Some 40+ years ago when refinishing an old oak desk, I used product called paste wood filler. You would "paint" it onto an open-grain wood like oak with a brush, let it sit awhile, then wipe it off. It filled the grain so that paint or varnish wouldn't soak into the grain. The result was a smooth finish.
So today I stopped at the Shwerwin Willams store and got the reaction I have come to expect when shopping for a familiar product: blank, uncomprehending stares. The alleged hardware store across the street was an equal waste of time.
So when I got home I followed the routine I have come to expect even before I foolishly waste my time in stores: the Google search. It seems that the term wood filler is now applied to products like Plastic Wood™, which is for filling holes. Not the same thing at all. These days the product I want is called wood grain filler. But that brings us to the bottom line of this lamentation. The stuff I found costs $22 a pint!!! Really? I wonder if anybody here is aware of a source for wood grain filler at a more reasonable cost.
Make your own. Takes a little experimenting, but working a bit of whiting into a quick-drying varnish and a bit of turps to a paste consistency should give good results. That's all the wood grain filler is anyhow - inert "stuff" in a binding vehicle. Whiting (calcium carbonate) is transparent in a varnish.
Sawdust and glue. Preferably sawdust from the same wood you are filling. If done correctly you won't be able to see it when its cured.
Ebay, $16.00 with free shipping for 8 oz.
Uh, Mark - that's $32 a pint - not exactly "more reasonable".
Since one pint contains 16 ounces, that would make the ebay price $32.00 per pint, even more expensive than the price that Steve found.
Rockler has a lot good stuff. http://www.rockler.com/adhesives/wood-filler-and-grain-filler
Used to be something called sanding sealer. I'm thinking it was for the purpose you mention. Never used it and haven't seen any in years, but I wasn't looking either. I'd be surprised if they don't still sell it. And if be surprised if it cost that much, but I do get surprised sometimes,
Recently had a custom color mixed at Sherwin Williams. $28 a pint. Quite a surprise. Was a bit less 14 years ago when I first did the garage doors but it lasted outside that long & still looked OK.
One quart: $21.99
https://www.woodcraft.com/products/behlen-water-based-grain-filler-neutral-quart ?gclid=Cj0KCQiAyZLSBRDpARIsAH66VQL32NqFGH4fAl3fh1aO5bhYFJ6UbZ3alknWKEwM3OzWYzBLx GVIHzwaAiTJEALw_wcB
or One Quart: $11.65
https://www.hardwareworld.com/pec0rr1/Interior-Woodgrain-Filler-Natural-Quart?gc lid=Cj0KCQiAyZLSBRDpARIsAH66VQK1_peSQ7dnMkKZb1Q0NqdjhMj1KEv3LB8Lc-RSK8zCsX2S4Uxu xg8aAvNwEALw_wcB
or 12oz for $12.99
http://www.truevalue.com//catalog/product.jsp?productId=14298&parentCategoryId=1 3&categoryId=198&subCategoryId=1734&type=product&cid=gooshop&source=google_pla&9 gtype=%7Bifsearch:search%7D%7Bifcontent:content%7D&9gkw=%7Bkeyword%7D&9gad=%7Bcr eative%7D.1&9gpla=%7Bplacement%7D&ctcampaign=4680&ctkwd=%7Bproduct_id%7D&ctmatch =&ctcreative=%7BCreative%7D&ctplacement=602177-43411605579
tint to your desired color and you should be good to go
Hello Norman, My father worked for Sherwin Williams for 40 years and I worked for him at the the store. Yes, I remember paste wood filler very well. Not sure if they make it anymore however will check around. Dad used sanding sealer a lot to seal wood, two to three coats sanded between. It would seal and present a very smooth finish prior to the finish coat. To close cracks and imperfections he would combine linseed oil with "pure gum turpentine". You have to get "Pure Gum Turpentine" not the Turpentine that they sell today at most stores. Dad could color match anything by eye, didn't need a computer to do it for him. Yes, uncomprehending stares are plentiful these days, mostly because we have not taught or passed down the various trades! I am 70 years old and I am still learning from you all on the forum and others around me. Bottom line, try "Sanding Sealer" comes in Lacquer (when you can find some), dries fast and sands smooth! Also, thank you for helping me prior on the forum!! John
Sorry, I meant to address the post to Steve. The brain cells are going fast!! John
Per Quart, I'm coming up with $23 for the Behlan and $30 for the Mohawk. I use the Mohawk product and get a nice smooth oak finish.
I bought mine about 10 years ago, have refinished several phonographs (both table top and floor models), and still have about a 1/2 a can left. (What I scrape off goes back in the can.)
Good luck with with your quest, Steve!
A trick that I learned in my balsa model airplane building days, was to simply add baby powder to clear varnish. It makes a great sanding sealer and it smells nice when you sand it out.
