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keeping light maple light while enhancing figure?

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Forum topic by JeffP posted 05-27-2015 11:38 AM 770 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JeffP

573 posts in 851 days


05-27-2015 11:38 AM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing maple

I have a bunch of curly soft maple. Even though it is soft rather than hard maple, in its native state this batch is just as “white” as other hard maple I have seen.

When I finish it with ‘natural’ danish oil and then wipe-on poly, it looks nice, but is significantly darker than I want.

What should I use before the poly to bring out the figure without making the average color of the wood darker?

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.


10 replies so far

View conifur's profile

conifur

955 posts in 611 days


#1 posted 05-27-2015 12:29 PM

I have used a 50/50 mix of boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits, it will darken it a bit, but brings out the grain, as always, try on a sample and see if you like it. Also water base poly is the clearest non darkening/yellowing finish.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1829 days


#2 posted 05-27-2015 12:55 PM

You could try aniline dye. You could apply the dye, and then sand back. You could sand back enough to let the natural whiteness of the maple show through, while still leaving the dye in the figured pores. A water-based topcoat (one that’s designed to stay clear, they aren’t all that way) would work well.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View FellingStudio's profile

FellingStudio

93 posts in 1142 days


#3 posted 05-27-2015 01:55 PM

In order to “bring out the figure” you are going to have to darken the wood. That’s just the way it works … the figure is caused by the wood twisting this way and that as it grows giving you little bits of end grain next to face grain. End grain will absorb more of your finish/stain/dye than the face grain.

As far as products to try to minimize darkening, and still get some pop. Try a blonde shellac. If that doesn’t get you the pop you want, try an amber shellac. Stay away from the BLO. And, as has already been said, the right water based poly will give you the clearest result.

As always experiment on scrap.

-- Jesse Felling - http://www.fellingstudio.com

View JeffP's profile

JeffP

573 posts in 851 days


#4 posted 05-27-2015 01:59 PM



In order to “bring out the figure” you are going to have to darken the wood. That s just the way it works … the figure is caused by the wood twisting this way and that as it grows giving you little bits of end grain next to face grain. End grain will absorb more of your finish/stain/dye than the face grain.

As far as products to try to minimize darkening, and still get some pop. Try a blonde shellac. If that doesn t get you the pop you want, try an amber shellac. Stay away from the BLO. And, as has already been said, the right water based poly will give you the clearest result.

As always experiment on scrap.

- FellingStudio

Can you elaborate on “Stay away from the BLO”? Somebody else thought it was a good idea to try that. What downside would you expect from BLO?

thanks.

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1829 days


#5 posted 05-27-2015 02:03 PM


Can you elaborate on “Stay away from the BLO”? Somebody else thought it was a good idea to try that. What downside would you expect from BLO?

thanks.
- JeffP

BLO will work fine on figured woods, but if you’re looking to maintain the white character, it’s not the best idea. It will impart a yellow/amber tone to the maple. His suggestion of a blonde shellac is a good one to try. You can even combine suggestions and do a light dye, sanded back, and then seal the dye in with a blonde shellac. If you need a more durable finish than shellac, use a dewaxed shellac and topcoat with WB.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View AZWoody's profile

AZWoody

693 posts in 683 days


#6 posted 05-27-2015 05:15 PM

Check this video out on Woodworker’s source.

I was doing some research on a project I am going to work on for my wife and this is a guide on curly maple.

http://www.woodworkerssource.com/blog/tips-tricks/awesome-wood-finishes-curly-maple/

View FellingStudio's profile

FellingStudio

93 posts in 1142 days


#7 posted 05-27-2015 10:54 PM

Like Ed said, BLO is pretty yellow.

I have learned to love shellac. It is easy to work with and repair, the biggest problem with it being getting alcohol on it, so it’s not good for table tops. It also happens to be a great seal/base coat because just about everything sticks to it.

One of the downsides to BLO or any oil based finish is the long dry/cure time. So, if you are mixing finishes (ie BLO, then a water based poly) you have to give it a good long time to dry.

Just about any finish will bring out the figure in wood. The big variables that you are choosing from are ease of application, cure time, and durability.

-- Jesse Felling - http://www.fellingstudio.com

View JeffP's profile

JeffP

573 posts in 851 days


#8 posted 05-28-2015 12:15 AM

I bought some bullseye sealer (de-waxed shellac) a few months ago and haven’t used it yet.

I guess I will rub some on a test piece of this maple tomorrow and see how I like it.

Thanks all for the great responses.

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View AandCstyle's profile

AandCstyle

2561 posts in 1716 days


#9 posted 05-28-2015 12:48 AM

Jeff, take a look at Target's WR4000 Clear Base. I would then clear coat it with Target’s EM9000SC. Test on sample boards and if you like you can add a bit of dye to the WR4000 base to get the grain pop to your liking. HTH

-- Art

View saltcod's profile

saltcod

69 posts in 612 days


#10 posted 05-29-2015 02:39 PM

I put oil and water based polys on a piece of maple ply last week and the water-based one was just beautiful. Warm and crystal clear. The oil-based was darker and cloudier.

4 coats of water based with sanding at 600 between each. Beauty.

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