Is there a lazy man's UV protected finish for maple?

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Forum topic by soob posted 08-26-2015 12:26 AM 1038 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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266 posts in 1234 days

08-26-2015 12:26 AM

I love the way maple looks when it’s freshly cut, but it seems that light makes its color dull or brown over time. Used to just finish with wax, but that obviously doesn’t do much to protect from light. I assume it’s light since the inside of a box stays white while the outside doesn’t. Now I like to use a friction polish with shellac because it imparts a nice shine very easily, but, again, as far as I know it doesn’t do anything to protect the wood’s color from light.

I’ve seen it suggested to use a marine/spar/exterior varnish or polyurethane, but I also frequently see people complaining that typical exterior varnishes tint or stain light colored woods. I don’t feel like buying one of each and testing them out, so I was wondering if anyone had a recommendation for a specific brand, or a specific process. My plan would be to to wipe on a coat or two of dilluted clear uv protecting varnish (or whatever), and then just put shellac over it. Shellac generally adheres to anything, after all. Or maybe the other way around, using the shellac as a base. Or do I just buy the right wax and apply that over the shellac?

Any ideas or suggestions are greatly appreciated. I really don’t like spraying finishes if I can help it, and I hope the answer’s not “brush on a coat of spar varnish every day for a week” or something like that. Thanks in advance!

P.S. I figure this is a turning specific application rather than a general finishing question, so I posted it here.

8 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile


4765 posts in 2377 days

#1 posted 08-26-2015 04:47 AM

There is no Holy Grail.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18290 posts in 3701 days

#2 posted 08-26-2015 05:26 AM

Try this, they claim to have the best UV protection

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4999 posts in 2519 days

#3 posted 08-26-2015 11:40 AM

Pretty much what Bondo said, there is no holy grail and you’ll have to choose what’s more important of the properties you want. That said, waterborne finishes are naturally water clear; and stay that way (color fast). Some of them have a coloring agent added to mimic oil based finishes, so those are out. But one like General Finishes High Performance Has UV inhibitors and seems to be water clear (even “water clear” creates a slight shift in the maple) and may be as close as anything to what you want.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2658 posts in 2947 days

#4 posted 08-26-2015 12:53 PM

It is clamed by some that the best UV protection is in paint. You can buy paint with this protection and not color it. It will then go on white and dry clear. Acrylic dries clearer than oil does, in my experience.

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

View CharlesA's profile


3329 posts in 1823 days

#5 posted 08-26-2015 01:18 PM

This is an image of a piece of scrap maple. There are two pencil marks at the top to separate the three samples. In the middle is bare maple. On the left is Satin Arm-R-Seal (I think the pic makes it a little darker than real life). On the right is High Performance waterborne poly. Pretty dang clear. You can use a foam brush or a pad to apply it. On a large flat table surface, I think spraying is the only way to go, though. But with a turning, you can use brush or pad.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View soob's profile


266 posts in 1234 days

#6 posted 08-26-2015 04:59 PM

Thanks for all the responses. I am going to give the “High Performance” poly a shot. I’ll try to remember to report back in five years or whatever to see how it’s held up.

View Wildwood's profile


2322 posts in 2160 days

#7 posted 08-26-2015 08:32 PM

Many wood species darken with age and some actually get lighter whether have direct or indirect sunlight regardless of finished used. I have stuff finished with various products turned over tewnty years ago that still have no color change.

Most oil base (shellac, lacquer, varnish or poly and some water base resins will impart an amber hue and tell you right on the container. With some products will hardly see much difference while others difference very pronounced.

There are exceptions with some shellac flake mixes, and clear water based products like Minwax Polycrylic and others.

Only times need to use more than one finishing product on clear wood. If suspect silicone contamination (refinishing) and want to seal the wood. Have stained the wood and want a sealer coat or applying sealer coat before staining. Using two different species of wood and don’t want darker wood color bleeding into lighter color wood.

Basically saying don’t make more work than have to if not necessary.

I always buy a Gloss finish because can always take back some sheen without losing clarity, your mileage might vary. So if want to keep as much original wood tone as possible read the product label. If don’t want to fool with shellac flakes get a water base product like polycrylic.

-- Bill

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3768 days

#8 posted 08-26-2015 10:53 PM

Some of the ‘Water white” lacquers don’t yellow… as well as many water base systems.

But the UV blockers are only going to slow the process down… not stop it completely.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

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