Excuse me for interupting the current spate of useless spam with an actual
wwing query. I plan on installing oak casings and would like to have the
finish as smooth as is possible. I've seen oak with a satin sheen and
absolutely flat, no ridges or bumps. I seem to recall something about a
sanding sealer.... Do I remember correctly? Can anyone help with this???
Many thanks if you have the time to help out. Mark
Here's how I do it:
1) Rough sand with an ROS and 220 grit.
2) Wipe the whole piece down with a damp (not) wet cloth. This
pops the grain.
3) Sand again with ROS and 330 grit.
4) Sand by hand with increasingly fine grit paper soaked in the stain/oil
you intend to finish the piece with.
5) Seal with shellac/water based poly/acrylic crap of your choice.
The more iterations of 4) you do, the "shinier" it gets.
Tim Daneliuk email@example.com
Hello, Mark. It really depends on how smooth you are thinking you
need it to be. You can get oak "french polish" smooth, but it looks
I have used pore fillers with good results, but you need to understand
what you are doing with them.
This is a great discussion on pore fillers, both oil and water based:
If you want to build with your finish, you will be applying, sanding,
applying, sanding, etc. to get oak perfectly smooth. To me, this is
one of the best discussions on pore filling, finish compatibility, and
long term success expectation. But note that it is not necessarily to
get the wood perfectly smooth:
You can take every response on that topic right to the bank. Too much
finish will crack over time as the coats shrink back unless you use a
post cat finish of some type. Not enough finish, and you cannot sand
back to the desired texture.
Not all finishes are made to be sanded back. Not all finishes are
compatible. Example - I have heard (but not personally experienced)
that some brand of water based filler was not compatible with the
solvent based top coat. Another would be layered finishes that don't
burn into each other like varnish or poly. It is easy to get witness
lines to let folks know where you sanded through the coats.
Staining a pore filled project is not for the weak, either. I tried
to stain after I applied the pore filler, and the color was blotchy.
I tried staining before applying the filler, and when sanded the color
was uneven. Thankfully, my pore filler dried out and I threw it away.
But now they make colored pore fillers, and even clear as well. So if
you want a natural color or slightly amber color, you are well in luck
with your oak. Apply, sand, finish, all in one day if you go with a
Without knowing what your level of expertise is, the type of finish
you will be using, how it will be applied, how much time you want to
put into the finishing process, etc., it would be hard to give
anything more than suggestions. I would sure print out that WoodWeb
Well, if you want Oak to be "smooth" like you might see on a piano,
then you need to learn about grain filling. It is esentially clear
silica powder or a colored powder that is held in a varnish\oil like
goop that you wipe on and off using a careful technique to fill the
grain and then let it dry. You do this one or more times depending on
how many tries it takes to completly fill the grain. Then you apply a
clear top coat of some sort and polish it out to the sheen you desire.
I am being kind of vague because those are the basics but you'll need
to read up a bit on the specifics.
Sanding sealer is actually just a very thin coat of clear finish that
is a thinned version of the final coating material or a formula that
dires to a little softer finish than a final hard finsih coat would be
so you get something laid down to stop the next coats from soaking in
and it is easy to scuff sand a bit to kill any grain raised fuzz, etc.
You could lay down enough lacquer, poly or shellac to eventually
flatten oak. I have done it, but it isn't proper and will likely crack
or otherwise be problematic over time.
Finally, on Oak you need to decide if you want to sort of hide the
grain cathedrals or excentuate them (clear or dark filler). Google
"Grain filling oak" or look here for starters
Some/most of the Sanding Sealer you encounter (at least what I encounter
where I live) isn't much more than lacquer with talcum powder in it.
The lacquer dries fast, the talcum powder provides nearly invisible
build and makes sanding easier....
For a lot of projects, you need not sand beyond 150 or 180 grit before
you put on the sealer. Sand with 220 after sealer, until you are nearly
back to wood. Seal again, sand again, and repeat until you get the
"flatness without ridges and bumps" level you desire.
