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Finishing birds eye maple

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Forum topic by Purrmaster posted 04-01-2016 03:20 AM 699 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Purrmaster

914 posts in 1553 days


04-01-2016 03:20 AM

Topic tags/keywords: maple birds eye birdseye figure figured hard maple finish

Greetings!

I have a smallish piece of birdseye / birds eye maple that want to turn into a small table. The problem is that I can’t find a finish that makes the birds eyes stand out. Or at least stand out as much as I need it to.

I’ve tried the following:

Several colors of Minwax (oil) stain, boiled linseed oil, poly varnish, three different colors of Watco danish oil (black walnut, dark walnut, and natural), and several color combos of my ColorFX dyes (basically the same as transtint).

Nothing has worked so far. I see all these photos of birds eye maple where the figure stands way out and I just can’t get that.

I think that, in a way, I am actually trying to get the wood to blotch. Or at least blotch in a controlled manner.

The only thing I haven’t tried yet that I have on hand is shellac and tung oil.

Suggestions, please?


14 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3927 posts in 1953 days


#1 posted 04-01-2016 11:35 AM

The most difficult thing in finishing is describing the look you’re after, and some of the things you’ve tried is what i’ve done in the past and liked the look. Anyway, you could try the shellac, I would choose and amber or orange, but those are my tastes. Tung oil will look like the BLO you’ve already tried and dismissed. The last suggestion I would have is to try a dye. Maybe one of the brownish tints, apply and after dry sand it back back lightly and see if that makes the eyes stand out to your liking.

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

View Gerald Thompson's profile

Gerald Thompson

808 posts in 1695 days


#2 posted 04-01-2016 11:44 AM

Try the dye then immediately wipe it off. The dye will penetrate the eyes as they are more open pored. Repeat if necessary.

-- Jerry

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1056 posts in 1450 days


#3 posted 04-01-2016 11:50 AM

Is something like this what you are after?

View Purrmaster's profile

Purrmaster

914 posts in 1553 days


#4 posted 04-02-2016 10:07 AM

Assuming I inserted the images correctly, this is kind of what I’m looking for. Something where the birdseye’s really stand out.

I’ve tried a few more dye combos and it still isn’t what I want. I’m mixing up some shellac from flakes right now for tests on that.

I should probably add that the quantity of birds eye’s on this wood is not like the pieces above. There are less of them and they are more distributed. But they are there.

I may see if I can get a picture of the wood (sanded but unfinished) and put that up here.

To get rid of the finish tests I’ve been planing down the boards. I’m going to run out of wood if I keep doing that I have to choose something fairly soon.

I can’t find the stupid tung oil but I do have an unopened can of Sutherland Welles polymerized tung oil. Would that be worth trying?

Thanks!

View Gerald Thompson's profile

Gerald Thompson

808 posts in 1695 days


#5 posted 04-02-2016 11:03 AM

I use Sutherland Welles polymerized oil a great deal and love it. In fact that is the only tung oil I will use.

-- Jerry

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1056 posts in 1450 days


#6 posted 04-02-2016 01:05 PM

Have you tried a dark dye and sanded it back then a lighter color dye or finish over that? Just the right amount of color in a dye stain base or thinned poly or oil can do it in one step – takes experimenting as you have been doing, but sanding back a darker color is easier since you stop when enough has been removed. You might find this useful.

As you said blotching is what you want. The effect can be controlled by color intensity or sanding back.

View conifur's profile

conifur

955 posts in 612 days


#7 posted 04-02-2016 02:14 PM

What was your final sanding grit? You may have sanded too fine.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

686 posts in 1258 days


#8 posted 04-02-2016 04:51 PM

Here’s lacquer on Birds eye Maple.

View Purrmaster's profile

Purrmaster

914 posts in 1553 days


#9 posted 04-02-2016 09:27 PM

Aj2: I tried some lacquer and didn’t get results like that. Were you using nitrocellulose lacquer?

conifur: I tried a few different final grits. I tried it at 180, 150, and 220. Similar results.

It’s rather ironic, really. I usually try to find ways to prevent blotching in maple but now I find myself trying to create it.

The dyes I’m using aren’t soluble in mineral spirits/naptha/petroleum distillates. I tried that. They work in water, alcohol, and lacquer thinner.

Can someone recommend a color that I should be shooting for?

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conifur

955 posts in 612 days


#10 posted 04-02-2016 10:22 PM

I used a week mix of Trans tint Vintage Maple then a 50/50 mix of BLO and MS wiped it on let set for a few minutes, wiped some more on, let it set a a few, then wiped off any excess, let dry over night then oil base poly.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

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Aj2

686 posts in 1258 days


#11 posted 04-02-2016 10:48 PM

Yes Nitro lacquer,Maybe you didnt build enough coats to rubout.Its gonna take some time so you gotta be all in.Thats the great thing about lacquer the coats melt together.So you shouldn’t get the funky layers showing up like water based finishes.
I don’t see the need to dye figured woods.Seems like a lots of extra work,plus I don’t think I can add anything to mother natures work.

View ROB_IN_MN's profile

ROB_IN_MN

29 posts in 1607 days


#12 posted 04-03-2016 01:43 AM

View Purrmaster's profile

Purrmaster

914 posts in 1553 days


#13 posted 04-03-2016 04:55 AM

Aj2,

I just slapped some lacquer on it and will continue to coat it. I’ve used lacquer many times and I don’t think it’s blotching enough in this case.

So far the best candidate appears to be amber shellac. I’m wondering if I can put a drop or two of dye into it. I’m still waiting for the garnet shellac to dissolve.

I’m considering trying something weird like green or blue. I’m afraid if I dyed it weird colors it won’t look much like wood though.

View cdaniels's profile

cdaniels

1311 posts in 961 days


#14 posted 04-03-2016 09:56 AM

tung oil is the best thing to use on birdseye hands down

-- Jesus was a carpenter... I'm just saying

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