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StevenAndrews's picture
Hi - I am an amateur newbie who has been lurking on this forum and have gained huge knowledge from the more experienced members. I have completed 2 or 3 projects and am building a coffee table at the moment and urgently need help with a tung oil - I love the look of tung oil despite the drawbacks and want to finish the coffee table with pure tung oil.
I levelled the table top with a block plane and a scraper and have some tear-out in the mahogany - I refuse to use a belt sander due to the possible risk of gouging the wood. I have now learnt the following from this experience and plse, plse comments regarding this will be unhelpfull - I have learnt my lesson the hard way:
- make damn sure when gluing up the table top that all the boards are level;
- do not use a block plane to level - it is a huge amount of work;
- be very careful when planing magogany because tear-out occurs very easily due to the cross grain.

My question is as follows: What wood filler can I use to fill/repair the tear-out and which will not be blotchy under the tung oil finish - I can't use pva glue/sanding dust finish as pva doesn't absorb the oil and really stands out.
Will home made hide glue/sanding dust filler work?
Will a filler made from tung oil/sanding dust work?
If the above will not work what else can I try? I have googled extensively but cannot get a definitive/authorative answer.

I look forward to your opinions.

Westchester's picture

Tear Out (post #170967, reply #1 of 3)

Before repairing can you try using a steel scraper - pad sander - and finally hand sanding to see how much you can improve the surface.


Frankie's picture

Don't know how bad your (post #170967, reply #2 of 3)

Don't know how bad your tearout is but if you really want a smooth tabletop, you may want to consider Pore-O-Pac by Behlen.

It will take the finish uniformly as well as filling in the grain.

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roc's picture

My opinion = (post #170967, reply #3 of 3)

 Oh . . . .no . . . no . . . no . . .

filler ?

. . . .no . . . no . . . no . . .

go here and buy this

and this

or similar but don't buy cheep planes.

Then take some time and learn how to use them on some scrap of the exact same wood as your table.

Once you can achieve a tear out free surface on your scrap


practice putting finish on it until the final result makes a big silly smile on your face.


and only then

return to your fine table.

File the pipe dream of filler under fairies, magic carpets and Santa.  I like thinking about all of those things but I don't take them too seriously.

Come to think about it filler just belongs in the dust bin not in the file with the fun and interesting fantasies.


no you are thinking car finishes and painting over the filler.  Or filling resessed finish nail holes AND PAINTING OVER THE FILLER.  Even that only works if you really know what you are doing.  Other wise the filler shrinks and you still have an indentation.

It is easily posible to plane the mahogany tear out free and never even pick up your scraper.

Sharpening is key but that is another thread so let us know if you have any problems there.


I hate it when people say don't but they don't say why so I figurd I would elaborate on your questions :

 > be very careful when planing magogany because tear-out occurs very easily due to the cross grain.<

The correct term and don't be embarased  . . . it's cool . . . you are learning . . . is "reversing grain".  Cross grain is , used when for instance , you plane across the grain which you should probably do to get the surface down to the level of the bottom of the tear out using the fore plane.  Then plane with the grain using the fore plane.  Then finally use the finish plane to take the surface to the final surface smoothness before putting finish on it.

All those filler options you mentioned will be blotchy under the tung oil finish

the finish can't penetrate any of the fillers the same way that they will the wood so there will be some difference.

>Will home made hide glue/sanding dust filler work?<

 That would probably be the closest and sorta would work but here is another reason it will show up as a blotch ; there will be no grain so the grain in the wood ends at the filler , then there is random saw dust in porous glue ness, then the grain continues on.

Can you see in your mind's eye how that would be ?  So then you start painting on the grain, I am not kidding , they call that foe finishing.  sorry about the wrong spelling.


>Will a filler made from tung oil/sanding dust work?<

No it will take months to dry and be a rubbery spot in the table and more than likely will have a frosty look to it besides the lack of grain I mentioned above.

>If the above will not work what else can I try? <

Please consider the hand planes I suggested above.

>I have googled extensively but cannot get a definitive/authoritative answer.<

Yep and for the same reason you can't go down to the local zoo and look at a Sasquatch.


I am not makeing fun, too much, I just want to convey the realities of what you seek.


Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. Abraham Lincoln ( 54° shaves )