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Finishing advise for Mahogany

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Forum topic by Mainiac Matt posted 09-09-2015 03:20 PM 864 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mainiac Matt

5989 posts in 1791 days


09-09-2015 03:20 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finish dye stain mahogany lacquer shellac general filler

Hi gang…

I’m finally getting back into my second daughters hope chest build, which is being constructed from WELL seasoned Mahogany (15 year old 4/4 deck board cut offs) and I need to get my finishing method planned out.

I’m looking for that classic museum piece deluxe Mahogany finish (or as close to that as I can produce).

After reading up on the topic I plan to fill the grain with a water based wood filler and am waffling between Goodfilla brand and Timbermate brand. I’m leaning towards the Timbermate as I can get it nearby at Woodcraft, but I’m not sure whether to get their Brazilian Cherry or Mahogany tinted filler. Any advice from folks with experience with these products is much appreciated.

I’ve read that sanding beyond 180 can burnish the wood and reduce stain absorption. Any thoughts?

To get the deep red/maroon color, I’m leaning towards General Finishes water based dye stain, but am not sure which color will get me there….
Empire Red?
Vintage Cherry?
or Merlot? (this one seems a little too dark)

I have de-waxed Shellac for sealing this (Zinsser Sealcoat) but am not sure at what stages to apply it.

and finally, I’m totally up in the air about what type of protective coat to apply. Considerations include:

1. The Hope Chest will likely not see wet glasses or food.
2. I have a compressor and HF HVLP spray gun, but very little experience spraying.
3. My shop is in the basement, though I do have 3 typical basement windows and a 4’ awning window. I can get pretty good ventilation with some box fans and room filter, but am concerned that this will not be sufficient to spray lacquer.
4. I have no experience with French polishing techniques.

Any recommendations for a glass smooth topcoat?

Somehow, I thought I was going to find that “insiders” would all use a standard cookbook for finishing Mahogany, but I haven’t discovered this yet.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!


14 replies so far

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

3020 posts in 1260 days


#1 posted 09-09-2015 03:50 PM

When I’ve used timbermate on mahogany, I use the plain stuff and use the dye stain to tint it. Since you’re already using dye stain, that can work pretty easily.

You probably already know this, but I’d take a scrap piece and make squares or strips with tape and make a sample board following each step of finishing short of french polish to make sure you get exactly what you want.

-- "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 Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

5989 posts in 1791 days


#2 posted 09-09-2015 04:09 PM

here’s a shot of the top to show the wood color.

am I nuts to die this a more reddish color?

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

4853 posts in 2275 days


#3 posted 09-09-2015 04:39 PM

Its hard to beat the natural color of mahogany, but sample boards will give you a better picture of what to expect.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

15661 posts in 2468 days


#4 posted 09-09-2015 05:26 PM

I recently used a mixture of early American maple and brown transfast dye on a small mahogany box I refinished. I used probably 70% early American maple (which is really a red color) and 30% brown. One coat brushed on with a sponge brush, then I let it dry, sanded it back with some 180 then brushed 2 coats of shellac over the top. Sanded that back with some 320 then did a quasi French polish over the top. Finished with a coat of conservators wax. Its came out buttery smooth.

I think timbermate would be a solid choice to fill the pores.

-- rock, chalk, jayhawk

View SirIrb's profile

SirIrb

1239 posts in 693 days


#5 posted 09-09-2015 05:42 PM

I am getting ready to finish two shaker tables I made from mahogany. I would drop the sand paper and get a card scraper. MUCH smoother. I did this on the tables and what I tried to do with hours of sanding I knocked out in an hour with a card scraper and it is nice.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

3020 posts in 1260 days


#6 posted 09-09-2015 07:01 PM

Everybody has their favorite finishes. I like Mahogany with an initial coat of natural Danish Oil, then one coat of red mahogany Danish Oil—adjusting how much of each to get the color you want. I think it is spectacular, but it doesn’t get that really bold red some folks like. I think it is a pretty “natural” looking mahogany color. Then can topcoat as you wish (with oil based topcoat).

-- "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 Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

5989 posts in 1791 days


#7 posted 09-09-2015 07:20 PM

Found an article with good illustrations on Woodworkers source.

Orange, brown or red….

I prefer the red myself. The orange looks too much like African Sapele. Brown is nice too though. These did not have the grain filled with anything else but wiping varnish applied cross grain. I’ll have to see which one my daughter likes.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

4853 posts in 2275 days


#8 posted 09-09-2015 07:33 PM

The brown is nice.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Roger's profile

Roger

19867 posts in 2266 days


#9 posted 09-09-2015 09:56 PM

Dyes and stains…. makes me hair stand up. But, when done right, they are awesome. I am no expert, actually I don’t know a darn thing bout stains n dyes… lol. Wish you luck. I’m sure whatever you come up with, will look grrr8.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. Kentuk55@yahoo.com

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

14940 posts in 2152 days


#10 posted 09-10-2015 12:21 AM

Matt, I’m a big fan of Timbermate as it is so easy to apply and sands easily. You need to add water and mix to the consistency of very thick latex paint. I use a credit card and apply across the grain (put more on than you would think). It will stain the wood somewhat depending on which color you use. It is cheap enough to buy 2-3 different colors and try on some scrap. Rubbed on shellac (ala Black Cherry’s blog) is my favorite finish. It is a lot more durable than people think.

Edit: That little jar of Timbermate will go a LONG ways.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

808 posts in 2312 days


#11 posted 09-10-2015 08:24 AM

+1 for Timbermate & dye before final stain coat and then either a wiping varnish ala Wood Whisperer, or even Arm r seal from GF which is near the same right out of the can.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

5989 posts in 1791 days


#12 posted 09-10-2015 01:10 PM

GF?

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View junebug's profile

junebug

100 posts in 1866 days


#13 posted 09-10-2015 01:20 PM

View Ghidrah's profile

Ghidrah

667 posts in 684 days


#14 posted 09-10-2015 05:54 PM

I’m a great fan of Tung oil and pretty much use it on everything.

-- I meant to do that!

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