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Love at First Wipe - Aqua Coat Grain Filler

charles finishers finishes finishing neil the finishing store woodworkers

After 40 some odd years of finishing, it takes a lot to impress me. Aqua-Coat Grain Filler managed to do just that.

I was amazed reading Bill Boxer’s article last month on the pianos and a gloss black finish. I had to chuckle and thought, “Yep, been there, done that” and black is very unforgiving unless its perfect, it shows everything. It seems no matter what one does, multi-layer finishes shrink back, never fails. Like Bill, I have rubbed the finish out to a mirror then two weeks later, the grain is back. Screaming and throwing things doesn’t help. Don’t ask me how I know, but it doesn’t.

Now, through the years I have used about every grain filler there is, with limited success. Solvent and oil based shrink back. Both tend to seal the wood but oil is the worst.

I have used plaster of paris, thinned wood filler you name it. I was anxious to try this water based Aqua-Coat. You can spray it, wipe it, brush it, whatever you want. For my test, I simply applied it with a foam brush, one good coat on some rough planed red oak and an unsanded piece of African mahogany with ribbon grain. Now, I don’t know about you, but both of these woods are tough to get a glass smooth surface. Red Oak has deep grains and the African mahogany is porous and if you have ever sprayed it, it likes to bead up around the pores almost like it’s “fish-eyes” and doing the multiple coat finish and sand back takes a lot of work and a lot of material.

On mahogany, I like to wipe or brush the filler on because I can push the filler into the pores. So, as I said, I simply applied one coat to the oak and mahogany, let it dry about an hour, then sanded it with some 180 grit and on the mahogany, I shot one coat of the water base finish. WOW, I had a slick surface, could not believe it. On the red oak I wiped a stain, only did part of the board, so you see how it would stain. In the photo you can see no difference. Now I don’t know about you, but this is a cure to an age-old problem.

In the photos of the mahogany, you are seeing the second coat of finish, right off the gun.  I got as much “glare” as I could, note no ‘pore pitting’. The texture is simply the finish that has not flowed out it is filled. From the initial coat and sand - this is after a week -there is no shrinkage! I mean NONE.

While I didn’t take pictures, I used some water base stain and dye to ‘tint’ the filler to the color I wanted in the event I want to use a darker filler for filling to accent grain.

The other thing I noticed is unlike thinned fillers and other water base products, that when wiped with a ‘like’ product, like a water base dye over a water base filler, it pulls some of the filler off, didn’t have that issue. Either the product has a slight light cream color but dries clear.

This product is to finishing what the Apollo Line of spray equipment is to water base finishes. Simply put, it cures the issues.

Filled wood accepts stain better: right side is filled, left is not
Fully filled grain on red oak
Filled grain on African mahogany
1st coat of finish on African mahogany-grain is full
Aqua Coat Grain Filler
2nd coat of finish on mahogany


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