I'm finishing a very rough piece of scrap wood for use as a tabletop and to practice applying polyurethane. I've since found that the holes and gaps aren't really "filled" by the material and that I should have used wood putty first.

I've already applied multiple coats of polyurethane. How can I address the surface to smooth out the gaps, gouges, deep scratches, and holes, before applying another coat?

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  • Could you please include some closer photos of the defects you're trying to improve? Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 0:53
  • I've updated my question with photos of various defects on the tabletop. These photos are after the fourth coat (still drying).
    – Zhro
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 6:00
  • It's much more common to address surface defects in wood before the first coat of finish goes on, although you can repair voids, dings and scratches in a completed piece, most or all of the above are definitely in the class of things better dealt with before finishing and not during or after. So, in short, for this I think you should accept that it's a rough piece of scrap wood you started with and leave it. You'll know better for next time.
    – Graphus
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 8:57
  • One other thing, you might benefit from learning about wiping varnish. There are numerous mentions of it here in various contexts so worth a search and doing a bit of reading, but this Answer will give the most comprehensive info.
    – Graphus
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 9:00
  • 1
    @Graphus, I think your comment is actually the correct answer for this question. What's done is done seems a reasonable answer here! Four coats of finish is pretty hard to walk back from.
    – user5572
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 18:03

2 Answers 2


Apply several coats of polyurethane in the recessed areas, using a small brush.

It will take you an obscene amount of time because you will have to wait for it to cure between coats. You will need to sand it back some between coats. Then when you are done, you will have to sand some of it to match the surface transition over the gaps. The final result should look good, though: it will have a transparent, epoxy-like finish.

This is a good example of why the unevenness should be addressed before applying the finish, much like how you want to put body filler on panels and sand them smooth before applying the paint, because paint does not fill holes very well (too thin).

Keep in mind that around the longer gaps, the height of the surface on either side of the gap might not be the same. Use a straightedge to quickly check for flatness across the gap.

Alternately, you can sand off some of the finish in the gaps and fill with colored epoxy or plain wood filler. You will not have to put as many coats to achieve desired flatness.


You should look up two-part Polly And if I had the peace do you have I would seal up the bottom side of the larger holes and divots ( if they go all the way through) with tape then fill to desired height with a clear epoxy something that cures rather quickly .,,then drop some small bits of turquoise in or some other rare Stone ( to take up space and accent that spot)and then two-part poly over the entire deal. Then sand smooth _ I don't recommend that you completely frame in your work piece but it would help to make a perfectly level end piece. If that's what your after .,. After sanding flat no more dimples holes or blemishes. You will have to put a very light last coat to bring it back to glass smooth.,,. I would not waste my time trying to make it glass Moon from sanding paper. It takes forever I've used quite a bit of polishing agents polishing compounds buffing compounds sandpaper down to 5000 wet .,. Still never brought it all the way back to perfect.

Two-part poly tips Make sure you put something under the piece to collect the drip. it will drip . When mixing two-part polyurethane mix it slow to avoid creating bubbles After pouring use a torch to pop any bubbles that you did , Make sure you do not overheat or cook the poly,,. it will happen shortly after it starts to smoke if you keep the flame on it Don't mix up more than you'll use ,, do not try to save it Use xylene to thin out Use acetone to clean

PS This is the first, I've ever commented to anything on the internet ever.,. So if I'm doing this wrong🤔 please disregard🤓👍 and have a good rest of your evening😁

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