How Do I Get a Deep, Rich Honey Color Finish on Maple

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Forum topic by FrankD posted 04-08-2010 03:48 AM 3301 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 2970 days

04-08-2010 03:48 AM

Topic tags/keywords: finish maple honey

Hi all,

I’ve been doing some experimentation on some nice maple plywood that I picked up at the local Menards. I just need the top 7 feet of the sheets so I’ve been playing with the extra foot I ripped off each panel. I’ve picked up some gel stains from Varathane and Minwax, some Cabot stain, and a can of Wipe-on Poly.

I’m pretty new to finishing and from what I’ve been reading I’ve picked about the hardest possible wood to learn on but I’ve been pretty lucky so far and not seen any blotching. The sanding level that the wood came home with seems pretty optimal for allowing in a nice even layer of stain and doesn’t have any sanding or planing marks so I don’t plan on messing with that more than I have to.

My question is more intrigue than anything else since I doubt I can get results like this without spending large amounts of money but I’m dying to know how you get a look like the middle of this sunburst:

Cherryburst Les Paul

How much of that is the character of the quilted maple and how much of that is their finishing process?

I’m guessing that it’s a combination of dyeing, oil and topcoat but I can’t imagine how to achieve it.



3 replies so far

View Ger21's profile


1074 posts in 3130 days

#1 posted 04-08-2010 04:13 AM

Water soluble aniline dye and laquer. Lots and lots of laquer. A lot of older guitars used Nitrocellulose laquer, which gives a bit more amber tone. for a warmer look.

That’s curly maple, not quilted, btw. Highly figured maple will always appear to have more depth than unfigured, though. But the aniline dye will not obscure the grain like stains will. It’ll just change the color.

If you want a sunburst, you’ll need to spray on the different colors.

-- Gerry,

View PaulfromVictor's profile


228 posts in 3344 days

#2 posted 04-08-2010 04:11 PM

Jeff Jewitt has a good write-up on finishing maple.

View woodspyder's profile


80 posts in 3629 days

#3 posted 04-11-2010 05:09 AM

Frank I recently made some drawers from maple and matching them to the cabinet took me several tries to get it close. It looks very similar to the middle of the sunburst pictured above.
I used Bullseye Amber Shellac, danish oil, and Paste wax.

1st coat mixed 50/50 amber shellac/mineral spirits or denatured alcohol whatever the label says.
2nd coat full strength amber shellac.
3rd coat danish oil.
4th coat paste wax.
Lightly sanding between coats.

You will need to play with the ratios to get the color right but it looks very similar.

-- Measure three times, cut twice.

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