Tear out in pine.

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    I’m making the sofa table and am currently doing the table top. I have planed the glued up boards smooth and it’s looking quite good apart from three small areas of tear out around some knots. I figure there is a few ways to tackle this problem your advice would be gratefully accepted.

    I intend to finish it with 2/3 coats of gloss polyurethane.

    1. Use wood filler, sand/plane smooth and then finish.

    2. fill with epoxy, sand/plane smooth and then finish.

    3. leave them as they are and fill with the finish.

    I have tried carefully planing and scraping around these areas but I can’t make them look any better. Any other ideas would be great.



    It looks like those knots are fairly small and tight. I would have a go with a super sharp, very lightly set plane. If you have the oil in a can i find that helps as well with sappy / knotty areas.
    Myself i would avoid using wood filler, just never looks right to my eye.
    Good luck however you decide to proceed.

    Ontario, Canada


    If you can’t avoid tear-out with your plane, you might try and nice, sharp card scraper — I’ve had better luck with mine, specifically around pine knots.


    As above. When working with pine your tools need to be super sharp all the time, because the wood is soft it tends to tear if the iron is not sharp. Set your cap iron as close as you can and take light shavings skewed to the grain. The knot you show in the 3rd pic needs some stabilising as its a dead knot, cover the knot with superglue and allow to cure before planning the surface this will keep it from dropping out over time.

    Good luck



    Thanks guys. That was supposed to be the top and I’ve still got the shelf to do so if that turns out better I’ll use it instead. Thanks for the tip about the dead knot Matt I’ll have a go with the super glue tomorrow. I’m thinking I’m going with the epoxy plan for the rest of the tear out.


    Try a small plane (block ideally) with a toothed plane, just planing the knot area. Then go back over the same area with a freshly sharpened,lightly set small smoother and you will be impressed with the results! Same toothed blade with a scraper is second choice.


    If you are still looking for options, slight york bevel to the standard number has been very good for me dealing with pine tear out. Better than a scrapper really, card scrappers have not been as good as I would like on pine or other similar softwood.

    Tuscloosa, Alabama
    Lung T'an Hu Huesh Kung-fu Woodshop


    If it were me I would just use some sandpaper and fingertips to smooth it a bit and then put on the finish. I think it will be pretty smooth with a couple coats of finish.

    Sharp plane would work too, but that last pic looks like you would have a good bit to remove if you go that route, which is why I’d just sand it.. Here is a box I made almost 2 yrs ago with a knot that is right off the plane with a close set cap iron. This was before applying shellac


    A lot of good advise on how to avoid it in the future. To my eye it looks like its too deep to fix. I use epoxy often but in this case I would try an inlay/dutchman to repair it. Because of the dark knot in light wood the eye will will be drawn to that spot everytime you look at it.

    David B

    You said you don’t want to use filler (or someone said it), but I agree, those are fairly deep spots of tear-out right around the knot and I’m not sure that you’ll have much success cleaning them up given there is still prominent knottiness there. Perhaps mixing sawdust with glue to fill it in and then use your scraper to get it as smooth as possible? You may just need to make a compromise here…

    Bic Parker

    Look forward to some character in the finish and smile as people admire it. A nice finish should make this nice. I would dress it first with a very very thin planing to smooth the knot. If you use something like a shellac and dye finish, the dye will go more deeply into the little ruts and darken them. The shellac will somewhat fill them a bit too. This is pine with knots. It goes with the territory.

    Arthur Coates

    In addition to the above, I will add a few suggestions: the best fix to the above is careful stock selection. Second, attempting to orient the knots in areas which are unseen or less obvious when doing layout. Thirdly, for instances which confound the sharpest, lightest set planes, york pitch and scraping – abrasives are still effective.

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