Sanding and Finishing While Using Putty to Fill the Cracks

By Bernie Bottens | Posted: 08/30/2012 10:00AM


Bernie Bottens how to finish wood   Last time around we talked about using masking tape to get a clean cut on splinter-prone red oak. Here's another tape tip: As you know, red oak has an impressive pore structure. The great thing about water-based putty is that it will go anywhere I rub it with my finger. That includes places that I don’t want it to go.

I want it in the small cracks at the joint. Not in the pores adjacent to the joint. The tape allows me total control of the putty.

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The pictures are taken after I have allowed the putty to dry and I have removed the ¾” tape. My next step will be to get my detail sander out and sand the ends of each rail to remove any imperfections where one piece butts up against the next.

But, you know what? I won’t have to sand those areas any more than a minimal amount because, as you can see, the putty is right where I want it and not slobbered all over.

A good general sanding will be given to the whole rail to make it ready for wiping stain. You know that I can’t wait to get to that phase of the job. But you better believe that I’m going to take the time with my sanding to make sure the stain applies nice and even.

That means a careful and complete sanding of the whole rail. Because, as I always say, white wood sanding is not negotiable.

Until next time...spray on!


About the Author

Bernie Bottens

Bernie Bottens ( and teaches on the subject of wood and wood finishing in industrial woodworking. He and his wife, Carol, live in Vancouver, WA. Bernie has been teaching wood finishing to shop owners, shop foremen, spray technicians and finishers all over Oregon, southwest Washington, and northern California for the past 9 years. Prior to that, he owned his own cabinet shop. His shop credentials include apprenticing and becoming a journeyman exhibit builder. Before that he taught in the public schools for 20 years. Bernie is the owner of Kapellmeister Enterprises, Inc. and Kap Coatings Consulting. Reach him at

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