Like many woodworkers, my interest in woodworking started in my teen years due to a passionate woodshop teach who inspired me to learn how to use tools and make things with my own two hands. Unfortunately what they don’t teach you in woodshop is perfection is allusive and rarely if ever achieved. I struggled for many years trying to make things perfect from the start of any project until I read some words of wisdom somewhere online, “A good craftsman isn’t someone who that doesn’t make mistakes. A good craftsman is someone who knows how to fix or make the most out of his mistakes.”

Understanding that lifted a weight off my shoulders. It allowed me to understand that imperfections are unavoidable. Learning to hide or enhance an imperfection is a learned skill. The following example is just one of the ways I’ve learned to enhance or hide imperfections.

When I’m working with casting resin and burl wood, I often run into situations where the resin hasn’t fully penetrated different areas of the burl or in this case, there voids inside the burl that the resin couldn’t penetrate. In situations like this, I typically use a coffee grounds and CA Glue solution for a quick fix. Once turned and sanded, coffee tends to look like a bark inclusion or a variation in the woods color or tone and is unnoticeable by consumers/non-makers.

I’m sure this is not the only viable method but after many failed attempts, I’ve found this method to be the most reliable for a smooth and clean finish that works for me:

Items needed:

  • Starbond Super Fast Thin CA Glue
  • Starbond Accelerator (Optional)
  • Dried coffee grounds or fine sawdust
  • Ice pick of thin bamboo skewer

Once you’ve identified voids or cracks in the blank, I’ve found its best to fill them early on in the process rather than waiting until you’re close to final dimensions. This gives plenty of room for modifications to the design and room to trim back or sand down to a smooth and completely filled finish.

Be sure to use 100% dry coffee grounds (or sawdust) and pack the filling into the void or crack as deep as possible. I’ve found using an ice pick is helpful to get into the hard to reach areas. Once the void is packed, mound some additional coffee grounds on top of the area for maximum fill.

Slowly drip thin Starbond Thin CA Glue on the top of the mound and let it seep into the void. Avoid applying too much glue at once as it sometimes causes a caustic reaction and will turn whitish in color. The included drip tips with the Starbond Thin CA Glue are great for managing the amount of glue applied and getting it exactly in the areas you want it. Wait approximately 3 to 5 minutes for the glue to cure before shaping the blank. Short sprays of Starbond Accelerator will reduce this wait time.

While turning this hybrid buckeye burl bottle stopper, I discovered additional voids deeper in the burl and repeated the process while the blank was mounted on the lathe. I typically place an old rag or a scrap of wood under the object to protect the bed of the lathe from any glue drips.

Once the glue has cured, 3-5 minutes, I continue making light passes at the raised glue/coffee surface until the filling is flush with the surrounding surface. I then continue with a few more passes to cut just below my starting point so I can turn/cut away any of the excess glue that came in contact with the wood that did not need to be filled. This makes for an even coloring of the grains and wood tone.

Final steps is to sand, apply a CA finish and then polish. (There is a great tutorial on applying a Starbond CA finish by Pen Smith. Click here to learn more.)

Finished product with coffee and Starbond:

I hope this tutorial helped demonstrate how to turn a potentially failed project into something you can work with using different fillers and CA Glue. I’m sure the options are endless and I’d love to hear what others have tried and found success with. If you have any questions or would like to share your experiences/successes, please feel free to contact me on Instagram @socojoco, on Facebook www.facebook.com/socojoco/ or via email: socojocowoodworks@gmail.com

Happy turning!