogany and walnut that are normally grain filled. Some people fill the grain in oak and ash but most like to see the texture of the wood so they don't use it. It's a personal choice thing. If you don't like to see the texture of the wood in the finish of certain woods then use the grain filler. Woods like pine, alder or maple are closed grain woods and the wood filler wouldn't help. The appearance would be the same whether you used the grain filler or not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It's mahogany. It may be a real duncan phyfe too. I know I'm going to get a talking to about refinishing this and how it will lose its value but it is more sentimental to me (it was my grandmas), my hubby wants new looking solid furniture and we are on a budget. There are cracks in the original finish and a few chips in the veneer that are missing.
 

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It's mahogany. It may be a real duncan phyfe too. I know I'm going to get a talking to about refinishing this and how it will lose its value but it is more sentimental to me (it was my grandmas), my hubby wants new looking solid furniture and we are on a budget. There are cracks in the original finish and a few chips in the veneer that are missing.
Can you post pictures of the pieces? I've finished/refinished Mahogany, both ways...with and without grain filler. If you plan to use it, check the label for the particular product you pick. Some directions suggest on bare wood, while others say after a stain.

If you don't use it you can get a very nice feel of the wood. Mahogany can finish with a very slight feel to the grain differential. On some pieces it looks and feels very nice.




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It's mahogany. It may be a real duncan phyfe too. I know I'm going to get a talking to about refinishing this and how it will lose its value but it is more sentimental to me (it was my grandmas), my hubby wants new looking solid furniture and we are on a budget. There are cracks in the original finish and a few chips in the veneer that are missing.
Cracks in the finish and chips in the veneer may be better fixed in other ways. If you can post some pictures of the particular problem areas we may be able to suggest other solutions. It's possible that filler is the "right" answer. But the post I quoted above leads to think that maybe there is a better solution.

For example, missing veneer can be fixed by making patches that closely match the existing veneer and gluing them in place. In that case, filler would be a worse and more noticeable way to go about it. And finish cracks - to my limited finishing knowledge - should never be filled with wood filler of any kind.

My point isn't to claim that you're on the wrong track. You very well may be. But, to get the most relevant advice from the forum I suggest posting pictures. After all, whether you're concerned with value or not, I imagine you'd want to do the best repair job you can.
 
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