Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Review of Aqua Coat Grain Filler and Festool Granat Sanding Sheets

Well, that qualifies as the longest title I've ever written... :)

Charles Neil gave me a can of Aqua Coat clear grain filler when I was in Tucson with him because he had been watching my sculpted Mahogany vanity series and though it would eliminate all the wet sanding.  At the time, I had only one panel remaining to wet sand so I didn't use the Aqua Coat fearing the panel would look different than the others.

In this review, I used Aqua Coat on an offcut of the vanity and compare it to an equivalent offcut that was wet sanded.  It definitely worked well and at a quarter the labor, possibly less.

While preparing the sample boards, I had a chance to pick up an assortment of Festool Granat hand sanding sheets from Tom Bellemare.  Normally it is sold in huge single-grit boxes, but Tom makes assortments by hand.  I chose the full assortment.  In the video, I compare using the Granat to Mirka hand sanding pads that I've been using for awhile.  Both work very well, but I suspect the Granat will last longer.  If the Granat sampler I had with the RO-90 is any indication, it will last a long time.


  • Unknown said...

    I used the Aqua Coat for the Padauk sides of a jewelry cabinet I made as a gift this past Christmas, and I have to echo your good review of it. Will probably be a part of the finishing for any porous woods I use.

  • Anonymous said...

    what type of festool systainer did you use?

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Always good to know when it works well for others, too, kingfinny. I've always wet sanded to pore-fill; my fingertips are happy the Aqua Coat worked so well.

    That's a T-loc Sys2 Systainer; Tom Bellemere has an option to get the Granat assortment in a Sys2 since it fits perfectly. I got it since I thought there'd be room for the other pads and sheets I have (but it was full!). Works better for me as I have an open shelf sized for a Systainer.

  • Georgio said...


    Great, great site! I am impressed with your style, knowledge and most of all... TOOLS! I can only dream of all those awesome tools you've got. Just wanted to say nice work and nice stuff.


  • HalfInchShy said...

    Thanks, George! So Marty had a very eloquent way to summarize how I got those tools: "ah, to be childless and single again". Tool-up before marriage, I say; that way it is a pre-existing condition :)

  • wall coat rack with shelf said...

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • Xela71 said...

    Hi Paul,

    Thank you for a very interesting and inspiering blogg,

    I'm trying to understand how you applied you finnish with the aquacoat, could you pleae explain in a simple list the order in witch you applied the products you used with aqua coat grain filler?

    Thank you very much,

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Hi, John,

    Applying the Aqua Coat is really easy. Here's the steps:

    1. Apply a few coats of finish and let it cure enough that applying a water-based product over it will be compatible. For example, when I coat over Arm-R-Seal (solvent-based finish), I give it 24 hours. If you are in a humid environment, maybe give it more. Basically if you can sand the finish with 600 grit paper and get white dust without gumming up the paper, you are good.

    2. Apply the Aqua Coat by putting it on and "squeegee"-ing the filler across the grains to fill them. Very little goes a long way since the pore are pretty small. Use your wife's credit card for best results :)

    3. Give Aqua Coat about 20-30 minutes to dry. There might be some outside the pores, but don't worry about it. Give a scuff sand with 600 grit paper to remove the Aqua Coat that is on the surface but not in the pores.

    4. Continue your finishing schedule with more coats of finish.

    Some notes: if the finish in step 4 is water-based, it will soften the Aqua Coat. For this, I'd recommend a quick seal coat of shellac then the finish. The shellac can even be from a spray can; that's usually what I use! If the finish in step 4 is solvent-based (like Arm-R-Seal or Seal-A-Cell or tung oil etc) then you don't need the shellac sealer.

    Hope that helps!

  • Anonymous said...

    If you know how I can get this in Canada please let me know. Thanks a lot.

  • HalfInchShy said...

    If you mean AquaCoat, I'd hope the site linked in the article would ship internationally. If not, try The Finishing Store.

    If you mean the Granat, contact Lee Valley; they sell most everything Festool and will likely have it even if it isn't listed on the web site. If not, Dan Clermont at Ultimate Tools in B.C. could easily help you out.

  • Joel_Spottoms_Harry said...

    Hi Paul,
    You turned me onto Charles' site. I noticed he's got an online finishing course and I could certainly use a bunch of help in that category. Do you know if its worth while? Thanks, Joel

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Hi, Junior,

    Charles knows a lot about finishing including a lot of crazy unorthodox tricks that work. He has a number of finishing DVDs and I've liked them all. He tends to roll with the camera so those DVDs could sometimes be better organized or structured, but the content is there.

    That said, I haven't seen his online finishing course. He used to teach a week-long finishing course in his shop that was popular. The online format just gets it out to people would can't take a week off and all the travel involved for the course.

    My guess is it will be interactive where each week's content is dictated by what needs to be covered and clarification of questions from the previous week. That could be very useful.

    So, he has the knowledge and has taught finishing countless times. I'd have great expectations.