Finishing Birch Toy Box

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Forum topic by pete79 posted 10-21-2009 05:14 PM 1716 views 1 time favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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154 posts in 3345 days

10-21-2009 05:14 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing question

Well I’ve been working on a heirloom toybox/blanket chest for my kids for the past month and I’m getting close to being ready to apply the finish. The toybox is made of a combination of solid birch and birch ply. My goal is to have all the legs and cross member pieces of a dark golden or brown color, with the side panels left as a natural very light birch color. Here’s a link to what I am using as my inspiration for the project:

So here’s the question – I believe that finishing birch is similar to maple in that blotches are a main concern (please correct me if i’m wrong). I just finished reading a lengthy forum on finishing some maple pieces that ended with this approach:

1.Sanded to 220.
2. Spray the dye.
-I mixed 5 oz of water, 5 oz of denatured alcohol, and about 100 drops of tint.
- Put in my smallest tip to the sprayer and after practicing, sprayed the color to my dresser and drawer fronts. The dye dries really quickly but I sprayed the pieces to what seemed to be a uniform color of sort of a dark burnt orange color.
3. spray the seal coat of shellac/denatured alcohol (mixed 1:1)
4. spray the minwax oil based stain – I sprayed the stain so that it was a thin layer ( I was planning on toning after this step) that was reflective to light, I immediately wiped off. There was not much to wipe off at this stage.

I’m curious about three things here:

1. Is the tinting process truly needed, or would a dark stain applied after a shellac/denatured sealer do the trick?
2. Conversly, would a similar process of tinting, followed by sealing with shellac/denatured, and finally a clear poly coat work well? Is sealing even necessary in this case if finishing with poly.
3. Preference – sprayed or wipe-on on poly???


-- Life is a one lap race.

3 replies so far

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 3970 days

#1 posted 10-24-2009 03:47 AM

I can see just by reading your question that you know a hell of a lot more about finishing than I do. I don’t have an answer for you you, but I think if we can get your question back toward the top, some of the experts will be able to give you some advise.

View a1Jim's profile


117342 posts in 3781 days

#2 posted 10-24-2009 03:55 AM

Use a 1 lb cut of shellac to help control blotching after a quick scrub with 400 and then apply the stain then poly after dye is dry.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View pete79's profile


154 posts in 3345 days

#3 posted 10-24-2009 04:15 AM

Thanks guys. I started the finish today, and here’s what I did:

Sanded everything to 220, then put on a thin coat of SealCoat at a 1lb cut. I let this dry for about 30 minutes and then applied General Finishes Gel Stain in “Candlelight” color. This came out looking better than I could have hoped for, and was ridiculously easy. Thanks to Marc (aka WoodWhisperer) for the idea – I got it from watching a video on finishing blotchy woods on his website.

I’m letting this all dry before putting on the poly coat. My only choice now is Arm-R-Seal Oil/Urethane wipe on, or Rockler’s Wipe-on Gel Poly. I have cans of both, but can’t decide which one to use.

-- Life is a one lap race.

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