finish for soft maple?

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Forum topic by good_ol_brad posted 06-20-2012 11:27 AM 8336 views 1 time favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 2132 days

06-20-2012 11:27 AM

i am trying to find a good finish for a project made from soft curly maple. i tried poly-urethane on some scrap, but it yellows the wood and i didnt like it. i am trying to find something that will accentuate the curl in the wood while giving it a slight gloss. will a poly-stain combo work? what about some teak oil or something like that? ...and can you apply a gloss finish to something after you apply oil? im kinda new to the finishing stuff, any suggestions would be helpful.

-- "No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it."

9 replies so far

View Bobmedic's profile


379 posts in 2766 days

#1 posted 06-20-2012 11:50 AM

Stay away from poly stain mixes like minwax polyshades, they are horrible. An oil finish will pop the grain the best but you have to let it dry sufficiently before you put a glossy clear coat on it. Acrylic or Lacquer will give you a great glossy finish without too much yellowing but they don’t pop the grain by themselves very much. Arm-R-Seal oil based polyurethane will accomplish both for you. It will pop the grain and give a glossy finish (provided you buy the gloss finish) with minimal yellowing. It comes in satin also, which has flatteners in it. All finishes are glossy at the factory. To get a satin or matte sheen they add flatteners in it. The nice thing is, if you buy a satin finish for one project and want a gloss finish on another. Just wait for the can to settle out, the stuff that settles in the bottom of the can are the flatteners. For a gloss finish just dip off the top of the can and you will get a gloss sheen. Flatteners are nothing more than small particles that are added to dissipate light and dull the sheen.

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2213 days

#2 posted 06-20-2012 12:34 PM

I really like the finish I get from natural danish oil and wax when I don’t want to use a stain. It’s a lengthy finishing process and can take up to a week to allow for proper drying, and you have to be diligent about wiping the excess that seeps out every few hours or so, but the results are nice

Here is a piece of scrap ambrosia maple with just Danish oil (no wax yet)

None of the red grain was visible until the danish oil went down. It does a great job at popping the grain


View dhazelton's profile


2755 posts in 2261 days

#3 posted 06-20-2012 12:53 PM

I like clear shellac. Easy to touch up and a classic finish.

View Ripthorn's profile


1454 posts in 2950 days

#4 posted 06-20-2012 01:06 PM

If you are really looking to accentuate the curl while maintaining the natural color, I have actually found that Krylon crystal clear coat (satin) outperforms any oil I have used for the same purpose. I have used that finish on three guitar necks and they have all turned out remarkably well. Of course, surface prep and then sanding/buffing the finish goes a long way.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View Belle City Woodworking's profile

Belle City Woodworking

354 posts in 3981 days

#5 posted 06-20-2012 01:35 PM

I used a clear finish on this, I believe it was General Seal-a-Cell Clear Finish.


-- Formerly known as John's Woodshop - and NO not the one from Ohio!

View good_ol_brad's profile


10 posts in 2132 days

#6 posted 06-20-2012 01:39 PM

Thanks everyone for the suggestions! I just joined this site yesterday and it’s already been helpful. I will post a pic of this project when I get it finished.

-- "No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it."

View doninvegas's profile


334 posts in 2872 days

#7 posted 06-20-2012 11:27 PM

On a lot of my projects I use Danish oil to pop the grain and then the top coat of your choice. I like the GF High Performance.

-- "Courage is being scared to death -- but saddling up anyway."

View BenI's profile


332 posts in 2143 days

#8 posted 06-21-2012 06:30 AM

A few months ago while talking with a guy at my local hardwood company, he mentioned a very simple but very helpful bit of advice that should apply here with your maple.

Oil polyurethane usually (always?) has a yellowish tint to it that as he said, makes a white wood like maple turn to a buttersotch type color.

Water-based polyurethane however is clear so it keeps the color of it almost the exact same shade.

I’ve used Minwax Water-based Polycrylic when finishing maple recently and it turned out great without any ‘yellowing’ so I’d highly recommend trying that.

Good luck with it!

-- Ben from IL

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2326 days

#9 posted 06-21-2012 01:46 PM

Waterborne poly.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

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