Reply by Jonathan

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Posted on Curly Maple

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2608 posts in 3075 days

#1 posted 10-19-2011 10:48 PM

Typically, oils tend to darken wood more than lacquer, as Karson pointed out. From my experience, oils also tend to show a little bit more contrast in the grain of curly maple as well, compared to lacquer, I believe, due to the different rates of absorption between the varying grain structures, keeping in mind that oils tend to penetrate the fibers, as opposed to sitting on top of them and building a finish.

If you want to lightly “pop” the grain, have you considered using the dye technique? Something like Vintage Maple by Transtint works well. It’ll add a bit of depth and contrast to the color of the curl in the wood. The color can be controlled by: concentration of the dye and the amount of dye allowed to remain on the piece by either sanding most of it off, leaving most of it on, or somewhere in between.

If you use a couple of my projects as examples, you’ll see the differences, as all of these projects were made from the same stack of curly maple, so the raw boards were all pretty much identical, before the finish was applied. The differences are relatively subtle when looking at the pictures separately. Unfortunately, most of these pieces live with new owners now, so I’m not able to take any side-by-side pictures for you.

Vintage Maple Dye on Curly Maple Beer Bottle Balancer
Cutting Board with Salad Bowl Finish
Serving Tray with Salad Bowl Finish
Tray with Waterlox (oil-based) Finish
Bench with Danish Oil Finish

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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