Finishing walnut - Router Forums
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-15-2018, 07:08 PM Thread Starter
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Default Finishing walnut

I'm going to be building a replacement top for a coffee table that is over 40 Years. The top will be 39" x 39". I will submit another post about the build in the near future but this is a question about finishing. I've watch some YouTube videos on different way to finish walnut and there's one method that I like.

  1. Spray a light coat of water to raise the grain then sand when dry.
  2. Apply one or two coats of Behlen Solar-Lux Dye, American Walnut cut 50/50 with water to slow the drying time.
  3. One coat of SealCoat.
  4. One coat of Old Masters Gel Stain, Dark Walnut
  5. Poly topcoat

Walnut has an open grain and I want a smooth, stain finish. To achieve this I'll be using Crystalac grain filler since it dries clear. My question is, after which step do I use the grain filler?

As always, thanks for your help.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-16-2018, 07:25 AM
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my experience - though limited - is to use the Crystalac grain filler after the first sanding. But I'll stay tuned to this thread
in hope of learning from more of the experienced finishers opinions.

Making sawdust regularly, occasionally a project is completed.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-16-2018, 08:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry747 View Post
I'm going to be building a replacement top for a coffee table that is over 40 Years. The top will be 39" x 39". I will submit another post about the build in the near future but this is a question about finishing. I've watch some YouTube videos on different way to finish walnut and there's one method that I like.

  1. Spray a light coat of water to raise the grain then sand when dry.
  2. Apply one or two coats of Behlen Solar-Lux Dye, American Walnut cut 50/50 with water to slow the drying time.
  3. One coat of SealCoat.
  4. One coat of Old Masters Gel Stain, Dark Walnut
  5. Poly topcoat

Walnut has an open grain and I want a smooth, stain finish. To achieve this I'll be using Crystalac grain filler since it dries clear. My question is, after which step do I use the grain filler?

As always, thanks for your help.
This will help:
Clear Wood Grain Filler - The CrystaLac Company/Becker Labs

Herb
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-16-2018, 12:08 PM
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Hey Barry,

However you do this DO NOT INHALE THE DUST FROM WALNUT!

Otis Guillebeau from Auburn, Georgia

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Tweak everything!
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-17-2018, 12:07 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. Otis - You are right. I always wear a dust mask when I'm in the shop and I have one with carbon filters for finishing. I'm also sensitive to loud noise. I hate going to affairs with bands. Good or bad they only have one sound level - VERY LOUD, I take ear plugs. I have good, sound deadening ear muffs that I wear when running my table saw, thickness planer or router and I have several pairs of safety glasses. One with magnifying lenses like bifocals. The older I get the more I need it. I'm very safety conscious and sometimes do practice runs if I'm not sure, before I actually make a cut.

But I digress. back to the question at hand. I has a "Duh!" moment and decided to contact Crystalac directly and ask the question so I sent an email with all the details. To my surprise I received a response asking me to call them to discuss it. I called this morning and spoke with David, a very knowledgeable and personable guy. I learned more about Crystalac as a company. They've been around for almost 30 years starting off with a different name. In that time they have only made Eco friendly water based products. Besides the grain filler they have sanding sealers, top coating and more. After we discussed it he recommended their sanding sealer and their Extreme poly that dries very hard, is self leveling and has UV stabilizers. And, apparently, a little goes a long way. To cover both sides of the 39" X 39" table with 3 to 4 coats it will only take a pint. I've read in a few places that, if possible, it's better to use products from the same manufacturer rather then mixing products so, I've decided to give it a try. I'll order their sanding sealer, I already have the grain filler, and their extreme poly and give it try on some scrap wood. That's the one kind of wood that I never run out of. Anyway, I'll stop rambling at this point and I will let you know in a couple of weeks how it works.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-29-2018, 06:38 PM Thread Starter
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As a follow up, I received the Crystalac Amber sanding sealer and their Extreme Protection Polyurethane. As instructed by the Crystalac rep, I put 3 coats of the amber tone sanding sealer, sanded, put 3 coats of Crystalac grain filler on half of the text piece, sanded, and 3 coats of the poly. The side with the grain filler came out very smooth. Their poly is self leveling. I like it. I could see the pores on the unfilled side. This actually worked quite well. However, it really didn't bring out the color of the walnut. It was only slightly darker than the raw wood. Not acceptable for the table top.

