Repairing or Filling Tear-Out

Tips for filling planer tear-out and blending the area with the surrounding wood. February 12, 2010

I am building a set of low, free-standing floor shelves made with yellow heart (type of mahogany?) for a client. I'm new to furniture, and have run into tear-out in the tops, but have already installed them to the bases. I am using wood glue and wood dust (YH) mixed to fill seams and cracks. Will this also work with the tear out, or is there a better approach? I used oil-based Dura-Seal 500 Sanding Sealer and will use Dura-Seal 210 to finish.

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor R:
Glue and dust is an old carpenter's trick, but works best with liquid hide glue rather than yellow glue. The hide glue will absorb stains and finishes better than yellow.

From contributor F:
Not sure if you want to repair or just fill? I assume you are talking about tearout in solid wood caused by planing against the grain. To repair it would be to level the surrounding areas with sanding or scraping or hand planing or a combination.

You can tell which direction to scrape or plane with the grain by examining the tear out. One end of a chipped spot is usually pointed and smooth and the other end is squarer and looks broken. Plane from the broken end to the pointed end.

Depending on the circumstances and severity of the tearout, it can usually be repaired by feathering an area of the surface as opposed to an equal stock removal from the entire surface. However, if the piece is loose and fits your planer, sometimes the solution would be to run it through the planer with the grain oriented correctly.

From contributor J:

To the best of my knowledge, yellow heart is a cousin of purple heart. When I thickness plane it, it tends to tear out whenever there is a change in the grain. I prefer to rough plane it, then send it through my thickness sander so I eliminate some of the problems. Finally, you may have to do a lot of scraping.

From contributor O:
Mohawk Finishing Co. makes all sorts of products that would probably help. One that we use often is the colored epoxy putty. They make about 10 different colors. They also make wax fill sticks and furniture repair supplies in addition to fine finishing products.

From contributor J:
In my last walnut project I mixed Gabon ebony dust with a fast drying epoxy, and that worked better than any of the commercial products. I filled the small pin knot cracks and it looked like the real thing.