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Greene and Greene influenced Eastern Black Walnut

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Forum topic by newwoodbutcher posted 04-05-2011 04:29 PM 1354 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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newwoodbutcher

391 posts in 1603 days


04-05-2011 04:29 PM

I have been smitten by the Greene and Greene furniture style, I can’t help myself. I’m just beginning the design phase for building two tall library shelves and desk with some of their design elements for my home office (Greene and Greene influenced). I’m for sure going to use Blacker Leg Indent, Ebony plugs, Ebony splines cloud lift rails, breadboard end book shelves and desk top, also with Ebony splines and plugs. Because I have it and I like it a lot, I’m building it all out of Eastern Black walnut. I know that’s not authentic Greene and Greene but I’m not intending to do a reproduction, only to use some of their design elements. My question is on the finish. The Black walnut is already dark enough so I want to use a finish that doesn’t darken it anymore. When I did a few sample boards using any oil based product It darkened the wood more than I want. I’ve never used shellac before but I’m thinking Blond Shellac may be a good choice however as I may have the occasional cocktail or glass of wine on my desk I’m concerned about the shellac breaking down from any errant alcohol spills. I’ve also never used a water based clear coat. I guess I could simply use a satin Poly (which I haven’t tried yet on a sample board) but something tells be the shellac or water based clear coat may lighten up the color better. So before buy anything new , I thought I better check in with you all. Any advice?

-- Ken


5 replies so far

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Joey

275 posts in 2569 days


#1 posted 04-05-2011 04:52 PM

In my experience with black walnut, it’s not that the finish is actually darkening the wood. Black walnut is already very dark and a finish, even a clear finish, will bring out the natural color of the wood. ebony is very expensive and a great accent wood. I would consider using something like cherry of even a mahogany/sapelle, as the main body. you would still have a nice warm wood and the accents would stand out. The problem with using ebony with black walnut is they are both very dark woods and the ebony will probably be overwhelmed and not stand out.

-- Joey, Magee, Ms http://woodnwaresms.com

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Loren

7826 posts in 2401 days


#2 posted 04-05-2011 07:56 PM

Even super-blond shellac won’t lighten wood, but it darkens
it very little.

Shellac is a great finish for lots of work. Alcohol getting on it
doesn’t cause a terrible disaster, and it is repairable.

I build a pair of sofas for my parents over 10 years ago and finished
them with shellac and wax. After years of people setting drinks on
the arms, there’s some damage to the finish, but it’s not anywhere
near severe.

Poly lacks the glassy transparency of shellac. It is tougher though.

I’d make up some samples if I were you. I bet you’ll choose the
shellac when you seen how nice it looks and how easy it is to
work with.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

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newwoodbutcher

391 posts in 1603 days


#3 posted 04-06-2011 12:06 AM

Thank you Joey,
As I just bought 300 bf of walnut, for this project before I got bit by the Greene and Greene bug (it was going to be Mission) I really must use it. I have a small amount of Gabon Ebony so now I’m thinking I also will make test pieces with the splines and pegs in Ebony, Cherry and ???

Loren,
Thank you as well, I will try the shellac in my testing as well. I’m thinking I could put a thin coat of Waterlox over the top of the shellac for a bit of extra protection. Have you ever done that?

-- Ken

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Loren

7826 posts in 2401 days


#4 posted 04-06-2011 04:06 AM

Ken,

No I haven’t, but from what I’ve read about Waterlox, I think the
effect would tend to be excellently balanced in terms of transparency,
thinness, pop, and durability.

Waterlox wasn’t widely available in California when I established my
finishing habits and I have never tried it as a brand but may have
used similar things.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

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newwoodbutcher

391 posts in 1603 days


#5 posted 04-06-2011 04:23 AM

Lorin,
That’s what I’m thinking as well. I’ve used Waterlox on Hickory Hardwood floors so I have seen it in action although an entirely different application I think it will add some protection from alcohol, and more without having too much “presence”, one light coat. I’ve ordered three grades of shellac and some Lacquer as well. I’m going to run all the choices Shellac, shellac under Waterlox and spray Lacquer through a sample board process and take it from there. Thank you for the input

-- Ken

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