Paste Wood Filler Problems

On mahogany, light-colored paste wood filler sticks out like a sore thumb. The trick is to use black-tinted filler. June 28, 2006

I am finishing some 1/8" ribbon mahogany that was installed in a boat in for refinishing. I used a transparent paste filler but didn't tint it. Now the grain is full of white pores that don't seem to take any stain. I need to stain the paneling, (it's too light) but need a way to darken the white. The plywood is thin veneer so scrubbing with a brass brush, and then heavy sanding is out. Does anyone have any ideas on a way to stain, coat or tone to get rid of the white?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor G:
I’m taking a guess here - could you be seeing air bubbles caused by too vigorous mixing of the filler? Have you seen the Knowledge Base article below?

Stripping Out Grain Filler

From contributor B:
Mike - here's a way to solve the problem. U use latex wood filler and mix it with black latex paint and get it as black as I can. Then wet the surface first, put it on with a damp rag working it into the pores - working fast now while still wet, and scrape off the surface with a razor blade or something like that. The secret is to hand sand with 220 when it’s dry. If you use a machine you will sand the filler out. Even if you leave a little on the surface it stains up very nice and even. There are no white pores and a nice smooth surface to finish.

From contributor S:
What you have is a reversed affect with that filler being light. If I were you I would try and remove the filler, a chemical stripper should pull it, then wash down with solvent. Trying to tone this out will kill the beauty of the ribbon, even if you used dyes.

From contributor D:
Paste filler never really fills and it's never really "clear when dry". Knowing these two things tint some paste filler solid black and put a second coat on. It should get rid of most of the white.

From contributor G:
I had similar problem with walnut, even though I did test a piece. I was told to use "peel a-way" stripper. I used it as directed, scrubbed with a small toothbrush wire brush, and a majority of the white came out. Perhaps a couple applications would work in your situation.

From the original questioner:
I tried tinting another batch of filler really dark with some TransTint. I guess the first coat really filled in the porous mahogany plywood because it didn't really take any of the darker filler. There was a lot of white in the pores.