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Staining wood filler

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  • Staining wood filler

    Hi Everyone, I'm a beginner-woodworker with a problem with staining wood filler. Everywhere I've applied the wood filler I get a dark outline of stain. I'm guessing the filler shrank away from the edge of the wood, allowing stain to build up giving it the dark outline appearance. If it wasn't for this build-up, I would have a perfect match of stained wood and stained filler. Anyone experience this???.....Is there technique to stop this, or should I quit using filler and instead use matching wood putty after everything is stained and varnished???....Thanks in advance for any help...
    Thanks,<br />Erwin<br />\"It\'s all in the grain.....\"

  • #2
    Edwin---think you nailed the reason for the dark edges---stain is sitting at any indent, below the surface wipped with a rag.

    First thing is to minimize the amount of filler you need. Whenever possible, hide nail heads on interrior of project or just used glue, etc.

    If you want to use a filler, before staining, you will need to do use two applications or overfill and later sand smooth. However, few stains take stain the same as wood----I tried the Minwax Stainable filler and it was better than average, but still wasn't invisible. In this regard, sometimes it's better to stain first, then get as close a match, either with pre-mixed or stain/filler you mix yourself.

    Colored putty or wax sticks are good for small spots and you can get pretty close matches.

    Again---the trick is not to need a filler---BTW, for any large gouges or oppses' sometimes you might be better with a dutchman patch than trying to fill the hole.


    • #3
      Erwin, check your joints first before you stain. Then fill first, using latex filler. Hollow fill, then let it set up. fill it a second time then sand while still wet. Use orbital sander with fine grit, 220 or higher and at low speed.The fine wood dust generated mixes with the filler and you have the same color sawdust as your wood, and a much better stain match without the lines you are getting now.


      • #4
        I'm by far no finish expert, heck not even an amature. But I remember reading a while back, use a sealer, then a gel stain. Multiple coats for darker shades. Rub and wipe with a cloth applicator.

        The sealer doesn't let the stain soak into soft spots, or cracks, and you get a more uniform color. Suppose to give you more controll over what your looking for, color wise.
        John E. Adams<br /><a href=\"\" target=\"_blank\"></a>


        • #5
          You might want to consider using stain powder rather than wood filler since the powder is a light neutral color and is formed into putty by mixing with the stain you are using on the wood. Many fillers will not take the stain well at all, usually ending up much much lighter than the surrounding areas (with the dark ring around it due to shrinkage).


          • #6
            Thanks everyone for your tips and techniques. I'm going to try a couple of them to save my current project, and the others on my future projects....
            Thanks,<br />Erwin<br />\"It\'s all in the grain.....\"


            • #7
              being an amateur at best, i am not the best resource for finishing techniques. I am however a perfectionist and have tried several different methods for filler and (you know for filling imperfections in my projects), as well as imperfections in the wood. the absolute best i have found (which was a tip from an old carpenter friend of mine), is to use durhams water putty. it dries hard, does not shrink, blends well and does accept a little bit of stain. it is what i have found to work the best at my level


              • #8
                does accept a little bit of stain
                Could you expand on that a little please. Are you talking about the soaking in of the stain? How close of a color match do you get? This stuff sounds interesting and something I would like to try. Where do you get it at? Thanks.
                Teach your kids about 30 percent of their ice cream.


                • #9
                  Minwax has a stainable wood filler. It really works pretty well. It can probably be had at any fairly well stocked Minwax source. I found mine at a local home store.

                  Good luck,



                  • #10
                    i have tried the minwax and the durhams seems to work out better. durhams can be bought at HD, sears hardware, etc. it seems to be the most porous of all of the fillers so it does absorb some stain. you still see a bit of a difference because it is a wood filler, but in my opinion it is the least noticable and best looking. also much easier to work with.
                    \"A SHIP OF WAR IS THE BEST AMBASSADOR\"<br /><br />OLIVER CROMWELL


                    • #11
                      something i am going to try next time i do a project is instead of water i am going to use stain to mix with the putty. i just don't know if it will harden. what i have done is mixed some saw dust with the putty (just a little bit) trial and error, that seemed to work pretty well.
                      \"A SHIP OF WAR IS THE BEST AMBASSADOR\"<br /><br />OLIVER CROMWELL


                      • #12
                        I would worry about mixing an oil based stain with a putty material that is expecting water. Although I am not a chemist, I expect that the water is required to activate the glue/cement in the putty, which would not be provided by the stain.

                        If you were using water based dye, that might work.

                        Adding sawdust to something else, like varnish, shellac, or glue, is somewhat like adding stone to concrete - gives it body, fills, etc., and when sanded may expose enough microscopic wood particles that can still hold stain. But I sure wouldn't count on much.

                        Even the best stainable wood fillers still have no grain and a different texture than wood, so will look different than the wood - I only recommend use of a wood filler in a small accident in an obscure area like the bottom of a shelf.

                        If you have a ding or dent, rather than cut grain, try steaming the wood. I have been amazed at how much comes back.


                        • #13
                          If you were using water based dye, that might work

                          Unfortunately, it hugely distorts the color, all that white putty makes it pastel. Maybe a water based pigment stain, I've never tried that.

                          (and now I'll have to try it... )