Filling Inlay Gap with Epoxy

Finishers debate the idea of filling a low inlay groove with epoxy to bring the surface flush. November 8, 2007

I have a table in which a recess was routed out for a veneer inlay. The recess is deeper than the inlay, so there is a slight crater effect. I was thinking of using an epoxy to fill the gap so that the table would be smooth. However, some of the liquid epoxy I have been experimenting with is not clear and has either a blue tint or yellow tint. What have you tried that does not have color (I was thinking of trying the Famowood epoxy next)? Also, I don't want a high gloss finish. Is it possible to modify the sheen once it dries?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor L:
Would you consider just building up the area with a high build sealer before going on to finish the rest of the top? Or you could coat the top a ton of times and then wet sand the whole top to "deck" it flat. How deep is the indentation from the rest of the table top?

From the original questioner:
I would consider either option. What are some product names for those? The recess is 2-3/16ths of an inch. Not huge, but enough to be noticeable

From contributor C:
Can you sand the rest of the tabletop so everything is flush?

From contributor P:
If the thing is way too deep, glue something onto the back of the inlay material - anything from luan door skin to craft paper. This is one reason why I prefer thick inlay materials - you have the freedom to mess up a little. They cost a bit more and are difficult to find, but they're worth it.

From contributor A:
I just learned about two weeks ago that a lot of products (including oil based primer) will not stick to epoxy resin for up to 5-7 days. This isn't usually a problem when gluing something, but may be if you are trying to use it as a coating/filler (i.e., it is still curing even when hard). Let it sit for a week before coating it.

From contributor G:
Can you make the routed spot deeper to accept a proper thickness of plywood, like contributor P said - luan or similar? This way you can get it perfectly flush.

From contributor M:
What difference would the color of the epoxy make, if you're placing a piece of veneer over it?

I think Duro has a clear epoxy in small tubes, and they are sold at many paint and home improvement centers.

From contributor A:
He is writing about having an inlay below the surface and using the epoxy as grain filler/leveler to bring the inlayed area flush with the rest of the table. Padding from below would make more sense, as others have mentioned.

From contributor B:
It is recommended that you let any epoxy filler fully cure, then use an alcohol wash to remove any amine blush or wax before topcoating; some epoxies have a waxy exudate that is meant to block air from inhibiting the cure.

From contributor M:
Contributor A, I see what you mean; it would be less noticeable if the filler was underneath the veneer, rather than filling and then coating and trying to hide the filler.

From contributor A:
Contributor B, amine blush is water soluble and occurs with the West System (and other old school epoxy brands). It will actually prevent one coat from sticking to the next coat. It also clogs sandpaper. We use a little Simple Green or detergent with plain water. The newer systems like MAS epoxies are non-blushing.

From the original questioner:
I actually took the advice of the forum and put some craft paper under the inlay. It did not get it 100% flush, and since the top was plywood and the inlay thin, I had no options to sand, so I used some epoxy. I like the deepness and projection of the epoxy but can't get it level. But thanks for all the great thoughts!