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Finish on Cherry? Showing off curly figure while minimizing blotches.

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Forum topic by Ryan Brown posted 04-13-2010 03:25 AM 2434 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Ryan Brown

72 posts in 2657 days


04-13-2010 03:25 AM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing cherry question crib

Short version – I want to show off the curly grain in the plywood while minimizing blotching. I’d also like to use something with little to no odor because we want to put our 2 year old in this one ASAP before my second son is born in about four weeks. We really want to get my son into this crib as soon as possible so he doesn’t feel like his new brother is in “his” crib as much…

Here is my dilemma. I built the 3 in 1 crib for my son that was in Wood Magazine a few years ago. It’s turned out great! Now for the finish… I don’t want to mess up hours of work in 15 minutes with a bad finish so I’ve come to an impasse. It doesn’t help that my wife keeps changing her mind on the samples I’ve made up.

I’ve spent hours on TWW, Lumberjocks, Google and my local Woodcraft getting as much info as I can on getting the results I want. The plywood has a curly figure that I want to show off, but wiping the solid wood parts with denatured alcohol shows that there will be random blotchiness.

Suggestions?

Long version below.

Because this is a crib, and there is the possibility of chewing, and it needing to be odor free shortly after applying the finish. I’m pretty much set on a water based finish, General Finishes Polyacrylic to be exact. Since that dries water white, I’m experimenting on scraps with General Finishes water based Cinnamon dye stain, shellac and General Finishes pre-stain wood conditioners. See, the plywood parts have a curly figure that I would like to emphasize, but some of the hardwood parts have direction changes in the grain and wiping on some denatured alcohol shows that there will be a lot of blotching.

The water based wood conditioner doesn’t do much of anything for the figure. The oil based conditioner does highlight the curl some, but not as much as dye stain alone obviously. I really like the color I achieve with a conditioner then the dye stain on top, but the figure isn’t as obvious as the dye stain alone. BLO really makes it stand out, but I don’t know how long I’d have to wait before I put shellac over it and then my top coats. I’ve tried 4 colors of shellac on scrap that spent a week in the sun, and I really don’t care for any of them. The blonde shellac (1# cut) followed by the dye stain is lighter than the conditioner followed by dye stain, but doesn’t show off the figure as much as the oil based conditioner or the BLO.

Oil based poly and BLO alone look good, and I know that the color will darken with time, but I’m still concerned about curing time and an odor. But my wife wanted something that was darker now. Maybe I should just lock her out of the shop until the thing is finished.

In the Marc’s video “Pop Goes the Maple” I like how the dye brings out the figure, but with cherry I’ll also get random blotches.

So, here are the questions…

Can I put water based stain over top of an oil based conditioner? For example, the oil based conditioner says to wait at least 30 minutes, but not more than 2 hours before applying the stain.

How long would I have to wait to put shellac over the BLO?

Should I do different types of applications on different sections – i.e. dye stain on raw curly plywood, conditioner then dye stain on solid wood?

Anyone ever tint the topcoat with dye stain? I’ll experiment with that tomorrow.

HEAD…......GOING…......TO….......EXPLODE!!!!!

Any input, advice and suggestions will be appreciated!

Of course, I understand that everyone has differences in taste and opinions will vary. Pictures to follow eventually.

-- If you can't fix it with a hammer, you have an electrical problem. Roanoke, VA


8 replies so far

View davidroberts's profile

davidroberts

1025 posts in 2953 days


#1 posted 04-13-2010 04:33 AM

My best advice and something I’ve done is call General Finishes and ask what can (and cannot) be done with
their finishes. Since I’m a finishing klutz, I’ve called them twice, they KNOW THEIR BUSINESS, and were glad to help me.

“Can I put water based stain over top of an oil based conditioner? For example, the oil based conditioner says to wait at least 30 minutes, but not more than 2 hours before applying the stain.”

I would follow the directions to the tee. That said, I would definitely seal the stain with a coat or two of clear 1 lb cut shellac, then apply the water based topcoat.

“How long would I have to wait to put it over the BLO?”

