After weeks of collecting new power toys, er, tools, and buying wood,
I'm up to my elbows in red oak shavings. Starting to think about
finishing, and will try to match my coffee table to the other pieces
we purchased a few years ago. Looks like a Watco kind of finish will
do it, though the purchased pieces do have a lacquer coating. Since
these pieces are from Lazy Boy, I'm betting they are NOT fumed . . .
Question: How important is the pore filler? I use it on my rosewood
guitars, but I think the "mission style" might look nice and woody if
the pores were left open. Has anyone made an un-filled table top?
Did you like it? If I filled the top only, and left the sides, etc
alone, would that look strikingly "unbalanced."
I always use pore filler on red oak prior to applying stain. If you are not
going to stain the oak, the pore filler is optional in my thinking.
Stain can suck up into the pores of red oak and bleed out causing freckling.
I personally do not like a surface finish on an open pored wood but, then
again, I don't like Latte either and prefer real coffee..
However, if you are contemplating a Watco oil finish it is a moot point You
don't fill the pores when using an oil finish. It kind of defeats the
purpose of using an oil, which is getting a warm soft luster and maintaining
the feel of the natural wood. Open pores and all.
Not important. Your surface will not be as smooth but it is not necessary.
As mentioned by Lowell, some stains may wick back out of the pores if you
use stain. I have never had that problem with the thicker stains and or gel
There are many advocates for both filling and not filling and one of our
more contemporary finishing artists, Jeff Jewitt has a mission finish
article on his Homestead Finishing Products website. If you were to use
Quarter Sawn White oak on your mission projects as the originals are made
from, the grain is tight enough that you would usually not want to use any
filler. I have never used it and have been pleased with the various stains
top coats I have used on my mission projects.
Dennis Slabaugh, Hobbyist Woodworker
I'd try a board both ways and see what you like. A coat of pore filler
(I use pore-o-pac) doesn't leave the surface completely smooth, but it
helps quite a bit. I personally like to see the wood, but don't like the
uneven shine on the table top.
I've done a couple of pieces with pore filler on the top only and not
filling the sides looks fine. Unless it is a large area on the side, or
you are going for a super high gloss top, the difference isn't as
noticable on the vertical pieces, especially on the normally thing
vertical pieces on a mission piece.
disclaimer: I am refering to flatsawn red oak. quarter or riftsawn may
not need the pore filler for the look you are going for.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Scott) wrote in
In our family, red oak was the furniture style we gravitated to in the
70's. It survived raising 4 sons, with all of their friends, cousins,
sports teams and scouting units. We never wanted to worry that much about
the furniture to have 'fancy' stuff. Red oak was tough, and affordable.
Now I'm building new stuff, as I get the time and skills, and the
'experienced' furniture slowly migrates to the boys' homes. All in the
proper order of things.
One look that isn't necessarily authentic, but suits our family's tastes,
involves an oil finish to color and warm the red oak to the tone you want,
and then, after a suitable curing period, wiping on a number of coats of
dewaxed blond shellac. When the shellac is cured, I rub on a coat or two
of Briwax clear, or something similar, with white synthetic steel wool.
It doesn't have the durability of poly, or some of the tougher finishes,
but it still looks and feels like wood. More importantly, the methods suit
my limited, but growing skills. They also look good with red oak, which
isn't the easiest wood to finish well. And these methods don't shut down
my garage, er, 'studio' for long periods of time while curing.
I've done four or five small tables & desks this way, plus some
display/work furniture for my wife's quilting addiction, er, hobby.
Have fun with this table project. May many more follow.
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