type of maple and finishing ideas

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Forum topic by Sean posted 03-06-2011 10:03 PM 2642 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 2660 days

03-06-2011 10:03 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question maple finishing

Hope this is in the correct forum. I’ve purchased, cut and sanded to 220 grit this maple that I’m told is a soft variety. It’s going to be used as a side table with three levels. Can anyone tell me what species this is? I would also like to know if this method:

Would be a good one to try and finish this wood with. Trifern’s work is absolutely gorgeous, the colors and finish would perfectly complement the chair this table will be placed next to.

This is my first attempt at creating any kind of finished wood product (I’m much handier with high end mountain bikes and cars). Thanks for all the warm welcome, I look forward to your input!

13 replies so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3843 days

#1 posted 03-07-2011 02:49 AM

Sean, Joe’s blog is pretty good at detailing his technique for coloring maple. If I were going to attempt something like he did instead of aniline dyes I would use transtint dyes. They are pretty forgiving and fairly easy to work with. And wipe on poly is readily available at any of the big box stores. But, while the process is detailed well, this is routine that is, in my opinion, one that can be a challenge to implement.

If you decide to go this route I would urge you to practice on some scrap maple before tackling your project wood. To tell the truth though, your maple has plenty of character in its own right. If I were working with it I would opt simply for a natural finish and only apply wipe on poly. However this is largely a personal choice.

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

View Tony_S's profile


871 posts in 3104 days

#2 posted 03-07-2011 03:15 AM

Good advise from Scott.
I’d like to add…..Trifern’s projects are more often than not, some type of ‘figured’ Maple, and that is a big part of the wow factor with his finishing style. While your maple has a lot of ‘character’, it doesn’t have any type of ‘figure’ that I can see. I think you might be a bit disappointed with the end results if your expecting something similar.
All said and done though…Aniline and Transtint Dyes are interesting to play around with. As Scott said, try it on a piece of scrap….see what you come up with.

-- It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3072 days

#3 posted 03-07-2011 05:17 AM

In agreement with with Scott and Tony, above.

You have spalted maple, while Joe uses tiger/curly maple most of the time… two totally different outcomes will result.

Tiger/curly maple basically absorbs the dye at different rates with Joe’s technique, and in general when dyed. In a nutshell, that is how he achieves the results he does.

The spalted maple you have here will not react the same. With that being said, I think you can still expect some beautiful results.

Do you have a picture of the chair it’ll be placed next to, assuming it’s not the leather one that’s visible in the above photo?

Welcome to LumberJocks, by the way!

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3090 days

#4 posted 03-07-2011 05:43 AM

Hopefully, you have some scraps left over. Since this will be your first finished wood project you should practice a few times before you go for it.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3709 days

#5 posted 03-07-2011 06:01 AM

The Maple in the picture posted is actually Ambrosia Maple , not Spalted Maple.
Ditto the comments about figure versus character in your Maple.
Also , the finish that Joe uses on his projects is wonderful , but remember that most of his turnings are quite small (fit in your hand), especially when compared to your end table.
It’s one thing to do all of your sanding on a spinning lathe project versus a multi-step sanding and staining flat board project. What will you be using for the legs on your table ?

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Sean's profile


4 posts in 2660 days

#6 posted 03-07-2011 02:21 PM

Thank you all for the help and encouragement. This is the chair it will be placed next to:

The legs will be made out of some type of metal pipe, possibly bronze or a powdercoated steel. Given the color of the chair I would like to try and darken the maple planks. Before I found this forum I tried Minwax on some scraps, needless to say the results were less than stellar. Would a darker transtint dye be better to use than an aniline dye? I’d also be open to suggestions for colors as opposed to just a general darkness. Again, thank you all for your help.

