Grain filling - finishing ash

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19 Apr 2021
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New Forest
I'm nearing the end of my first project and still picking up as much knowledge as I can.

Could anyone explain the need and process of finishing ash, or other woods, other than simply sanding and staining?

I've heard of grain filling, especially with ash/oak due to open pores. Also sanding sealer. I can't find a decent resource regarding each process, how, when and why though.

I'm planning on finishing the ash with a wax based cherry stain. It's an easel, so I'm wondering if the other finishes are more for showpiece items, although because it's my first time, I'm trying to learn as much as I can in one go.

Any help would be great. Thanks.
Hi there...I use a lot of is a wood that is so random grain wise that finishing it is almost custom like...
Sometimes I get the rough finish and other times it cuts smooth as silk..
With this die back around there is one really nteresting wood...
I mostly just use one or two coats of sanding sealer and a proprietary wax finish..using fine steel wool...


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Just use the ash for how it grows... that’s the beauty of it... don’t get to technical with the finish....if you need a class finish... use beech wood
Grain filler/ sanding sealer put simply, just fill in the open pore's to give you a smother finish,both tend to raise the wood fibre's so i tend to leave the final sanding if using them:). what are you making :unsure:
Grain filling is for when you want a smooth and shiny surface. Think guitar, or a 150 year old dining table.

For many woods, after smoothing you have pores (little holes, eg oak, mahogany) or deep lines between grain lines (eg ash). If you apply varnish or lacquer, it shrinks into those holes and lines as it dries. So you can't get a uniform, shiny surface without filling the depressions.

For most wooden objects, a mirror shine is not needed. Your finish, whatever it is, will sink into the pores, but it still protects the wood from grease and dirt. It will have a sheen, but wont be really shiny.

So, pore filling is a purely cosmetic process. On an easel, that seems too much to me. And ash looks better, in my view, without pore filling.
Hi donperereira. Have you made a display easel or an artists easel? What is this 'wax based cherry stain'? Is it the Osmo oil with a cherry tint? if so you will not need to worry about a grain filler but Ash does not take stain very well so if you want to apply colour to it it would be best to have one that is either sprayed on or floated on like with the Osmo oil. If you can give us a little more info about what the piece will be used for and what you want it to look like, we ( the ukworkshop members) can give you more tailored advise.
Thanks for the replies. It's an artists easel, i've designed it to be counterweighted.

So I'm expecting any finish to eventually get stained/blotches with oil paint. It's mostly to get a uniform colour from the various bits of ash, the supplier had lost 2 of the English boards I requested and replaced them with Italian which had olive ash in. I've tried to keep the 2 types separate as much as possible as the English is very pale in comparison.

The wax/stain I have is Fiddes & sons supreme wax finish in cherry, I used the website below: WFFT - Interior - Change Colour - Moderate Durability - Options | Rag 'n' Bone Brown - UK Woodworking and Restoration YouTube projects

I probably should have asked here first.

My current intention, before any additional advice is to sand through 80, 120, 180 and 240. Apply a damp rag to lift the fibres, the hand sand along the grain with 240. Then apply the wax. Am I missing any important steps?

Thanks again,
Sand further with 320 grit. Then paint on two coats of shellac sanding sealer, use the Fiddes brand if you can. Leave that to dry overnight, then sand that smooth with 600 grit wet n' dry. Don't lean in too hard - let the 600 grit do all the work.
The sanding sealer will go powdery white as you sand it. This is just the zinc powders in the compound - they help fill the grain. Wipe it clean with a rag and then apply the wax. The shellac finish will be completely transparent.

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