Steve,By your post I feel that you are looking for wood grain filler not wood filler. Mohawk,Behlan and Hood has it. (www.mohawk-finishing.com )
Mohawk also sells Behlan. Hood also sells it.
(www.hoodfinishing.com ) Try to get the oil based grain filler. They are pushing water based fillers. I do not like them. Good luck. Pete
Looking again at my links, disregard the last one...not what you want. The first two are what you want, though you already probably figured that out. I got a little ahead of myself
I get the same results but it takes an eternity. I sand down between each coat or clear until I get a smooth surface then use finer and finer paper then 0000 steel wool then polish. It turns out as clear and smooth as glass but it takes forever.
Steve, what exactly are you trying to do?
Are you finishing a piece of furniture or some part on a Model T?
The final finish you intend using will determine what products you need to use.
The wood grain filer is part of the French Polishing process, if the timber has open grain (which has small hollows from the wood cells open on the surface the wood grain filler is meant to fill them so the surface is then smooth.
If you are altering the wood color the timber once sanded as smooth as possible is then stained to change the color to make it appear to be a different timber such as cedar or oak.
Depending on what the original timber is will determine what steps are needed, if the timber is dark and you need the finish to be a lighter color you first bleach the color to lighten the color, then you can stain it to another color and then use a matching wood grain filler for your desired result.
At this point in French polishing you would begin adding shellac coats to build up the thickness over the smooth wood filled surface.
The shellac is then worked using a pad with solvent (metholated spirits for the shellac) and the process is repeated ( more coats, more working with the pad) until the gloss finish is obtained. French Polish (shellac) is OK for interior use but hopeless if exposed to sunlight.
So other clear finishes are used, the next one to be used was Nitro Cellulose lacquer but the stain and wood grain filler which is usually oil based will be attacked by the lacquer so a sanding sealer is used which will do exactly that "seal off" the previous materials used. It is then finely sanded before the lacquer is sprayed to produce the gloss surface.
The lacquer can be sanded smoother or worked with a pad as per the French polish or compounded and buffed.
Pete Ratledge ( Hi Pete) mentioned water filler (there is also stain) which the different types of finish don't attack as they do with the oil, I suspect the water stain is being promoted because they are getting complaints from people using the wrong materials over them and they are getting attacked. The water tends to raise the grain making it furry which can be a pest as the wood then has to be sanded again.
I should mention about using the pad to work the finish, this eliminates the sanding step, which removes the coating, you run the risk of sanding through the surface if you sand. The pad method softens the coating and the material is pushed into any low spots, so much so wood grain filler can be eliminated as the shellac or lacquer can be put into the grain indents.
If the timber is close grained which your wheel spokes should be you can get far superior results by staining to a suitable color and then sealing with a 2 part sealer ( such as used on boats) and then 2 part clears such as used on vehicles, they are high solids ( little solvent lots actual material) and as they dry hard by chemical reaction they will allow you to build up any imperfections with the help of sanding between coats.
Whatever system you choose check that what you apply underneath the final finish is the correct type for that clear coating.
Yes, I know this as part of the French Polish technique too. I used rottenstone, mineral oil and shellac. An excellent technique particularly for high grade furniture. But for years pre made "paste fillers" (not wood filler or made from wood products) were also available. They must still be a available out there Steve. Find someone who makes high quality classic reproductions of 18th - 19th century furniture.
These fillers were always used when finishing oak, mahogany, walnut and other open grained woods. But the average wood worker knows nothing about this stuff. It's why amateur refinishing of oak furniture never looks like how antique furniture looked when it was new.
No clear coat here. I'm painting spokes. They will be black. With filler I hope they will be black and smooth.
Pity you didn't tell us that in the first place. You don't need that type of filler if you are using color coats only for clear ones.
Use a primer/filler for the type of black paint you are going to use.
Brush the first coat with it over thinned or use a wood sealer you can then add coats of the primer. (their job is to provide a smooth base for the color). till you can gain a smooth finish.
Don't put on the black till you have the surface smooth. The old Hot Rod method of using massive coats of color to get a smooth finish is wrong. Not only do thick color coats tend to be more likely to crack they also cost more that the primers which are designed to not only dry faster but fill better.
Use Bondo sand smooth.
Steve, If you're painting them a color, you can use an automotive surfacer. I like the 2 part ones, used to use Ditzler K-200; I don't know if that's a current product though. I called it "spray filler" as it would hid all sorts of "sins."
Way back when I taught Finishes & Coatings one semester at Chico State I had the students do a clear finish, both filled and unfilled so they could understand how, and also appreciate what a smooth finish on oak or similar open-grained wood takes to do right.
Just a parting thought, when painting items black or dark colors, it would be well to avoid light colored sealers and primers. (?? White ?!?) Inevitably there will be a scratch, chip, or other failure sooner or later.
Yes, the spray automotive filler is great for building up a nice even surface. Spray on and in about thirty minutes you can go over it with wet sandpaper. Just keep going until you have no more texture.