Toning Maple - Toner and Topcoat

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Forum topic by Luke posted 06-15-2011 10:19 PM 2846 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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290 posts in 2650 days

06-15-2011 10:19 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing sanding traditional maple question

Hello All,
My neighbor and I have undertaken building his entertainment center, the build has gone well, the carcass to the cabinets are completed and face frames are all built. We have been stuck, it seems forever in the finishing stage.

Right now we are still trying to achieve a finish he likes.

To start off, the entertainment center is made from Maple Ply and Select Maple hardwood, very nice looking. He wants a very pure dark brown almost like a walnut. His cabinets in his house are also maple, and he says they are too “Orange” and does not want any hint of “Orange”

Not knowing anything about finishing Maple (previous experience is with Oak and Painted woods)

We stained, found out quickly that didn’t work.
Then we sealed with shellac (found technique on the Wood Whisper) and used a gel stain, MUCH better, but he didn’t like how the pores of the wood came out. Not blotchy but the pores were darker than the wood.

I then bought Taunton’s Guide to Finishing, read it and figured lets give toning a try since he didn’t really like to see the pores of the wood, but wanted to see some figure. We toned last night with Shellac, and he for sure likes the way it came out, so now we are experimenting with color, since it was too “Orange” for him still.

My question is, we were planning on using Zinsser Shellac as the toner and then topcoating it with something.

To be honest, I am learning as I go, and I am wondering, what has worked best as toning, shellac, lacquer, water based lacquer…

and then what works best for top coating. We figured if we did shellac we could do a water based lacquer so it didn’t interfere with the shellac. Again, totally new at this, any advice or product recomendations would be greatly appreciated.

While I learned alot from Jeff Jewitt’s book, I felt it was too much of an overview. I find I learn more with people’s advice. So far, since it’s not my money spent, its been a great learning experience but we want to get moving on this.

Right now I’m using a gravity fed conversion gun, I have it on good authority that I will be getting an Earlex 5500 for fathers day though.

4 replies so far

View DrDirt's profile


4423 posts in 3705 days

#1 posted 06-15-2011 10:43 PM

Check out WoodWhisperers video “You and Dye”
Also can get Mohawk/Behlen spray toners to tweak the color without darkening the pores
Good luck, but I think the dyes will get you where you want to be, then just apply clear finish of your choice

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Luke's profile


290 posts in 2650 days

#2 posted 06-15-2011 11:09 PM

Watched several times now, thanks. It was very helpful, but I guess I should say is I have no idea as to what the finish of my choice is… Something strong because its an entertainment center, and a TV will be on it, but also something that is easy to spray.

View DLCW's profile


530 posts in 2617 days

#3 posted 06-17-2011 04:59 AM

Dyes to tone and color the wood. A very durable and LONG lasting finish is conversion varnish. I use ML Campbell Duravar. It is a precat meaning you mix the catalyst with the base and then spray. Spraying is very easy. I do all my finishing before I assemble. This way I get a really good flow of the finish and no runs. When gluing the project together, glue squeeze out is a none issue because it wipes right off the finish. Glue squeeze out won’t effect how your coloring or clear coat go on.

-- Don, Diamond Lake Custom Woodworks - - "If you make something idiot proof, all they do is make a better idiot"

View Luke's profile


290 posts in 2650 days

#4 posted 06-17-2011 08:15 AM

Don thanks for the tip, exactly what I am looking for. I think we may have found a good combination tonight. My neighbors wife did finally approve a color! I actually took a sentence from Jef Jewitt’s book and we did the following:

Tonight we took some de waxed shellac (Zinsser seal coat) and diluted it to 1 to 1 with De Natured Alcohol and added the dye. On our test pieces we then coated them with a coat of General Finishes EF PolyAcrilic.

I don’t have any experience with conversion varnishes, really anything other than Minwax Polycrylic at this point. Figured I’d try the General Finishes stuff. I like the water based clean up.

Think a few coats of the GF PolyAcrylic will be good? I feel like I am on a good track here.

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