Home>Discussions>INTERIORS>Living Areas & Workspaces>Dealing with dried out wood - how best to repair, fill and match?
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Dealing with dried out wood - how best to repair, fill and match?

I have already reputtied and reglazed a bunch of our house windows, but only on the windows that were painted inside and out. I am now about to work on the wood stained windows which are in bad condition (I think someone decided in the 1950's or 60's to cover them with aluminum storms rather than repaint and putty).

I have no problem reglazing and repainting the exteriors, but dealing with the interior side of the window has me a bit stymied. The first floor woodwork looks like this:

The wood on the windows has dried out and the finish has dulled from UV exposure sort of like this:

And where it isn't dried out terribly, it is very rough and unattractive:

The questions I have are these:

If I need to fill in the wood, what filler should I use?
How do I match the filler to the wood and then stain to match, not only the filler but also any sanded areas?
I am currently thinking shellac for finish, but was the original finish varnish?

Any hints or ideas greatly appreciated.

Re: Dealing with dried out wood - how best to repair, fill and match?

First of all you will never get a wood filler to match the current stain of the windows. Whether you use a typical stainable wood filler or a pre-stained wood filler it will never quite match. Any dents or small holes are just part of the character of the house and once you refinish they will tend to blend in. I own a building built 98 years ago with 210 windows and have redone most of them. Your second photo shows the condition of most of the windows on the south side of my building. I usually sanded it out and then treated it with tung oil, rubbed in until the wood would not accept any more oil. You can also sand it and stain it to match the color of the other parts of the window, leave it natural, poly it or shellac it. Pick whichever process works best for you.

Re: Dealing with dried out wood - how best to repair, fill and match?

Just sand, sand, sand, and then shellac, shellac, shellac.
Odds are that shellac was the original finish; to test, see if alcohol dissolves the finish; yes = shellac.
I buy clear shellac already mixed (Zinsser "sealcoat") but for dark shellac I mix my own in alcohol from flakes. Garnet shellac is a rich reddish antique tone, and it is dewaxed, so it stores well and does not have any drying issues; all dewaxed varieties, which includes sealcoat, have a better water-resistance; the don't seem to get white rings from glasses set on them.
Your color seems yellower, so perhaps "lemon shellac" flakes would render the closest color match.

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