Fixing surface flaws under a coat of poly


Finishing Gurus... a question for you.

I'm working on a dining table top made of cherry. After brushing on a coat of oil based polyurethane, I noticed (too late) some defects I need to repair. Question is this... is it possible to spot sand this one area, fix the surface defects, then recoat only this one corner of the table? Or will it be noticeable later? I want this thing to look right... should I just sand down the entire table top, fix it, and start fresh again? Thoughts?

thank you!


Go for spot sanding and repair defects. Then level repaired and un-repaired with 320. Then scuf sand entire surface and apply light coat to complete top.

Henry W

Senior User
EDIT I'm not a finishing guru. end EDIT
Using the process Michael describes above.... 'witness lines' can still show at the repair. With polyurethane, where each coat is a separate layer, the risk is ALWAYS there that repairs show.
If it were me, and the table were not stained - I would go straight for the complete refinishing of the top. I can't recall the specifics, but it seems like I have had the experience of trying the repair/recoat process described above, and still not being happy with the result. Of course user error could certainly be the cause in my case.
Anyways I guess all I 'm saying is that this is not 'fool proof' - I am the fool that proved that. So with an unstained top where more sanding is not risky... I would sand the entire surface and recoat the entire surface.
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Corporate Member
I have a similar problem a tiny tearout 1inch long x 1/8 wide and 1/32-1/16th deep. Was thinking of using shellac stick to fill before spraying the top coat. It is in a place where only I would notice, but it bothers me, anyone ever tried this ?


I've used thick CA glue to fill such small defects many times. It takes multiple applications but it's clear and not as noticeable as shellac sticks. When I've used shellac sticks I had to use sharpies to blend in the shellac with wood grain. I've even tried using multiple shellac colors with marginal success.
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Co-director of Outreach
Corporate Member
Carefull with CA glue. Some of it dosent get along with poly

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