what finish for black walnut inlaid with abalone

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Forum topic by Thudbruiser posted 08-25-2010 07:04 PM 1379 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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17 posts in 2800 days

08-25-2010 07:04 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing

Hi all, I’m new to this forum and would like some advice. I am currently making a small box out of American black walnut and I am going to inlay some Paua abalone in the top. My question is what finish can I put on the Paua and walnut?

-- Dave Nottingham England

7 replies so far

View supervato's profile


153 posts in 2897 days

#1 posted 08-25-2010 07:12 PM

Im a big fan of old school shellac. In this case i would try blonde shellac. This will bring out the grain on the walnut and not darken it much for the inlay wood.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3042 days

#2 posted 08-25-2010 07:21 PM

The question of “what finish” can really only be answered if you state more about your objectives. Some finishes are very durable, heat resistant and/or water resistant. Other finishes are more attractive and/or do a better job of bringing out the grain. Some offer a satin look and others offer more of a glossy look.

I personally use about 6 different finishes depending on my objective for the piece I am working on. What are your objectives?

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Chris 's profile


1879 posts in 3959 days

#3 posted 08-25-2010 07:24 PM


In this case I would have to agree with the comment above. The shellac is also very easy to repair later should you have the need. I guess another option would be clear lacquer. This might not darken the abalone as much as the the shellac. However, the shellac is just so much easier to apply in my opinion.


-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Thudbruiser's profile


17 posts in 2800 days

#4 posted 08-25-2010 07:34 PM

Hi Rich, I would like a satin finish as I dont like the high gloss finishes.

-- Dave Nottingham England

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3019 days

#5 posted 08-27-2010 02:20 AM


Stick with shellac, and if the gloss is too much, knock it down with 0000 steel wool and wax. I would add one big caution, however. TO the best of my knowledge abalone and mother-of-pearl (same things) are VERY toxic. Use a GOOD mask and try to keep the dust under control when cutting it.

Having said that, I loved Nottingham. One of the best parts was on driving into town from the west, I saw a sign that said “Sherwood Forrest USED to be here” (emphasis mine). Evidently the natives chopped and burned it for firewood several hundred years ago.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View rusticandy's profile


110 posts in 3498 days

#6 posted 08-29-2010 04:38 PM

Stick with shelllac, and then you can overcoat w/ water based poly if you’d like. I work w/ abalone and walnut all the time.

-- rustic andy

View Thudbruiser's profile


17 posts in 2800 days

#7 posted 08-29-2010 04:49 PM

Andy thanks for the advice shellac it is

-- Dave Nottingham England

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