Ambrosia Maple Finish

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Forum topic by JimboCT posted 11-19-2012 03:52 PM 15473 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 2010 days

11-19-2012 03:52 PM

Topic tags/keywords: ambrosia maple finish table oil

I have an ambrosia maple table top. I would like a finish that brings out the streaking, grey discolorations but leaves the underlying maple color mostly natural. I’ve tested Danish Oil and it tends to turn the wood red. This is a formal dining table and is not used frequently so I am less concerned about a durable topcoat. Any suggestions?

15 replies so far

View Nicky's profile


695 posts in 4087 days

#1 posted 11-19-2012 04:35 PM

This is one of my favorite woods. Most of the polys and varnishes I’ve tried yellow the maple. I’ve had the same issue with oils giving a reddish hue.

Lacquer seems to be the clearest finish. I’ve used this on some smaller projects. I don’t have a spray booth, or spray equipment so most of my experience is with spray cans. I’ve used spray lacquer from, clear finish with good results.

-- Nicky

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3280 days

#2 posted 11-19-2012 04:42 PM

I agree with Nicky on the lacquer. I do spray all my finishes, so I use a lot of lacquer. A water base lacquer would probably give you the clearest finish with out adding yellow or amber to the finish. A solvent based lacquer will add some amber tint to the finish, but usually that adds some warmth. It you don’t want any color change at all, then a water based finish will probably be the best bet. Even your water based poly’s. would be something to look at. I’ve used very little poly’s, so can’t give much help there.

-- John @

View CharlesNeil's profile


2399 posts in 3866 days

#3 posted 11-19-2012 04:59 PM

would suggest a good water base finish, its clear and non-reactive, solvent based and oil based products can have a slight reaction to wood, that is what makes it “amber ”, brown wood , typically referred to “warming the wood. Even water clear solvent products can react and usually do.

View Grumpymike's profile


2238 posts in 2310 days

#4 posted 11-19-2012 05:07 PM

The clearest thing i’ve found is a General Finishes water based urathane.
Any of the oil will make your grain “pop” but it will give a amber hue.
I use a HVLP spray to apply the urathane.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View CharlesNeil's profile


2399 posts in 3866 days

#5 posted 11-19-2012 05:19 PM

Grumpy , not sure exacty which one your speaking of, I use the High Performance, the Enduro-Var is a oil modified product, and it ambers ,( designed to for the warming thing ) I just applied it to a bowl blank of spalted maple, to help solidify it, it ambered it alot.

View mikema's profile


180 posts in 2581 days

#6 posted 11-19-2012 05:27 PM

I have done a few projects with ambrosia maple, and finished with Boiled Linseed Oil. It does amber the wood, but it does really bring out the color of the marks. Once the boiled linseed oil cures (may take a few days) then you can put your top coat of choice on top of it.

One thing I will point, with the limited experience of finishes I have, I have noticed that anything that brings out the color of grain patterns, figured patterns, spalting, and so on, will change the color a little bit of the base wood.

-- Mike ---- Visit my woodworking blog:

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3154 days

#7 posted 11-19-2012 05:45 PM

I like wiping/brushing on a thinned dewaxed shellac (Zinsser Sealcoat). It alters white woods only slightly while popping the figure really well. Then, I’d finish with a true water-borne finish (one not designed to look like oil) or a lacquer.

-- jay,

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3154 days

#8 posted 11-19-2012 07:10 PM

BTW, to pop the grain even more with shellac, add a slight amount of dye (I use Transtint) to the aforementioned Zinsser. Apply by wiping. Then, sand back down when dry, going back to raw wood in the lighter areas. Chase with your choice of color-preserving clear finish.

-- jay,

View Belle City Woodworking's profile

Belle City Woodworking

355 posts in 4012 days

#9 posted 11-19-2012 07:20 PM

Here is the lid of a Hope Chest I just finished in Ambrosia Maple.

The finish began with a wiping down with mineral spirits, and after that dried, one coat of Zar #117 Honey Maple Oil Based Stain, and then 5 coats of Minwax Wipe on Poly (Clear Gloss). After a week of that curing, I hit it with some Johnson Paste wax. (The picture is before paste wax)


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

View Tennessee's profile


2873 posts in 2510 days

#10 posted 11-19-2012 07:34 PM

On the front page of my website is a guitar made from Ambrosia Maple. Used Minwax Natural as a grain popper, and nitrocellulose spray lacquer for a clear topcoat, polished out with Novus #2. Grain just explodes. Scroll down a little for a picture of the backside, where the grain really runs.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2356 days

#11 posted 11-19-2012 08:47 PM

Waterborne poly or CAB acrylic lacquer.

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

View AandCstyle's profile


3050 posts in 2252 days

#12 posted 11-20-2012 12:56 AM

Take a look at Target Coatings EM9000 Super-Clear Interior Polyurethane.

-- Art

View BenI's profile


332 posts in 2173 days

#13 posted 11-20-2012 04:44 AM

Had the same problem with regular hard maple on a recent project, switched to waterbased poly and turned out great without any yellowing.

-- Ben from IL

View justholler's profile


62 posts in 2318 days

#14 posted 11-22-2012 05:47 AM

This seems like a knowledgeable group to ask a related question here…I’m making a table top but don’t have quite enough hard maple to complete, but I do have soft maple. Like the original post, I want to keep the color light, preferring not much change. The question is does the soft versus hard maple take any of the above mentioned methods differently to the point where a non woodworker would walk up to the table and see that the colors were different and be pointing that color difference out (regardless of the figure in the wood). All things being equal, I am leaning toward buying more hard maple and getting the project going.

-- Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most..... Twain

View Brobab's profile


13 posts in 1952 days

#15 posted 03-31-2013 09:19 PM

Bumping this slightly older thread – I just finished a top using Cabot natural. I am very pleased with the grain pop I got, and not much darkening. Started with one coat of Zinsser seal coat cut 50% with naptha. Allowed to dry and sanded back with 180, followed by a quick hit with 220. Vacuum and mineral spirits wipe, then the stain. Have not put a finish coat on it yet, just the stain which I applied very liberally and then rubbed in until dry to the touch. The darkening is no more than I saw with a mineral spirits wipe down. I was pleased that I got no blotch at all, (despite what my poor photo skills may make it look like – the reddish tint and the darker areas are shadows from the garage lighting).

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