I’m in the process of painting our kitchen cabinets, which I’m sure you all know, is a HUGE undertaking. Grain filler is different to sanding sealer which as the name implies seals the timber. You then sand (most of) the residue sealer off leaving the wood exposed to form the surface. Our grain filler can be thinned with turpentine for easier spreading, and for cleaning up. Proper preparation, starting with the grain filler, is absolutely crucial to achieving a high quality professional finish. I personally do not think our kitchen cabinets would have been a DIY project after seeing what Adel went through to achieve this look.
Then I would follow with a clear varnish and top coat , to help with the gradual darkening phases of color , while still being able to acheive grain texture thru – out the finishing procedure. Then raise the grain by wiping your work with a wet rag, letting it dry, and doing a light sanding once again at the same grit you left off with. The pores once filled, will be the color of the filler but the wood should only be slightly darker. Today I’ll try reversing the first 2 steps, i.e. Seal-A-Cell followed by grain filler.
If it were up to me, I would rather see real wood, over painted MDF, granite counters over Formica, and I wouldn’t concern myself over what some fad or product pushing company has to say about my personal preference for kitchen cabinets. In my way of thinking.. I would think you would WANT the wood to show thru so that it didn’t end up looking like high end MDF… as opposed to real genuine wood, which would affect resale values eventually…. You can give your walnut woodworking project a little enhancement by filling the grain.
I globbed on the filler until the pores were filled….then I used a razor scraper to remove the excess, the scraper levels out the filler and leaves it in the pores, which is where it is supposed to be! If you’ve ever sprayed nitrocellulose lacquer directly onto spongy wood like poplar, you know they absorb quite a bit before the film starts to build. Then, using a coarse cloth like a piece of burlap, wipe off the excess working against the grain, trying to cut the filler off at the surface. Do this by first rubbing firmly with the grain and lastly rubbing against it to really work the grain filler into the timber pores.
Next time I’ll use a rag or even a paint or foam brush to work it into the grain. Paste Wood Fillers are made up of various materials such as Calcium Carbonate, Barium Hydroxide, Barlite, Silica and, in the case of colored paste fillers, paste colorants are added for colors. We use a comparable material, called wood putty or wood filler, to fix gouges or voids in wood.
Keep another bucket beneath the station where you cut the wood so it collects the sawdust in case there isn’t enough dust produced from sanding. Remove it by carefully sanding with 220 or 320 grit paper until there is filler only in the pores and not on the wood between them. Unlike wood putties, paste filler should not be used to fill nail holes or cracks in wood.
If you look up at the cabinets from an odd angle you can slightly, and oh so very slightly see some movement, but nothing that you would even think twice about. Use a hide glue if you intend to stain or dye the wood after adding the wood grain filler, as it doesn’t absorb the stain or dye and results in blotches and spots. I think it’s good to go on with the sealer now but it might be worth to have a go with grain filler again and get some M3, just the be absolutely sure. You will have to apply the filler a second time in order to completely fill the pores.
If you are intending to stain rather than paint, you can match the wood filler to the wood grain and make it stainable. Imagine if you were to submerse a piece of wood into sealer, letting it absorb all it could at the end grain or spongy areas, then remove it and wipe off the entire surface. You can do it with 2k urethane, which will give you any degree of grain filling you want. Bigger imperfections such as holes will need to be filled with wood filler which may mean that a solid colour is your only option.
You coat the surface heavily, using a fairly stiff brush to work the filler into the grain, and remove excess filler with a rubber squeegee. A palm sander will save you hours on a project like removing wood grain texture. Whatever you decide to do, the grain will add some kind of color to it, even multiple coats of water white material. The wood dust mixes with the oil and creates a paste, so as you sand back and forth, the paste will compact into the pores. Latex enamels and most any paint will not adhere very well to varnish or other types of clear coat.
If you do require a grain filler to be applied first mix up a batch in a separate container. To fill the grain, I find it’s easier to work with the bends and curves of a gun stock by wet sanding the oil rather than applying a grain filler. Again, a coat of a good barrier primer would probably fill the bulk of the grain. Use Zinsser SealCoat (photo above) or dewaxed shellac as a clear primer before applying oil-based finishes to those woods. Seen from a distance, it merely looks like stained wood, but as you get closer, the contrast gives the wood a depth and richness that plain staining rarely affords. I like to finish this off by hand rubbing the wood with steel wool and pumice stone.
Actually, before I knew there was even a product for filling grain, I just sprayed about 30 coats of finish to fill in the mahogany grain (I had lots of time on my hands for that project). Oil-based wood fillers have been around for a long time, and are well-developed. For the cabinet bases, he used Kilz primer and did that by hand with a brush and a small foam roller.
The right sealer will lock in contaminating oils and waxes, reduce the number of coats needed by preventing excessive absorption, improve adhesion, and reduce grain raising, especially under waterbased coatings. While you are doing this, you will notice thequasi-liquid filler is packing into the pores and also being absorbed by theburlap rag leaving a fairly clean surface on the wood. Compatibility: Rustins Wood Dyes may be used to thin the filler instead of white spirit, so that staining and filling can be carried out in one operation. Begin working the filler into the pores, pressing it into the grain with the Bondo spreader.
Oil-based paint is a lot harder to get used to working with (application, drying time, and clean-up)…but I’m convinced it’s the right” paint to use on woodwork to give the hardened application that won’t chip w/use. Sand before grain filler to get everything flat, then afterwards to remove any filler remaining on the surface. This finish gives walnut a dark yet warm color, and if you choose to apply it by wet-sanding, this too can fill the grain as above. This is when you want to add color to the grain and also fill up the grain to be level with the top of the wood. I don’t particularly like the look of brown solid stuff filling the wood grain.
Waterborne wood grain fillers are the new kids on the block, but are rapidly gaining favor because of the easy soap and water clean-up and greatly shortened drying time it offers. If you have not shopped cabinets lately, $375 is approximately how much you would pay for 2 new base cabinets. There will be some sanding and you can’t skip it. Make the transitions between wood and filler smooth and seamless.
I find it best to wait an hour or so, when the filler is hard in the pores but still fairly soft on the surface to scrape. Paste filler is not clear so if you are filling a dark wood don’t use the natural and expect it to blend in, it will not work. After one coat, end grain and spongy areas may still be hungry” and insufficiently sealed, while denser flat grain areas are starting to build up too much coating.