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Help Finishing a Quartersawn Maple Trestle Table Top

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Forum topic by Nicholas Hall posted 01-05-2013 02:06 AM 1001 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Nicholas Hall

348 posts in 760 days


01-05-2013 02:06 AM

I’m a danish oil kind of guy with some exceptional wood on his hands and I need some help. Specifically, I need some help figuring out the finish for a trestle table top built entirely from quartersawn maple. I love the look of the tabletop with a wide expanse of perfectly parallel grain, without a single square inch of flatsawn grain in the whole top. I’d like to exaggerate this effect by darkening the latewood without darkening the earlywood. In short I want the tabletop to be striped like a zebra, not just a vanilla white top.

Since the color difference between the earlywood and latewood is very subtle in Maple, if I just use a danish oil, the quartersawn grain won’t be evident unless you are nose length from the wood. I’m trying to figure out a way to darken the latewood without darkening the earlywood. This way, the quartersawn grain will be extremely pronounced even from a few feet away.

I’m hoping that there is a lumberjock out there that’s tried this. Does anyone have any theories as to how this might be accomplished? I won’t be able to finish the piece until I can figure this out! Help!

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx


7 replies so far

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Nicholas Hall

348 posts in 760 days


#1 posted 01-06-2013 01:01 AM

If anybody even has a theory of how to accomplish this, I’m really keen to hear. Your guess is probably much better than mine! You might even save me countless hours in the basement with test tubes and quite a few dollars on obscure dyes!

Thanks

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

482 posts in 1185 days


#2 posted 01-06-2013 06:27 AM

You could try the technique used to pop curly figure. On a test piece first, of course…

Use a darkish dye – anywhere from medium brown to black – and apply it as directed. A water- or alcohol-based dye, not oil-based. And dye, not stain. After it has dried, sand it so that most of the color is gone.

The idea is that different parts of the wood will absorb the dye more than others. By sanding after dyeing, you expose the parts of the wood that absorb dye less and leave color in the parts that absorb more.

I’ve never done this on quartersawn maple, so I don’t know if there is enough difference in absorption characteristics to allow the QS figure to pop.

You may want to try repeating the dye/sand steps two or three times.

Also, you won’t really be able to tell how much of an effect the technique will have until you oil it. You are probably looking at some trial boards, or maybe a single sequenced board…

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

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Nicholas Hall

348 posts in 760 days


#3 posted 01-06-2013 07:19 PM

That’s an interesting idea. It’s worth a shot!

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10866 posts in 1344 days


#4 posted 01-07-2013 01:52 AM

Haven’t done as much QS maple but rattle can lacquer (Deft) or plain old shellac really seems to pop the grain on QS sycamore. I have posted several boxes finished this way (the maple/granadillo one shows lacquer on QS maple).

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

4919 posts in 1231 days


#5 posted 01-07-2013 01:55 AM

I’d experiment with a wood conditioner first. Maybe it’ll help you get
a more even grain pop.

Try on scrap pieces first, and good luck, it should come out great.

View Nicholas Hall's profile

Nicholas Hall

348 posts in 760 days


#6 posted 01-07-2013 02:15 AM

Gfadvm: You make some truly stunning boxes. I love the maple and granadillo box. The quartersawn grain does seem much more pronounced with lacquer or shellac than it does with danish oil. A nice thing about shellac is that I can try to pop the quartersawn grain with the shellac, but I can also build a few coats of wiping varnish like waterlox over the shellac as well for protection. I’m curious to try a nice dark garnet dewaxed shellac, sand it off, and see if this pops the quartersawn grain similar to the dye method mentioned earlier. Thanks for the suggestion!

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10866 posts in 1344 days


#7 posted 01-07-2013 03:10 AM

No problem. Post some pics so we’ll know how it comes out.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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