View driftwoodhunter's profile


273 posts in 2708 days

#7 posted 03-07-2011 03:34 PM

I hope you will post your project when you are done, regardless of the finish/dye you choose. I’d love to see how the wood turns out. BTW, that chair looks might comfy, I may come steal it! ; )

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3007 days

#8 posted 03-07-2011 03:46 PM

I think layering transtint dyes would look stunning on this. It looks like the wood has enough figure and irregularities in it to provide some “gleam”. And I bet using some medium-deep browns and a darker red together would make it sing a little. I wouldn’t go too dark—one of the best parts about ambrosia maple is the dark streaks in it.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3783 days

#9 posted 03-07-2011 03:53 PM

I recently did a project using curly maple. I used a transtint dye with good results. However, I found that when brushing on a finish of water based poly, the dye tended to be absorbed, causing streaks. An oil based finish solved the problem.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3072 days

#10 posted 03-07-2011 04:19 PM

Whatever finishing route you go, you might want to put what some call a “wash coat” of shellac between your dye and topcoat, if you go that route. This is especially necessary if you go water-based dye, then a water-based topcoat. If not, you’ll get lifting, as mentioned directly above.

Or you could also go the suggested route of doing a water-based dye, followed by an oil-based topcoat. You shouldn’t really need the extra “wash coat” then.

Just don’t try to start with an oil-based first coat/dye, then try to put a water-based finish over that, following the old adage that you can put oil over water, but not water over oil (unless there is a sealing layer/wash coat between them).

If you look through projects tagged with ambrosia maple (thanks for correcting my error Len), you’ll see that virtually everyone leaves it more natural looking. With that being said, there’s no reason you can’t put some color on this.

The nice thing about Transtint dye is that it mixes well with multiple things. It comes in a little plastic bottle with a dropper, so you simply measure out whatever liquid you’re adding it to, then count the number of drops you add, then make note of it so you’ll have the information for future reference. Obviously, you want to start out with maybe only a couple of drops, then add a drop or two at a time while working on test boards, until you get the color you’re going for. You can also mix colors, as mentioned above.

Definitely keep us posted and let us know how it turns out. I’ll be curious to see some progress pictures if you decide to share some with us, and especially look forward to seeing the finished project.

Forgot to mention you don’t want to add Transtint to oil-based products.

Here are some tips for using Transtint. And here is some more information, including colors.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View Sean's profile


4 posts in 2660 days

#11 posted 03-10-2011 09:32 PM

Thank you all for the help. I’ll be ordering up some TransTint and plan on finishing with Waterlox soon. Hopefully I can get this finished, photographed, and posted here before the biking season hits and I become completely unproductive.

View Sean's profile


4 posts in 2660 days

#12 posted 03-20-2011 04:56 PM

Well I experimented with some TransTint (Golden Brown and Reddish Brown). Combining it with distilled water I experienced some grain raising. Here are the sample pieces, dyed and unfinished.

This is the a coat of Golden Brown.

This is Reddish Brown base, lightly sanded, then Golden Brown on top and sanded again to flatten the surface again.

This is a Reddish Brown, with Golden Brown on top and no sanding.

I like the colors of the tint but after sanding to smooth out the surface it looks like my ROS is producing some tearout and a muddy coloring is the result.

Any suggestions on dealing with the raised grain or suggestions on using the dye? I like the figure that comes out with the with the reddish brown but it hides the dark stripes of the wood and bore holes. Would there be a way to protect the coloring of these stripes will making the figure pop with the darker colors? Thanks for helping out the new guy!

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3072 days

#13 posted 03-20-2011 06:48 PM

What grit are you using on your ROS? Might need to handsand one more grit to make the swirl marks less noticeable. I have not really experienced tearout with my ROS? You can build the Waterlox to fill-in the tearout if it is very minor. It’ll take a bit of doing, but it’s possible. The tray I made here had a pretty decent amount of Waterlox on it.

It doesn’t appear that you’ve added any Waterlox to the above pictures yet? That should pop the grain nicely once you do that and probably give you more contrast between grain/color areas. You’ll obviously want to deal with the tearout issue first, unless you’re just going to level it with Waterlox.

I don’t know of any easy way to protect your stripes without taping them all off/maybe using an oil on the stripes first so that the water-based dye won’t penetrate those areas? That’s why several people mentioned not darkening the maple. Maybe someone else will have an easier way to try and accomplish your goal?

Regarding the grain raising, that is going to happen any time you use water-based dye. Usually you pre-raise the grain with a damp sponge/cloth (or similar), then lightly knock down the raised grain with sandpaper, then apply the dye. You could also seal the wood with a wash coat of shellac, or something similar, then lay down the dye.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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