"Gary, what do you use to fill holes, gouges, et al, since you refinish? Thanks! "
I use wood putty where I think it is needed. I use Bondo for large holes. For these doors I used wood putty from the container. After a couple of coats of amber shellac I painted over the light areas with a brown acrylic paint that was slightly darker than the wood was turning. Any paint that remained in dents got the paint treatment too. Basically I am trying to mask the light spots so that they don't draw the eye to them. I then applied another couple of coats of shellac and now the filled areas aren't that noticable.
Here are the finished doors;
Here is a close up of where the door knob hole was filled with Bondo. The hole was from a rim lock door knob and is above and right of the key hole which I am using for a thumb latch lock (which is what was used on this door in our house);
Here it is without the flash going off and how it looks in real light. The oxidation from the position of the rim lock looks worse than my repair. When the thumb latch lock is installed your eyes won't even notice the discoleration because the lock will draw the attention since it is unusual.
This is a close up of the two panel door to show how the finish is with a few dings and scrapes after shellac has been applied.
When you own a house that is this old you have to accept that the woodwork can never be perfect and will look some what distressed. My skill with a paint brush is the result of hobby related painting and so I am quite good at creating the illusion of a door that is in better condition than it really is! These doors are upstairs on the rustic side of the house and won't be seen by many people. Besides, I only know one person who will inspect doors and molding and notice the flaws on a room and that is me. I already know where the flaws are and I'm not talking!