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How to disguise filler?

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So I just inherited a half done Grandfather clock, neighbor had it left in his house when he moved in and gave it to me to finish up or do as I wish.  The story I got was that the prior owner/woodworker was not happy with how it was turning out and threw in the towel and gave up on it.  Upon initial inspection last night the biggest problem I noticed that on a few spots he had tried to fix some poor glue ups with some kind of filler. biggest spot is on the raised panels on the sides of the top.   The wood is walnut, but he had used a light colored filler.  So what are my best options for getting this color corrected?  

A - stain the whole thing a darker shade of walnut (likely oil based stain)

B - Use a stain marker or even a Sharpie to color in just the filler then oil based poly or similar on the whole thing

C - go for a dye instead of a stain and hit the whole thing

D- Some how clean out all of this filler and refill with something appropriately colored (nervous on this one to just make it worse)

E - try to remove and replace the panels 

F - open to other ideas?





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Artists brushes and oils or acrylics are your friend.  When you are done with your overall finish you can touch up and/or blend irregularities with a small sable hair brush.  I keep a tube of  burnt umber, black, blue, red, yellow and white in a small plastic box with my small brushes.  I can mix these to match anything from figured maple to black walnut.  I got mine from someone who paints.  The small amounts left in her tubes have lasted me for years.  Once you have "painted" the fix on your topcoat will render it nearly invisible . . . depending on severity ;-)


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The danger with coloring the filler is that it may just absorb so much stain/dye that it darkens far more than the surrounding wood. It's a good idea to seal the filler first & then go at it with the brushes like @gee-dub said.

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I am strongly leaning towards going with paint as a salvage option here.  I just keep finding more spots of filler and don't want to spend too much time on this and still be disappointed in the finish or quality of the piece.  

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