Q & A: Knot Repair
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.
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.