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Winter 2013-2014

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Q & A: Knot Repair

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Q & A: Knot Repair


Question:

I’m working on an oak table with a top made from three 12-in. wide, 3/4-in. thick boards. One of the boards has a tight knot that’s about 1-1/2 in. across. There are some small voids around the knot that need to be filled, and I’m concerned about it loosening over time. I considered cutting an inlay, but I’d rather find some way to stabilize the knot. Do you have any recommendations? I’m planning to apply a gel stain, followed by a tung oil finish.


Answer:

I’m glad you’ve realized that knots aren’t necessarily defects; in many cases, they’re marks of character. My standard technique for knot repairs is to fill the voids with a mixture of clear epoxy and fine sawdust.

Make your sawdust by sanding a scrap piece of oak with 220-grit sandpaper. Make plenty because there won’t be time to create more once you mix the epoxy.

Apply masking tape to the underside of the knot to prevent epoxy from leaking out. Place the board on your workbench, good side up. Put on protective gloves and mix the epoxy according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Blend in oak sawdust gradually until you have a creamy mixture. Push this mixture into and around the knot. Use a flexible palette knife (available from an art supply store) or you could use an old, bent, table knife. Confine the epoxy to the repair area, but mound it slightly. Stir the filled-in area with a pin to eliminate air bubbles. When the epoxy is dry, level it with a plane or scraper, and sand with at least 220-grit sandpaper before applying your finish.


This story originally appeared in American Woodworker April 1999, issue #72.

April 1999, issue #72

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