Repairing Wood Filler Smudges

Advice on touching up a flat finish where wood filler has affected the surface sheen near filled nail holes. April 30, 2009

I did some casework for a customer and used a catalyzed lacquer spray finish with a very low/flat luster on cherry. We filled the holes after installation with a pre-colored wood putty and wiped off the excess putty. When the light hits the cabinetry just right, those spots where the wood putty was wiped show up as silver dollar sized shiny spots. I have tried mineral spirits and denatured alcohol without any results. It seems like the oil or base from the putty has made the finish shiny around each hole. Has anyone else had this issue? Is there any easy fix?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor Z:
What the flattening agent does is cause the outer edge of your finish to have lots of little bumps. What these bumps do is disperse reflected light, causing the finish to look dull.
You have either filled the bumps or smoothed them out causing it to look satin instead of dull. You will have to do a final coat of dull to even out everything. It is always your final coat that determines your sheen. If you spray satin on top of dull it will look satin, just like if you spray dull on top of satin it will look dull.

From the original questioner:
Thanks guys. The only issue is that the casework is all installed in the house, so to spray would be a huge production. I was hoping there might be some solvent to remove the shininess around the holes.

From contributor G:
If you want to go the spray can route use the Mohawk product. Their touch up spray cans are anti halo, you won't see the repair. Next time, why don't you use the softer wax crayons designed for hole filling. They don't leave any residue or other signs they were used.

From contributor C:
Woodfinishers Depot touch up sprays do not leave a halo, and unlike Mohawk there is no minimum purchase.

From contributor E:
Mohawk’s perfect blend should work for you. I've sprayed it on the center of a panel to see how it worked. After it dried you couldn't tell where is was sprayed. If you buy direct from Mohawk there is a minimum. There is no minimum from a dealer. There are a couple of companies selling over the net.

From contributor G:
I get mine from a distributor. I can buy a case or a can, whatever I need.

From contributor B:
I had the same exact issue. Fortunately it was on my own house. The solution which I resolved after a couple of years of staring at it was too give it another coat of wb urethane. Only this time I was forced to brush it on instead of spraying because of the same problem you face. None the less it did the trick, and you will most likely be the only person who notices (if there are any brush marks).