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Expert's Corner — grain

TIP: Dealing with Grain Raising

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TIP: Dealing with Grain Raising

Whenever water or any stain or finish that contains water comes in contact with wood, it causes the wood fibers to swell, which is called “grain raising” or “raised grain.” After the water has dried the wood feels rough to the touch, and thinly applied finishes also feel rough. Raised grain occurs no matter how fine you sand the wood before wetting it. Because you can’t prevent raised grain if you use a water-based product, you need to deal with it so the final finish comes out smooth. There are two methods: The first is to raise the grain and...

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TIP: How to Repair Dents and Gouges

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TIP: How to Repair Dents and Gouges

Dents and gouges are both flaws in the wood. But they are not the same thing, so they should be repaired differently. Dents are compressed wood. The wood fibers are still intact, just pressed down or indented. Gouges are also indentations, but the wood fibers have been torn and usually some of the wood has been removed. Dents can usually be steamed level. Gouges have to be filled with wood putty or some other filling material. Sometimes the indentation is not clearly a dent or gouge, so you can try steaming before resorting to filling. To steam out a dent,...

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Fillers - When Smooth isn't Smooth Enough

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Fillers - When Smooth isn't Smooth Enough

So, you've just finished that stellar table top and you'd like to give it a 'smooth as glass' finish.  What's a woodworker to do? Why, 'Fill and Finish' of course. There are two kinds of 'fillers' - putty type fillers used to fill scratches, dents, and holes in wood, and grain (aka pore) fillers that serve to level out the surface of open grained woods. It's the latter filler that concerns us here. Woods such as oak, ash, elm, mahogany, chestnut, walnut, wenge, and teak are characterized as having 'open grain' because the wood pores are large. In contrast, 'closed...

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TIP: Dye Migration

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TIP: Dye Migration

The general consensus on figured woods is pretty much saturation, or using a trace coat to further intensify the grain. However sometimes a dye can migrate, meaning it just goes way too dark and can create a blotchy mess. Broad curl woods like Curly Cherry, Flame Birch, etc. can also absorb any colorant unevenly. We've looked at many ways to help control this. I want to emphasize how important it is that you do a test on a scrap before you dive in. With that said one of my favorite tricks is to use water to help control the absorption....

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Applying Finish With or Across the Grain

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It’s common to be instructed to apply a finish in the direction of the grain, called “with the grain.” Doing this is usually best when brushing a finish, but it’s rarely necessary when wiping or spraying a finish. Brushing with the grain is best because the grain will help disguise the brush marks, the ridges and troughs caused by the movement of the bristles along or across the surface. If you brush across the grain, the brush marks will stand out in contrast to the grain of the wood. There are exceptions, however. These include solid or veneer with their...

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