I'm guessing that most of you do repairs, and would not be particularly interested in a pore filling method. If anyone is, I'll describe it.
Brian, I am a builder rather than a repairer. I would be interested. Pore filling is one of those things where there are a hundred different methods - which clearly indicates that none of them are ideal so people keep trying something else. If you have got a good approach I would love to hear it.
I just realized that I have a rosewood test panel prepared and ready to test. I'll test it tomorrow, and will have some more info to report on the process.
Hi Brian, I am also a builder first, these days, and I’m always looking for new approaches for this type of chore!!
I turned out to have gotten sidetracked these last couple of days, and haven't done the "Q" tests on the EI rosewood panel that has been filled. I've been researching chainsaws for cutting back the acacias that surround my shop, and provide a fire hazard. Any advice? It seems from the Amazon reviews that nobody makes a good one anymore. The Echo $200 cheapie gets the best reviews, and that speaks poorly for the Huskys.
The process in a nutshell: I'm using low viscosity epoxy, spreading it with a brayer, and allowing it to thicken up before scraping off the excess. I've tried Z-Poxy, and WEST 105-205, and they work about the same---WEST is somewhat less allergenic due to its dilution of the hardener with its 5:1 resin to hardener ratio.
At 70° F. I'm allowing between an hour and a half and two hours for thickening up. I don't know why it works better than the 15 other methods and products that I've tried over the last 25 years, but it does.
The brayer works particularly well for smoothing out, and might be doing some pushing of the epoxy down into the pores. The trick seems to be to catch the epoxy at the point that it's thickened, but is still scrape-able.
I'm knew to this, and figure that it's got a learning curve like everything else. I'll keep posting about it, and would appreciate hearing your experience.
I have used Benjamin Moore Grain Filler mixed with stain rubbed in with burlap successfully for oak woodwork. It's a very fine cream and gives a fine finish. My guess is it contains silica dust.
I should have mentioned a couple of things. I've been trying to find a clear pore filler all these years. Opaque paste fillers---including wood dust---seem to obscure the natural look of the wood. That is particularly true of the Spanish cedar and mahogany that I use for necks. That's just my prejudice...
The other thing is that I'm pre-filling my side and back wood---EI rosewood. I laminate my sides without heat or moisture, so the outer veneers can be pre-filled.
Back in the '90s I took a class with Jeff Elliott and Cyndy Burton. Cyndy taught French polishing and used 5 minute epoxy as a filler. It just occurred to me that her success might have been partially due to the stuff thickening up by the time she started scraping off the excess. I'll try some 15 minute Z-Poxy, as that should give me time to coat a full panel before needing to scrape back.
I'll have to try using a brayer next time. I have been using an Ettore squeege on the last few builds and expired credit cards before that. I have tried Zpoxy, which was easy to mix, but I didn't need the amber cast it had. I used West systems 205 w/107 hardener lately and still have about 1/2 can. I've heard some folks got good results using Slivertip, and want to try it next but it's a bit pricey.
It usually takes two coats, sanding the ridges off between, and 1 wash coat thinned 50% w/acetone to blend out any sand-thrus. I'll have to try your scraping suggestion instead of sanding.
I've got two "local" wood guitars I'm working on now with wood cut from my property, White Oak B&S, Ponderosa Pine top (and maybe neck, the Oak is pretty heavy) and Manzanita bridge, binding, fingerboard and center neck lamination. The Oak has some pretty big pores to fill.
Forgot to ask....how wide is the brayer? Are you using a hard or soft one? Does it clean up OK with acetone, or how's it done?
Thanks for the tips.
The brayer that I've been using is a "Speedball" brand #4173 by Hunt Mfg.---cheap on Amazon. It's roller is 3" long by about an inch in diameter. I don't think dimensions matter much. The firm, smooth roller seems to do the trick. I forgot to wipe it off once, and it still seems to work fine. Acetone or alcohol should clean it well, though with 15 minute epoxy I'm going to have to do that right away (;->)...
Since I use epoxy to glue together my side laminations, I've been using the gray foam paint rollers on the side veneers---cut down to 1 inch length. They work to spread out a thin coat, but don't make the nice smooth surface like the brayer. Does that make a difference? Yet another of the luthier mysteries...
I'll get one ordered.
Wouldn't you know it.... laminating a side is on my to do list for today. I hope I can find a foam roller in my painting tools to try it out.
Beware the paint rollers with the light colored thick foam! I had a batch of epoxy go off in one of those! I use the dark gray ones where the foam is perhaps a fat eighth of an inch thick. The ones from WEST are light colored but thin foam---and expensive!