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Filling - How do you do it?


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First off, I'm cleaning up the hull planking on my Niagara build. Mostly sanding at this point but I can see I may need to level out a few spots and fill a couple of places where planks don't lay square. The hull will be painted.

 

Secondly, I have no desire to get the hull "smooth as a babies behind". Wood is imperfect. The shipwright (me) is imperfect. To me some imperfection adds to the realism of the model. To a point.....

 

There's a number of posts here on WHAT to use for filling our woodwork - hulls, decks,etc. I've tried a few and am not overly impressed with any of them - spackle, glue & sawdust, Elmers. They don't spread well - seem to want to dry out before I'm done applying. Then I got to thinking probably that imperfect shipwright may not know what he is doing.

 

So this is a long winded intro to the question - HOW do you work your filler? How do you apply it? How much do you apply? What do you use to sand it? How much do you leave?

 

As a sidebar, since I don't want to fill every nook & cranny, what about just using 4 or 5 coats of primer for filling? Seems like it would level out in the low spots and fill enough of the plank edge spaces to give me the look I want.

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I've tried a few and am not overly impressed with any of them - spackle, glue & sawdust, Elmers, means wrong mix

 

They don't spread well - seem to want to dry out before I'm done applying  means not enough glue

 

How much do you apply, enough to cover, take off the excess, let dry, sand

 

The shipwright  is imperfect, to be perfect, he needs to practice more than one time

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The glue/dust paste that I made dried so hard that it is not sanding off well - a good testament to it's adhesive qualities, but not what I am looking for in a filler.

 

I went back and tried the Elmer's filler (the purple to clear) again. Although it still wants to dry out (and then ball up) that seems to be what is working best. I need to get my spreading technique down.  I would like to try to thin it out a little but I can't tell from the label if the stuff is water or solvent based.

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I use the water based Elmer's.  The first thing I do is put some of the Elmer's into a small jar and add water.  Add the water slowly until it is the consistency you like.  I usually make one jar the consistency of thin paste and another thin enough to paint with a brush.  I also like some imperfection and do not work for a glass finish.  Even so it may take two or three applications to fill some areas.

 

Bob

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be careful with modeling paste or Gesso. If has marble dust in it . It will be very hard and almost impossible to sand. If you need to fill in hollows from poor fairing I'd use a water base spackle first dampening the wood with water to help it adhere well to the wood. Then once you've achieved your filling and fairing you could scribe in plank seams and wood grain to get the character back. A pallete knife works well for spreading filler or if you're covering a large area a body shop plastic spreader works well.  Bill

Edited by reklein
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You are building POB? 

The first layer of planking is thin, moulds are far apart, there is no filler between the moulds to provide support, so there are hollows?

Try Bondo. 

For gaps, wood flour mixed with PVA  works well. For large surface areas, it is difficult to sand = the necessary properties that make it a good adhesive keep it from being brittle enough to sand easily.

If it is you final layer of planking, and you are going to paint it, scab a layer of very thin veneer wood on the low areas and sand that down.  If you use a veneer with a similar pore structure, it will look the same when painted.

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Some great thoughts there!

 

Bob, I would love to get the filler thin enough to brush on. If the Elmer's purple is water based that should be easy enough.

 

Bill, wetting down the surface makes a lot of sense. That seems to be one of my problems. The Elmer's just doesn't want to stay put.

 

Jaager, it is a POB kit but only 1 planking. I like the idea of adding a veneer to low spots. I've done that for other parts, why not the hull? I've cut paper thin strips with my table saw so that would not be difficult.

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I can heartily recommend NOT Gesso.  It works fine for the underlayment for paintings, but really sucks trying to sand down on a boat.

If the filler is balling up while sanding, it may not be dry enough.  Wait until you can't smell it even a little bit.  If there are storms in your area, it may take a few days to totally dry.

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Joel, the balling up is when I was applying it. I have a tool that looks like a tiny knife blade. I take small dabs of filler and start spreading it like butter. Starts out OK but after about 20 seconds if I'm still spreading it starts wanting to roll up instead of spread out.

 

I did try Bill's suggestion of wetting the surface first and that does seem to help. Have not yet tried Bob's idea of getting it to a 'paintable' consistency. Either way it is starting to look like the filler needs some thinning - not wet enough.

 

Given the look I am shooting for, I'm still thinking I can let the primer do some of the filling. I will be airbrushing that, so a few coats should help. It's not like the hull would leak like a sieve if I put it in water. Most of what I am filling are hairline gaps that are seen if I hold the hull up to a light.

Edited by mikiek
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I may have found the ticket - at least for me.  Wet down the surface to be smoothed. Using my putty applicator tool (it's not a putty knife) I spread Elmer's purple filler as best I can. I don't worry too much about an even application at this point. Then I stick a paint brush in water and with the wet brush, 'paint' the filler over the surface. All the lumps smooth out and depending on how long I brush an area I can get a thick or almost veneer-like layer. It's very even and smooth and sands out nicely. The only downside is it takes several hours to dry out.

