I have built a 45" x 84" dining table out of random length mesquite.
Mesquite has cracks, crevices, knotholes, pits, splits and just about every
other cosmetic flaw. I need to fill them with something. I tried two-part
epoxy but it just ran right through the cracks in the wood. I think I need
some sort of putty that I can tint. I've heard of FAMOWOOD--both
solvent-based and water-based. Does anyone know if FAMOWOOD can be tinted
to match Mesquite, will fill the holes, sand smooth, and then look OK after
I apply the Watco and the poly to the entire table?
Your help is desperately needed!
Lake Travis, TX
So why not put masking tape on the back of the table to stop the epoxy
from flowing through?
Norm made a piece of furniture using mesquite. He filled the holes
with epoxy made black with this powder you can add.
famowood is nowhere as dense as mesquite. you can do a test and see if
it looks ok to you, but I doubt it will.
consider either masking tape on the back of the piece to hold the
epoxy or stuffing a strip of something down into the crack to form a
My cousin has a business in south Texas that builds almost nothing but
mesquite furniture. He uses duct tape to tape off areas that require
filling that might otherwise run out. He then mixes a two-part epoxy (he
uses System Three). He tints it black with black acrylic paint.
and then pouring in the epoxy/acrylic mixture.
a) Since the cracks and crevices run with the grain, sometimes for as much
as a foot or more, they never seem to fill up.
b) The mess caused by doing it is unbelievable. Once the crack is full, it
spills over onto the surface.
c) The filler will not absorb into the crack instantly. Instead, it just
sits there and eventually oozes into the crack. Then, you have to go back
and pour in some more. When the crack is full (and I have no way of knowing
when that is) I pour on some more and it runs all over the surrounding
d) Doing it this way is the messiest thing I believe I have ever done. It
gets all over the tabletop, the work surface, me, and anything I touch
during (and after) the process.
There has GOT to be a thicker, less messy, alternative. That's why I was
thinking that FAMOWOOD, darkened with the acrylic, could be used like
spackle. Has anyone tried it?
Try black tinted autobody filler-- it comes either with red or black
hardener - it's been a long time, but a student of a friend made a
checkerboard of cedar squares set into a frame. He just troweled the
stuff in, let harden & sanded it off. If the only stuff you can find
is the red tinted hardener, mix in some black polyester coloring
powder. I can't remember where I got mine, but anyone who sells
polyester casting resin (the clear kind) will most likely sell the
tinting colors that are campatable.
I use famowood. it's a good product, but not for filling big voids.
you might want to try a few things:
wash coat before filling, either with sanding sealer or shellac.
use a glue injector syringe.
polyester resin may work better for you than epoxy.
if masking tape isn't getting all of the cracks, go to laminating
I don't think you want to use any of the fillers available to
consumers. I think they're too soft. And I have strong doubts about
making that stuff match the mesquite. Maybe I'm wrong on that.
The bottom line is that I've done exactly as you're trying to do.
Only I began filling the cracks and voids before any machining began.
It took me a long while to complete what became a very messy process.
Yes, it oozed into the cracks. Sometimes it poured, but that was for
the very large voids. In most of them, there was no need to bother
with coloring the epoxy, The epoxy fill looks black there 'cause
there's no light source. In the big one(s), a filler is needed to
make sure it has a black appearance.
I had to go back several times to many of the voids and cracks to
assure that they were filled. Some areas of wood were not actually
cracked or had a hole, sometimes the wood was sort of punky, that is,
it absorbed epoxy even though it looked "solid".
The filling was a time consuming pain is the a**. But in the end,
it's all worth it.
After all that filling was done, then the machining began. Jointer,
planer, yadda yadda - you know the drill.
BTW, with reasonable care and a good supply of tape and wax paper,
there's no reason that you'll get the epoxy on yourself.
Also, for what it's worth, I used West System for my epoxy. I like
their pump system of measurement.
The boards I filled ended up in my kitchen table. It's about 3 feet
wide and 5 feet long. The apron and legs are hard maple.
I fill voids with a mixture of polyurethane glue and fine sawdust.
I cover both sides with Mylar sheet and clamp between a pair of
boards. As the glue expands it fills any voids I forgot. Since
the glue is constrained from foaming very much the patch is very
solid. The patch usually comes out a little darker than the wood.
It sands and finishes well.
Can't help you on Famowood, but I've used a product called Apoxie
Sculpt to fill voids in mesquite. It's a moldable two-part putty-like
substance that works very nicely. It can be scraped, and it takes a
You can read more about it here:
System Three makes various fillers and tints for their epoxies. They
have wood dough, beads, etc.
Here in Arizona (Tucson anyway) most users of mesquite seem to just
fill defects with black epoxy and feature them rather than trying to
hide them with other tints.
I build a lot of furniture almost exclusively from mesquite. The best way
to fill cracks is to use System 3 Epoxy (or equivelant). I buy it by the
gallon and use the pumps available for the bottles. Here in Llano, wich is
in Central Texas, I have found that the medium hardener seems to work the
best for me in the summer. Fast hardener would be a better choice in the
winter if your shop is unheated.
I sand the bottom face of the board smooth and then use clear packing
tape to seal the cracks. (Be sure they are sealed well!) After they are all
sealed I turn to board over and space it up off of my table with some 1/4"
square sticks, just in case I get a leak in my tape job my work piece won't
stick to the work table. Mix the epoxy and pour it into the cracks. It has
the consistency of Maple syrup & will run & run into the cracks.
I use a propane torch to pop the air bubbles that form in the epoxy as
the cracks fill. (Just wave the flame over the bubbles. DO NOT
hold it on the same spot anywhere!) Generally it takes about an hour for me
to get all but the largest cracks completely filled. I always pour a little
extra in order to try to make sure that there will be enough to run into
the crack if any more air is displaced from the crack after I have left it
to sit. This will cure at a level above the surface of the board.
I generally do this at the very end of the day, so it can sit overnight
and cure. The next day I sand the epoxy flush with 80 grit paper then work
up throught the grits to 150, 220, & sometimes 320 and 400. After that I
use a few coats of a mixture of BLO/Tung Oil/Turpentine for initial finish.
Then I shoot it with clear gloss lacquer with a Satin overcoat. A good
waterproof finish for a table is Arm-R-Seal by General Finishes again gloss
for the first coats then satin for the over coat (Help mantina clarity of
wood). It is an oil poly mix and I sometimes use it after the BLO/LO/Turps
coats are done.
The only time I use colorant is when I am filling large cracks or holes.
System Three makes this for their epoxy on a number of different colors.
I mix my epoxy in 2 oz. dixie cups and stir with popcicle sticks and then
just thow them away when done. The little plastic mixing cups and sticks
cost too much.
Good luck with your table.
(Tricks of the boat builder)
Couple of things.
1) Since you are dealing with mesquite, assume you want black epoxy.
Black epoxy pigment is available at reasonable cost, probably less than
$20/qt which is enough to do a 500 lb drum of resin.
My guess is you don't need that much.<G>
2) You can improve the "hang time" of epoxy by mixing in a little fumed
silica (Cab-O-Sil and Aer-O-Sil are a couple of brands) with the resin
and hardener to thicken before curing.
If you have cracks completely thru the mesquite, then tape the back side
of the crack shut using some clear packing tape. Epoxy won't stick to it
so it can be removed after the epoxy cures.
If necessary, tape the edges shut, then fill cracks.
3) Partially fill cracks and let cure, then come back and fill proud and
You can then sand flush.
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