Depending how thick you apply the BLO, you could wait 72 hours to a week. I would not trust 24 hours. Maybe 48 hour depending on humidity, temperture, etc. It the wood is dry, you may need to apply more than one coat of BLO.

“Should I do different types of applications on different sections – i.e. dye stain on raw curly plywood, conditioner then dye stain on solid wood?”

You are probably onto something and I’ve read the professionals discuss it, the key word being, professionals. I think you will get good results just sticking to one finishing schedule. One man’s humble opinion.

“Anyone ever tint the topcoat with dye stain? I’ll experiment with that tomorrow.”

Yes, I’ve added a few drops of transtint dye to shellac for a top coat. Transtint does not mix with Watco danish oil. Water based powered dyes mix with water based topcoat. But I would ask General Finishes about dying their WB topcoat. When you say “dye stain” are you referring to an alcohol or water based liquid or powder dye, or something like a Minwax stain?

My finishing results have been okay, your mileage may vary listening to me.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View Ryan Brown's profile

Ryan Brown

72 posts in 2657 days


#2 posted 04-13-2010 04:56 AM

Thanks David. I am anal and patient enough apply the sealer and stain on different parts of the wood to get the desired effect, but cherry being cherry, I’m also concerned about everything darkening to a different level if I do different finishes.

Maybe I should have made it out of mahogany, oak, maple, hickory, walnut… Something where I wouldn’t lose sleep over my finishing strategy…

-- If you can't fix it with a hammer, you have an electrical problem. Roanoke, VA

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3289 days


#3 posted 04-13-2010 01:31 PM

Ryan, you probably are over analyzing this situation. Experimenting on scrap stock to get the finish that you like is the best approach to take.

As far as the conditioner goes I generally follow Bob Flexner’s advice on this. Ignore the manufacturer’s instructions, let it cure out overnight and then start your finishing routine. For it to work the condition needs to cure and this just is not possible by waiting only two hours. I generally put shellac on top of BLO after letting it cure overnight. This is somewhat temperature dependent, as David mentioned, but with the ambient temperature that we are having now overnight will be fine.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View hObOmOnk's profile

hObOmOnk

1381 posts in 3594 days


#4 posted 04-13-2010 02:16 PM

The keyword here is plywood.
The thin layers of wood and the glue used in its construction, might make it difficult to get a consistent result from dyes, stains and finishing products.

When I use BLO as a chatoyance layer, I wait at least three days for it to cure. Even then, I would test the dried BLO to make sure it is ready to accept the next layer. Furthermore, I apply BLO very sparingly and even dilute it with solvent to thin it out. A layer of BLO that is too thick may not cure well and might become wrinkled, cloudy and gummy.

If I plan on putting a top layer of oil-based varnish on a bottom layer of BLO, I generally skip the barrier layer of shellac, since it really isn’t needed.

Proper preparation is everything. If the wood isn’t prepared to best accept the intended finish, then you will merely be spreading icing on a bad cake.

Keep it simple. Too many finishing layers and components can lead to failure. Again, plywood acts differently then solid wood.

-- 温故知新

View CharlesNeil's profile

CharlesNeil

1610 posts in 3337 days


#5 posted 04-13-2010 04:02 PM

Ryan, your best bet would be to email me charles@charlesneilwoodworking , I see you are about 1 1/2 to 2 hours away … I will help you walk thru this , and you can do the post … this would be good for everyone

View Ger21's profile

Ger21

1047 posts in 2598 days


#6 posted 04-14-2010 12:57 AM

Water soluble aniline dye. Never blotchy, and extremely easy. Finish with water based polyurethane.

-- Gerry, http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/index.html http://www.jointcam.com

View kurleeqt's profile

kurleeqt

2 posts in 2474 days


#7 posted 04-14-2010 01:49 AM

Wife here….I just want it done! I don’t care what the color is as long as it’s not too red!! :) Have fun boys!

View Ryan Brown's profile

Ryan Brown

72 posts in 2657 days


#8 posted 04-14-2010 02:36 AM

Yeah, I think really am going to lock you out of the shop now. I will will put the finish on it and you will like it. :-p

-- If you can't fix it with a hammer, you have an electrical problem. Roanoke, VA

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