Grain Filling?


I know you need to fill the grain on most softer woods. But I am in the process of making a tiger maple top guitar and am wondering if you would grain fill maple?  It is Tiger so it is soft but it does not look pourous at all.  On the other side, would it damage the wood to grain fill it even if not nessisary?

Maple doesn't need filling.  I doubt it would damage it, and it didn't do anything to the quilt that I messed around with.  But, if you want to dye the maple it will get in the way.  It is also a pain to sand down if it is not necessary.  Bottom line, I wouldn't put it on the maple because it is not necessary and creates more work.

Why does grain need to be filled?

What would happen if one applied finish to a "needing-to-be-grain-filled' wood without doing the filling?

If you want the surface of your finish to be a smooth mirror, you need to fill any wood grain. To a certain degree your finish will do that, but with any more open pored wood the structure of the wood will show through. That can be intentional and obviously in that case you wouldn't grain fill...
Grain filling is cosmetic but necessary to get the glassy smooth finish that we all expect with most woods. If a wood needs grain filled, you'll easily know because you'll see pores and seams running through the bare wood. Maple pores are so tiny it's a non-issue. Swamp ash has the biggest 'grain' issue. Some commercial mahogany guitars are not grain-filled - check the Gibson 'faded' series, the new Les Paul DC Specials in TV yellow, PRS 'satin finish' guitars.
This is swamp ash when it's not filled - I actually used a steel brush to make the grain stand out as much as I could, so here it's very much intentional. If you simply omit the grain fill you will probably wind up with a guitar that just screams 'amateur finish'...




I think I like that sort of raw look.  Don't know if I'd ever be brave enough to try it myself.... maybe after (if ever) I have some mainstream finishes under my belt.