I'm back to square one. Actually, square two since I will use their sanding sealer and poly. It's water based so clean up is easy. So, I ordered the dye but I ordered the medium brown walnut rather than the American walnut. It came in today and I'm working on a test piece. First time I've used dye. I'm glad that I put plastic down.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-29-2018, 10:02 PM
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Hi Barry,
Judging from the finishing schedule in your original post, it looks like you were originally planning to follow the You Tube video from Woodworkers Source, with which I'm familiar and are highly recommended BTW. I think you would have been much closer to the results you were seeking if you had stuck with the original plan, with the possible exception that the Woodworkers Source schedule might have produced more reddish undertones than bargained for, especially since you are trying to match an old finish on the remainder of the piece. May I offer the following suggestions:

Behlen Solar Lux and the General Finishes water based dye stains are outstanding products, and would equally serve as an excellent, base colorant. Available from Woodcraft. Mohawk is the parent company of Behlen and offers the same products in different packaging. Available from Klingspor. I like the Behlen American Walnut (more reddish brown) or the Behlen Van Dyke Brown (more brown) on walnut stock. I do not recommend the Behlen Med. Brown Walnut as it is very orange and lighter in overall tone.

Use the Zinsser SealCoat to seal the Behlens (or equivalent) base colorant. Then apply the grain filler. I'm not familiar with the Crystalac filler that you've chosen but you will be hard pressed to find a better filler than the Timbermate product. It is primarily advertised as a wood putty/dough but works great as a wood filler after thinning with water. There are several You Tube videos on the subject of using Timbermate as a filler. It is an exceptional product and fairly economical. Apply another sealer coat after the filler.

Any good quality gel stain or glazing stain would serve you well as a top-coat colorant. Varathane, maybe currently marketed as Rustoleum, makes a good thick-bodied gel stain. Available at Home Depot or Lowes. But for even greater color saturation, I would use Mohawk glazing stain in the color of your choice. I've never used the Old Masters stains but I understand they are great products.

Topcoat with Poly or aerosol lacquer. Note that you might benefit from another sealer coat after the glazing stain and before the final top coats.

I would also suggest watching videos from Charles Neil, a true expert on coloring and finishing. His DVDs entitled "It's All About The Color" are a great compendium on multi-step staining processes to achieve color saturation and depth.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-30-2018, 12:42 PM Thread Starter
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Tom, thank you for your posting. I'm not trying to match the old coffee table since it's a 40 year old maple veneer that has yellowed over the years. I'm only keeping the base. The top I'm making is for a room with totally different furniture than we had originally. When we moved we recovered some of our old furniture with a totally different color scheme. Moving on, you are so right about the color. The medium brown walnut dye produced an orange color that almost looks like I started with Padauk. I ordered the American Walnut dye this morning.

I really like the Crystalac grain filler. It's very thin and you use it straight out of the container. It dries crystal clear. A little goes a long way. On smaller projects I've applied it and used a credit card to squeegee it off. It dries very quickly so it's easy to apply 3 coats in a couple of hours.

On my test pieces I'll try your suggestion of applying an additional seal coat over the stain.

For Poly, I have tried several of them over the years and settled on Zar at Malcolm's suggestion. He has an excellent method for finishing. I've used it on a wall hanging cabinet and on a free hanging corner shelf. Everyone who's seen it and touched it have been impressed by the finish. It's posted on the RouterForums web site. You can search for it.

For this piece I'm going to compare Zar with the Extreme Protection poly from Crystalac. Crystalac is water based and is advertised as a very hard finish. I'm looking for a hard finish since the coffee table will take a beating. People put their feet on it while watching television. I'm guilty of this too. I recently moved to Florida and all of my kids and grandkids, 8 of them ranging in age from 6 to 15, come for visits - especially during the winter - so I'm trying to get this table finished before that. Right now, I'm having trouble getting the lumber for this project from the lumber yard. Last time I checked was in September and they didn't have the quality that I was looking for. I put a call into them this morning and am waiting for a call back to see if the higher quality walnut has come in.

I have watched a number of Charles Neil's videos. I'll search for ones on coloring using both dyes and stains. Thanks for the suggestion.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-30-2018, 10:22 PM
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I had never heard of Crystalac before reading your posting. I'm always interested in new finishing products and techniques so I did a little You Tube watching to catch up on Crystalac. Their products look promising.

Good luck with your project. I'll be interested to know results of your comparative testing between Zar and Crystalac.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-31-2018, 03:27 PM Thread Starter
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Tom, I'll post the results in a couple of weeks. I'm waiting on the American walnut dye to come in next week then I'll do the test samples again testing the Crystalac sanding sealer vs. Zinseer Sealcoat. Then after I determine if I want to go with the stain on not, I'll finally be testing the Zar vs Crystalac poly. The initial + for the Crystalac poly is that it has UV stabilizers in it and the Zar doesn't.
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