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Aqua Coat Grain filler… What am I missing?

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Oct 25, 2019 - 6:20:05 PM
402 posts since 3/28/2006

I did my due diligence and read (or at least skimmed) all the archived discussions about grain filler and did not find an answer that fit my experience.

This is specifically about Aqua Coat which I am trying to use on rosewood. After filling I will use a clear satin nitrocellulose lacquer. No stain or tint.

My technique: This is on a banjo rim veneer, so I have to work around bracket shoe holes. I rub in the filler with my finger. Allow to dry. Rub in a second coat with my finger. Allow to dry. Sand with 320 grit sandpaper until I see rosewood dust.

FACT 1: If I leave any Aqua Coat on the surface, it looks cloudy under the lacquer
FACT 2: Sometimes I can take it off the surface and it looks great under the lacquer
FACT 3: When I try to sand down the areas where it looks cloudy, sometimes the pores become open again

When I start chasing the cloudy areas it becomes a really frustrating endeavor with very mixed and unsatisfactory results.

QUESTION 1: Has anyone had this experience?
QUESTION 2: Has anyone worked out a reliable system?

Those of you who have alternative products or materials to suggest… hold your fire!

Oct 26, 2019 - 5:06:43 AM

12340 posts since 6/29/2005

I have found the results with aquacoat on walnut and sapele to be underwhelming and felt I wasn't doing something properly.

Oct 26, 2019 - 6:15:34 AM

1898 posts since 2/7/2008

Similar experience here. It sort of seemed to me that Aquacoat is just thickened finish and like finish it takes lots of coats to fill pores.

I think rubbing in with your finger will not leave the filler in the pores level with the surface because your finger is too soft. I used a credit card for leveling. I think it’s virtually impossible to avoid some excess filler on the surface, so sanding is required. But, when you sand, you expose more pores, and require another coat and so on and so on. It also seems that the first several coats are either shrinking or being absorbed so the pores don’t get completely filled. I found this to be the case whether I sealed the wood first or not. The directions do say that it will take 2-3 coats to fill the pores, but I found it to be more like 3-4 (or more) to fully fill pores on really porous woods. 

As I said, it seemed like I was doing pore filling with finish, only without the benefit of being able to spray it. 

Edited by - Quickstep192 on 10/26/2019 06:19:35

Oct 26, 2019 - 6:41:18 AM

12340 posts since 6/29/2005

I tried using the polypropylene Bondo squeegees as recommended, even bought new pristine ones, but it just got 3-dimensionally streaky and sanded out of the pores in some places. 

I remember years back using fillers on oak that actually worked, but unfortunately can't remember what they were.

I'm starting to think of water based grain sealer as another "safe product that doesn't work", and the old stinky lacquer sanding sealer with talc as a filler is probably much better. Too bad the car body places like NAPA don't sell colorless Nitro-Stan  I wonder if there are MIY recipes for filler.

I'm with Mark and would like to hear some suggestions.

Oct 26, 2019 - 12:21:05 PM

1898 posts since 2/7/2008

I have used Behlen water based pore filler and it works great. Put it on and see how much you can get off before it starts to harden - then sand off the excess. Only thing is that it’s a solid color and only three colors are available, neutral, mahogany and brown.

I’ve also used epoxy. I put it on with a roller, sanded back to wood, then another coat of epoxy and more sanding. It ambers wood like oil and pops the grain and it’s clear. I’m But it’s messy and you have to wait a long time for it to cure before sanding.

I’ve heard good things from people who have used thinned Timber Mate, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Oct 26, 2019 - 1:02:55 PM

12340 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Quickstep192

I have used Behlen water based pore filler and it works great. Put it on and see how much you can get off before it starts to harden - then sand off the excess. Only thing is that it’s a solid color and only three colors are available, neutral, mahogany and brown.

I’ve also used epoxy. I put it on with a roller, sanded back to wood, then another coat of epoxy and more sanding. It ambers wood like oil and pops the grain and it’s clear. I’m But it’s messy and you have to wait a long time for it to cure before sanding.

I’ve heard good things from people who have used thinned Timber Mate, but I haven’t tried it yet.


I have done the epoxy myself, and it's wonderful for an even surface like a resonator—like you say, it goes into the wood, pops the grain and is about as thick as 30 coats of lacquer, then it cures and you can sand it down and put on another coat—doesn't stink, either.  I think it would be a mess on rims and necks, though, because it takes hours and hours to kick and would run down the sides while it was still liquidy.

 

I think I'm going to try the Behlen one, I like it colored better, anyway.  That's probably what Stewmac is repackaging and selling.

Oct 26, 2019 - 1:45:05 PM

1898 posts since 2/7/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

I'm starting to think of water based grain sealer as another "safe product that doesn't work"


I got a little chuckle out of this. You called it a grain “sealer”. I think it is actually a good grain sealer. What it’s not is a good grain filler. ??

Oct 26, 2019 - 1:56:27 PM

12340 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Quickstep192
quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

I'm starting to think of water based grain sealer as another "safe product that doesn't work"


I got a little chuckle out of this. You called it a grain “sealer”. I think it is actually a good grain sealer. What it’s not is a good grain filler. ??


Oops!  I meant "grain filler".

Oct 26, 2019 - 3:34:38 PM

7444 posts since 1/7/2005

As I do varnish finish, after sealing the wood with a coat of shellac, I simply fill the pores with multiple coats of varnish--right out of the can. On close grained woods like maple, it takes only a couple coats. On medium grained wood like walnut, it takes about 4 coats. On open grained wood like mahogany, it has taken up to 8 coats. It can be a lot of work, but I find that filling the pores with finish brings out details and effects in the wood grain that common wood fillers tend to hide. And I believe it grips the wood better than does finish over filler.
Of course, lacquer is a completely different animal, with which I have little experience. Varnish can be demanding and temperamental. But it has some characteristics that I like. Varnish over epoxy is another finish that I like a lot.

DD

Oct 26, 2019 - 4:26:05 PM

12340 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Dan Drabek

As I do varnish finish, after sealing the wood with a coat of shellac, I simply fill the pores with multiple coats of varnish--right out of the can. On close grained woods like maple, it takes only a couple coats. On medium grained wood like walnut, it takes about 4 coats. On open grained wood like mahogany, it has taken up to 8 coats. It can be a lot of work, but I find that filling the pores with finish brings out details and effects in the wood grain that common wood fillers tend to hide. And I believe it grips the wood better than does finish over filler.
Of course, lacquer is a completely different animal, with which I have little experience. Varnish can be demanding and temperamental. But it has some characteristics that I like. Varnish over epoxy is another finish that I like a lot.

DD


When I had the conversation with the Behlen chemist several years back, he told me that a lot of furniture makers use high solids polyurethane varnish as the undercoat to build thickness and fill everything very quickly.  Then they use lacquer over that.

I have never tried it because normal lacquer would attack normal oil based varnish and I don't have access to the industrial stuff.  They must have some kinds of urethane that are able to be safely top-coated with lacquer.

I HAVE used epoxy as an undercoat to build thickness and pop the grain, and then use water-borne urethane over that, which works fine and can be buffed.  The biggest problem with the epoxies is that they are absolutely irreversible if you screw up.

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 10/26/2019 16:26:47

Oct 26, 2019 - 6:04:50 PM

1898 posts since 2/7/2008

I’ve occasionally wondered if you could thicken lacquer with colloidal silica and use as pore filler.

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