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Repairing Damaged Newel on Banister



I have an old wooden banister that I am striping and going to stain and coat with a polyurethane.  It is approximately 80 years old and contains four layers of paint with a stain/varnish on the very bottom.  The issue lies in the first large newel.  Some time ago a previous home owner filled in a large damaged section of the newel with joint compound then painted over it. Of course I did not see this until I had the entire banister stripped.


First Problem

I plan on removing the old joint compound but what would be the best and most durable filler/epoxy to use to fill the damaged area in with?


Second Problem

The original wood has natural striations in it and filling in a fairly large section of the newel would show off as being a single color.  Is there any way to put similar striations in the repaired section?  There are a few larger spots on the face of the newel and almost an entire corner of it I need to fill.


Third Problem

Is the polyurethane/stain premix solution as good as using a separate stain then a separate polyurethane sealer?


Thank you for any help with this.


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Posted 2011-07-12T01:02:37+0000  by code1635 code1635

Hello Code1635,


As you have noted, there are several steps to completing your repair:


1) Joint compound is a water-based product and can be re-wet to remove. I would start by chipping or cutting away any large amount that will come off easily. Then simply mist on layer after layer of warm water and use a sanding sponge or synthetic scouring sponge to remove layers until you reach bare wood. The spray will keep you from applying so much water that the wood begins to swell ... a hair dryer set to low heat may also be handy if you see the wood begin to expand.


2) I have helped customers with this repair several times recently and it is not too difficult.


All Purpose Bondo will provide a hard, durable repair. Use the teeth of a fine bristle brush or comb to re-create the striations while the repair is drying (about 15-minutes working time). This is done by very lightly running the teeth over the putty and wiping the excess on a terry towel. You are not trying to make valleys, rather just enough indention in the surface (spaced approximate the same distant as the striations in the natural wood) to look similar to the wood.


You may find that gently re-smoothing the entire surface, after you create these indentions, will reduce the size of the valleys and peaks ... making the repair appear more like natural wood.


Now look carefully at the original wood and you will see that there is a base color to the wood and another color to the grain (or striations). Your job is to match the base color in paint and the grain color in faux glaze. This is am important step toward making your repair look like the original wood, so you may want to enlist the help of your Paint Associate.


Apply the paint to the repair and allow it to dry at least four hours. Then use a chip brush to apply the glaze in the direction of the grain of the wood.


The combination of textured All Purpose Bondo covered by the paint and glaze will re-create the look of the natural wood and set you up for the next step ... refinishing the newel.


3) Minwax Polyshades (stain and polyurethane in one) is designed for repairs just like this. It will absorb into wood, and cover the repair like a topcoat. Choose your color and sheen and apply the first coat ... the color should be similar (but no exactly the same) on both the wood and the repair after the first coat. Allow it to dry about six hours, buff sand with 220-grit sandpaper, and apply your second coat. Your color should even out across the entire piece.


The traditional process of stain followed by polyurethane will not be a good choice because the repair material and the natural wood will absorb the color at different rates ... making it difficult to match the color on both.


Shoot a "Before" photo, follow these steps, and then shoot an "After" photo to publish here so we can see your handy work and learn from your example.

Best Answer

Posted 2011-07-12T12:51:32+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL

I greatly appreciate your help,  I will show some before and after pictures when we finish. My only question is that I was looking into the 3m all purpose filler (which is kind of grey) and the Minwax stain/poly antique chestnut mixture.  The section I use the bondo on will have the glaze and paint background.  Do I not stain that bondo'd section and leave it as is and just stain the rest of the banister with the Minwax combo or do I stain everything including the bondo'd section with the paint/glaze?  Just checking because I did not think that the combo'd stain/poly would go over paint/glaze, however I have heard that it would accept a dark stain.


What type of Bondo do you recommend?




Thanks again!

Posted 2011-07-15T15:58:39+0000  by code1635

Good Day Code1635,


Thanks for the approved solution!


The 3M General Purpose Bondo will make a strong, durable repair.


The treatment with the teeth of the brush or comb recreates the texture.


The paint and glaze combines to cover the color of the bondo repair and make it look similar to the original.


And then the whole piece (including the repair) is covered w/ Minwax Polyshades.


These steps repair, recreate, texture, make the base color uniform, and create a final coating without show-thru ... a complete repair that only the discerning eye will notice.


Your piece should be durable as well as beautiful.


Again, thanks for the Approved Solution!

Posted 2011-07-17T13:06:42+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL
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