This weekend was more like chemistry class than shop time. I have been experimenting with finishes for the rotary cut bubinga (kevazinga) panels. If I could get a clear coat that did not change the raw wood color, I would be happy. But so far most of my choices have darkened up the raw wood. I am really looking for a clear wood finish that enhances the grain without darkening it. Or a decent coloring that keeps the contrast against the mahogany border without obscuring the grain.
In order to decide on a final finish, I created some test boards. Sanded thru grits 120-150-180-220. I was hoping that the sanding would “liven up” the board a little. After I did the initial veneer pressing, a lot of the figure seemed to become muted. Sanding did not impact the figure.
I have received some great input on finishing from Mr. Clippinger. I watched a few Charles Neil videos on youTube (ended up ordering his 10 disk series) and read through my Jeff Jewitt and Michael Dresner books.
So here is what I tried:
1. Oil only
2. Oil tinted with van dyke brown (making figure pop on the wood whisper)
3. Trans Tint bright red liquid dye, mixed in water to manufacturer baseline (2 oz dye in 2 qt water)
4. Trans Tint mahogany red liquid dye, mixed in water to double the manufacturers recommended strength
5. Aniline wine red powder dye, mixed in water
6. Aniline orange powder dye, mixed in water
7. First coat, water based black dye – sand back aggressively using 180 grit, followed by by bright red coat
8. First coat, water based brown dye – sand back aggressively using 180 grit, followed by bright red coat
I picked my favorite … which was approach #8 and then made a test board with various top coats.
1. Tung Oil
2. Wipe On Varnish
3. Spray Laquer
4. Water based Poly
To be honest, I am not happy with any of the results:
- The tung oil (pure tung oil) as well as BLO, darkened the natural wood too much for me
- I am not enthralled by the coloured finishes
I think I will try with another scrap board next week by first scraping the wood to bring out the grain better, followed by a few different types of clear coats – water based poly, brushing lacquer etc …
Any inputs or opinions are welcome.
-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn