|Forum topic by SouthpawCA||posted 01-12-2010 01:38 AM||9101 views||4 times favorited||5 replies|
01-12-2010 01:38 AM
I’ve read a lot about popping the grain, but most of the articles were using birdseye, curly, or some other maple. I also bought a book on finishing where they attempted to address just how to do it, but didn’t go all the way. Most articles were also concerned about protecting the surface with polyurethane etc. I wanted to pop the grain on a number of pieces of black walnut that are totally decorative raised panel inlay. What I’m building is a fireplace surround that will eventually hold the new TV. The new mantle will be built of red oak with the inlay in a mission/craftsman style. I’m hoping the only wear it gets is from people touching the wood to see how smooth it is.
I initially followed the example in the book and other places where it told me to put a minimum of 3 coats of oil (BLO) – more is better. After 3 coats I noticed the grain was no longer really popping, the wood was just getting darker which really wasn’t the look I was going for. I let the pieces sit for awhile to work on other parts of the project. I also took a class in finishing put on by our local woodworkers club.
At the class, which was really about French Polish, I saw the look I sorta wanted on a practice piece. The piece was sanded to 220 and the pores were filled with plaster of paris (P of P). After the P of P dried over night (actually the next week) it was again sanded to 220 and the first coat of BLO was brushed onto the piece making sure the end grain and other areas that soaked it in had plenty of BLO and keeping an eye on it where additional BLO should be added because of the soaking in factor. The white of the P of P was gone. After about an hour the piece was lightly sanded, but not enough to really remove the BLO from the grain, but to create a slurry again filling the grain. Then another coat of BLO was brushed on and the piece was set aside to dry for about a week.
After sanding the walnut with the 2 coats of now hard BLO with 320/400 grit the piece was uber smooth. He then proceeded to brush on 3 coats of blonde shellac letting each coat dry which only took a few minutes between coats. He then let that dry overnight, but here is where I stopped with my pieces.
To go with the mission look I wanted to see the pores of the walnut but not really feel them. The most important part was I wanted to pop the grain. I did the 2 coats of BLO sanding the last coat into a slurry and then left to dry for about 5 days. The slurry sorta filled the pores but not completely like the P of P. When dry, I sanded lightly to 220 started brushing on the blonde shellac. The first coat of shellac started to really show the grain, the 2nd even more. I put 4 coats of shellac on because I was having so much fun. HOWEVER, after being allowed to dry overnight, my wife though it looked way too much like a finished glossy tabletop (and I hadn’t even done the actual french polish thing with the rag yet!). So, I had to knock down the shine a bit. I started rubbing with 1500 grit woodturners abrasive. I went thru each of those grits to 12000 and achieved the finish I was looking for and the wife is happy. The grain on the walnut really pops and the face of each of the raised panels is uber smooth. I’ll be posting pictures sometime soon. I probably didn’t really have to do all that hand rubbing, but it was interesting to see the gloss be totally knocked down and then slowly bring it back up with each of the woodturners grits until I was satisfied with the gloss that I wanted, not some company’s generalization of what a finish should be.