How to Fill Heavy Wood Grain

While sometimes I love tiger oak for furniture, it is a big no-go for me on cabinet doors. Need a reminder of how our kitchen door-fronts looked? Not pretty. The first step was to sand down the fronts. The goal was to remove most of the old sealer and finish. No amount of sanding will…

While sometimes I love tiger oak for furniture, it is a big no-go for me on cabinet doors. Need a reminder of how our kitchen door-fronts looked? Not pretty.

The first step was to sand down the fronts. The goal was to remove most of the old sealer and finish. No amount of sanding will remove a heavy grain.

Do you have any of these dipped work gloves? They help absorb some of the sander’s vibrations when you have a big sanding job to do!

Once everything was sanded down and the old hardware holes were filled, I wiped all the dust away in preparation for the grain-filling. I found this product online and thought I’d give it a shot. It comes in a quart size and I used about 3/4 of the can for 19 doors and drawers.

It looks like tar and has a super heavy odor. This is definitely an outdoor project!!

I was nervous going into this, because they made the directions look really complicated. But in reality, it couldn’t be easier – you just slap it on and rub it in! :)

The directions suggest using a wide putty knife, pulling down on the diagonal of the grain. 

After trying that for a while, I found that it was a faster job to just rub in the filler with an old rag. I felt like I had more control with the rag and I could push the filler into the grain with more pressure.

While you can still see the grain patterns, it’s super smooth to the touch and you won’t be able to see any of the old grain when they’re all painted and hung. So happy with the results!

Next up: framing out the borders of the doors with trim, and priming/painting! See my kitchen reno plans here.
PS You could totally use this stuff to fill the heavy oak grain on those cheap, 90s oak “farmhouse” dining tables. The filled grain will still accept new stain (the filler comes in different shades – the one I used here is dark) and of course you can paint it, too. It just needs some time tolet the solvents fully dry out.

Have you ever used this product or anything like it?
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28 thoughts on “How to Fill Heavy Wood Grain

  1. I have not used this, but it does remind me of "gesso" to prime a canvas. One of my teachers would sand it with a fine grain sander and then was able to paint details….like the old masters.
    I am amazed at all you do in the midst of daily life. Please tell me you have help?

  2. Jenny, I'm excited to see the final product! How exciting for DIYer's who don't know what to do with those ugly oak cabinets ;) So glad you're feeling better ;)

  3. They got those cupboards from a church reno, right? I'd recognize those cabinets anywhere.

    Excited to see your final kitchen!

  4. My bathroom cabinet has some major flamed oak grain on it but I decided to strip the cabinets and use a lime wax to fill in the wood grain. Once I figured out how to remove the excess lime wax easily (use a clear wax to buff off the extra lime wax) it turned out great. It was starting to look like more of a pickled finish rather than limed oak before I figured the clear wax trick out. The white lime wax filled in all the wood grain and created a lovely pattern. A completely different approach & finish than your direction with the painted kitchen cabinets but it's how I decided to deal with the wood grain on a small vanity.

  5. I have never heard of such a product..pretty sure a few of my neighbors 80's style cabinets could benefit from this product. Can not wait to see your end result.

    Apparently my phone lost your cell phone number. I went to text you the other day when I heard about the tetanus mishaps..I feel so sad that you had to endure that.


  6. Rubber gloves for the sander, genius! Thank you! I always end up numb for a day after a big project and can't believe I never thought of this myself!

  7. Jenny, this is going to be fantastic! I love the paint color with brass pulls.
    Looks like that grain filler is really a fantastic solution. Can't wait to see a painted door! good luck.

  8. You do in a week what it takes me to do in a month or more! I laughed aloud at that comment about church comments. I'm wondering if you're going to update the cabinet frames at all. Guess it's not entirely necessary since they're not visible? Knowing you, you'll probably do something with pop on the inside…

  9. Wow, I really wish I had known about this when I redid a dresser earlier this year! The veneer was awful, so I just chipped it off to reveal a pretty heavy grain underneath. I tried wood filler and a bunch of different types of primer but nothing worked exactly the way I wanted it to. I'm going to have to use this at some point!

  10. Thanks for sharing this project! I have been looking for a grain filler for a long time! Can't wait to see the final outcome!

  11. We salvage and refinish antique/vintage furniture and find a lot with damage. We usually fill the pieces with wood putty and often paint. This is the stuff my husband and I often turn to besides Elmer's wood filler

    It requires a lot of sanding and coats…just a mess, lots of work but nice and smooth and no grain (but you have to paint it). We hadn't heard of the Pore-O-Pac and now I'm smitten. Loving the look!

  12. I had no idea there was grain filler. I have done some furniture makeovers and most of them have smooth grain, but one was an oak twin bed. I have the rest of the bedroom suite to do too, but it took me forever to use wood filler to get the bed to look halfway decent. I'll have to try out the grain filler on the next piece!

  13. Sooooo, do you have recommendations for cheap cabinets? I have a small kitchen, so I could replace them, but….I've done enough already. Apparently the sides are, well, like plastic that looks like wood. Heard of it? Ideas?

    These, like everything you do, look great!

  14. Can't wait to see how it turns out! I've never heard of this product …although I have tried to fill oak grain with painter's putty before putting down my coat of primer with mixed success.

  15. How did this project turn out? Did you stain or paint?
    Does the grain filler accept stain?

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