 

This is kind of a combination of several suggestions from this thread so thanks to all for teaching!

Edited by mikiek
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I have in general found fillers etc to be just a nuisance.

But I am talking here simply about POB and usually two layer.

 

The first planking layer does not need to absolutely gap free - you are not building it to be water tight !

I am NOT a good modeler  my work is adequate for me but I would rather spend a bit of time SHAPING the wood then filling gaps.

I also am an heretic I think you can get away with most builds without filler blocks - again too much hassle.

I spend my effort on soaking, bending and drying to get the shape and curve right without highs or hollows.

  If youkeep your eyeball active while you are doing this then you can guard against deviations

 

THEN trim the panks to fit - chamfering the edges can make a huge difference.

 

 If I have a gap or two then either its wide enough to slide in a shaving or I ignore it

If you still  have a hollow  well then sand it to a good shape and stick thin strip (or veneer as some one suggested)on top and resand

 

 

Heres my present "stalled" build - little Pickle

http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/8650-hm-schooner-pickle-by-spyglass-caldercraft-164-scale/?p=366593

just needs a bit more sanding

 

and an old build - cant remember whether it is a Fly or Pegasus at the end of first layer

post-905-0-49849900-1463999638_thumb.jpg

 

And remember I give you no BS or false modesty I really am a poor modeller but just care means no filler

 

 Once you have the first layer right then just spend that extra time shaping and chamfering the strips for the second- filler is HORRIBLE!  The reality is that very rarely does it give you the result you want

 

 

The

Edited by SpyGlass
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I am laying walnut as a second planking to my brig, I as such use walnut coloured wood filler thinned down with water to a slightly thickish paste, not too thin to be unable to have it lay. I give the filler roughly five minutes to settle and then I gently sand using one of those flexible rubbing down pads that are all soft and easy to form into a rubbing down shape. Once I have the filler as I want it I then pull a Stanley blade along the work area to bring it as level as I can with the planks above or below.

 

I got to the stage where I do not wait until the whole planking process is done before looking at issues, I lay a plank, sort it out and once I am happy I lay the next one. It will save me a headache in the long term trying to sort a lot out rather than a little at a time. I see the point that ships were not perfect lines ect, but as a model I think they look a lot nicer when well rounded as such as their size shows up everything too much.

Edited by Telp
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I just use all purpose poly filler (the one you use to fill cracks in brick walls).

 

After applying and drying, I file the hull till excess is off.

 

Works like a charm, first layer planking hull is nice and smooth to the touch.

 

 

For the second layer planking, I am going to use Mastini's method, apply carpenter glue to cracks, and then file the hull, so filing fills cracks.

Edited by heksanol
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I get that. Painting fills in a multitude of evils. I suspect the primer/paint even acts as a filler to a degree. My planking came out reasonably well for a first build. There are no 'holes' to fill. Just some spots where I probably could have pushed plank edges closer together. Sanding got 90% of what I wanted to clean up. As I said in the OP, I'm not trying to fix a dent in a show car. I don't care for the glassy finish.

 

The wet paint brush thing I mentioned earlier is working out just fine for my needs.

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  • 1 month later...

I guess this proves there is a lot of way to skin this cat!  There is, however, a product made for the purpose that works wonderfully.  It's called "Interlux Surfacing Putty" (the old timers also call it "glazing compound") and can be purchased for around $20 a pint at any marine chandlery. (Other paint companies make it as well, I'm sure.)  It is intended for filling dents and dings (but not huge divots) when fairing boat topsides which are to be finished with gloss topcoat.  It is about the thickness of "thin peanut butter" and can be further thinned with acetone.  As it is acetone-thinned, it dries very quickly.  It will dry and skin over in the can if the can is left open long.  This can be cured if it happens by adding a small amount of acetone to the can, storing the can upside down overnight, and then stirring well to reconstitute the original thickness.  This stuff sands like a hot knife going through butter and will quickly fair in any defects.

 

I wouldn't be too quick to use Bondo, which is fine for metal, but is hygroscopic and can let go sometimes when used on wood.  Elmer's and filler has the drawback that Elmer's doesn't sand very well and will gum up paper quickly.  Epoxy and micro-balloons works well enough, but is messy and you have to fiddle with the epoxy mixing. 

 

One huge advantage of Surfacing Putty's ease of sanding is that you don't run the risk of sanding low spots into your surface while trying to fair the spot you've put it on. 

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  • 1 month later...

You might want to look at a product called System three quickfair fairing compound. It's a two part epoxy type product. Used on full size boats and model yachts. Available in boating supply stores or on Amazon. Pricey but Small size is available Can be mixed in very small quantities. Goes on like butter. Plenty of time to work with it. Dries in a couple of hours. Sands beautifully

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I use spackle for filling and leveling on first planking. If the spackle is drying out before it's properly spread, it may be because the raw wood is drawing out the water from the filler and making it dry and crumbly. I give the planks a thinned coat of varnish first which seals up the wood a little and allows more time to spread the filler. 

 

Dan.

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