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Frank Hagan

Finishing: Home Made Grain Filler

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I saw an article in FWW (Fine Wood Working) magazine regarding the use of BLO (boiled linseed oil) and 4F grade pumice as a grain filler for porous woods. I tried it last night on the boat-cradle I'm building, and I'm impressed.

The process is really simple ... you flood on the BLO, spread it out, and then sprinkle about a tablespoon of the pumice per square foot. Using a cloth and a circular motion, you work the pumice into the pores of the wood. It turns transparent when mixed with the BLO, but on the cloth you can see that its abrasive enough that it mixes up a fine slurry of the wood. Used on red oak it turned the rag a muddy beige color, and used on mahogany, it turned a fresh rag a muddy brown color. It has the benefit of thickening the BLO also, so it doesn't bleed out of the pores as much as its curing. After you're satisfied with the results, you wipe with e a fresh cloth across the grain to remove any residual pumice on the surface of the wood.

The red oak required several applications of BLO and pumice to fill the pores, but it did the job. I like this technique because it has plenty of "open time" and you can easily see the results by looking across the surface at an acute angle to see how the light is hitting the surface.

I think you would have to be careful with a stained piece, as the pumice is abrasive and would probably wear through a suface stain.

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I like that ... you get 4F pumice from a physical misfit volcano!

The article in FWW said you can get it at any home improvement store, but I couldn't find it at Home Depot, Lowes or "Do it Best". I finally found it online at Jeff Jewitt's site, http://www.homesteadfinishing.com/

He's got a lot of great stuff on the site with pretty good prices. I'll be trying some of the Target Coatings "Oxford" water based lacquer that I bought there in a few weeks.

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