Suggestions for Opening Up Oak Pores

A finisher needs to create a deeper, more dramatic open look in the pores of Red Oak, and collects a few ideas. March 26, 2013

We need to achieve a better dramatic/deeper look in oak pores. The furniture will be stained and finished with CV. I know it is easier in solid than in veneers. Iím looking for any advice/tricks to do it manually.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor R:
Are you using red or white oak? Red has much bigger pores. You might consider changing to ash.

From the original questioner:
It's red oak, already built. That's the customerís wish. Can I use water and a wire brush?

From contributor R:
Maybe water, but for sure a wire/brass brush.

From contributor N:
On a white over black faux cerused dining room cabinet I used a fairly stiff brass brush selectively in the open grain areas (I didn't want to scratch up the whole thing). It did work, but not a lot.

From the original questioner:
Second question now: How do I do a three coats system without filling the open pores too much? It's a vanity for a full bathroom so I need some moisture protection.

From contributor U:
What about sealing it with a high solid topcoat, sand, and top with the same finish? Maybe you will get more of a bridging affect. Try samples first.

From contributor C:
I wonder if you could apply a few thinned down coats of your sealer followed by a thinned down coat or two of your topcoat. Red oak has open pores to begin with so if you opened them up even more with a wire brush the water/moisture, etc. would have a "pool" to collect in. This could create problems down the road so you might want to re-think your choice of topcoats.

From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor:
Do some samples with a catalyzed vinyl topcoat, I think you'll like the look. It's a tough durable finish that has a thin film build that shows the texture of the wood really well. Sherwin Williams Industrial Coatings Division has one called Supe Kemvar. Your current supplier may have a similar product.

From the original questioner:
I have plans to start with the samples. Thanks again everyone.