Move to final finish coats, with minor scuff sanding between (depending
on the type of finish you use) and you should get what you want.
I'd suggest trying the process on a relarively small area, particularly
noting the number of coats and time involved, and experiment with a
grain filler if you really want a smooth finish before you commit to a
full scale project. You may find out that you really want to use cherry
instead of oak, because the amount of finishing time is a quarter of
that of oak, just because the cherry grain isn't nearly as open and
bumpy as oak.... (smile)
Of course, there may be alternative finishes that can fill the pores
quicker (lacquer is a finish where the latest coat melts into the
previous one, which can take more coats to fill grain pores than other
finishes that don't melt into the previous coat... Epoxy based finishes
come to mind, but they require extensive sanding to provide a "tooth"
for the next coat to adhere. One benefit of lacquers is that typically,
you can spray/brush on one coat, hit it with steel wool once dry and
recoat without sanding and get a nice, level finish in the end. Yes, it
does take a lot of coats to fill large open grain like Oak, but it does
work.) As I live in "the sticks" relative to availability of the latest
and best finishes, I can't say I've used many of the recent, higher tech
type finishes, but most of what I do works just fine with sprayed
lacquer. (I know, the can says not to spray it, but that's a
requirement to get by the VOC regulations, not because it won't work.)
Another benefit of lacquer is that if you really screw up, you can
always mop it almost all of it off with a rag soaked in lacquer thinner.
Of course, your mileage may vary, demonstration was on a closed course
with a professional driver, and you should never do any of this at home.
Do you mean with a filled grain, like a piano finished table top? Or,
do you mean a perfect finish, free of dust nibs and brush marks, but
allowing the open pores to be visible?
In either case, sanding sealer can help, as it's a fast drying finish
that sands easily, more easily than raw wood. Sanding sealer is not
meant to fill heavy grain with lots of coats, as it isn't durable in
thick layers. Most sanding sealers are meant as single or maybe two
coat products. Shellac based sanding sealer (Zinnser Seal Coat) can
be built rather deeply, but you have to work carefully (spray?), as
each application will dissolve the coat underneath.
If you want a smooth, bowling alley finish, you either need to fill
the grain with "grain filler" (a commercial product, or substitute
such as drywall compound) or build many layers of a high resin content
Varnishes that can build thickly include Pratt & Lambert 38, McCloskey
Gym Seal, Waterlox, or many of the high quality floor finishes. To
use these products, you'd finish the wood, then screen it back to bare
wood in the high spots, repeating until you had a smooth finish.
Varnishes are easy to apply, but dry slowly and attract dust as they
dry. You have to wait long enough before sanding as to not allow the
finish to "pill". This wait time will be trial and error, based on
your local weather conditions. Polyurethane will require a longer
I prefer filling grain with a commercial product like Behlen's grain
filler or drywall compound. Drywall compound turns and stays clear
when soaked with finish. I then spray a sanding sealer and a water or
solvent based lacquer over the smooth surface.
All that said, I prefer an open grain on oak when used as trim. My
own home has red oak, doors, trim and built-ins, and the open pores
are beautiful when oiled and sprayed with a "dull" lacquer finish.
Dull lacquer is close to your typical satin varnish, there is some
On the oaks, I usually leave grain filling for glossy finishes and
tabletops. On _red_ oak (vs. white) table tops, I'll still leave just
a tick of openness unless the goal is a piano gloss. The duller
sheens combined with a filled grain and heavy varnishes just look dead
to me, and red oak looks wrapped in worn plastic.
I suggest a few decent sized samples with and without completely
filled grain, in your choice of sheen, before you make a final
You could use Watco Danish Oil. Apply with a rag and use wet/dry
sandpaper to sand the surface. The sawdust/oil slurry fills the pores
perfectly. The more applications, the smoother the finish. It's easy
to touch up and easy to apply.
I lucked upon a closeout at a going-out-of-business home center around
here some years back, and picked up numerous gallons of Watco at 5
bucks a pop. Still working my way through the stuff. Never tried
Deft, but I will. Thanks.
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