Popping curl on Ambrosia Maple

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Forum topic by rshep55 posted 02-09-2009 04:21 PM 8233 views 1 time favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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70 posts in 3403 days

02-09-2009 04:21 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question maple finishing

I picked up a highly figured ambrosia tiger maple board at the Woodworks show and would like to apply the curl popping techiques used by “woodwhisperer” and other LumberJocks. Has anyone tried any of these “popping” techiques on ambrosia and spalted maple? I’m concerned about the what it might do to the spalt and ambrosia detail. I can not test on a piece of the board because I need all of the board for a table top.

-- Ron,R.A.Shepard Woodworking,Massachusetts

8 replies so far

View Greg Wurst's profile

Greg Wurst

794 posts in 3801 days

#1 posted 02-09-2009 06:19 PM

Generally, a penetrating oil (Danish oil, etc.) does a good job of popping the grain. If you’re really concerned I’d go buy another piece of similar material and test finishing techniques on it. Resaw a thicker piece into thinner slabs to maximize your options.

-- You're a unique and special person, just like everyone else.

View Doug S.'s profile

Doug S.

295 posts in 3677 days

#2 posted 02-09-2009 07:15 PM

I dont know what the Whisperers method is, but I experimented a couple years ago trying various things over curly maple. Most of the samples were tried with various colors of dye, then sanded back off until the color on the non-figured areas was pretty much where it started before the dye. I was trying a more muted approach that’s mentioned for doing candy-apple finishes on guitars using black dye to see if I could pull out the curl without otherwise coloring the wood. This did darken up the curl some and did look good, but in the long run I got just as good results with the ones that I applied superblond shellac to or boiled linseed oil without the extra sanding off.

-- Use the fence Luke

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4023 posts in 4033 days

#3 posted 02-09-2009 08:04 PM

SealCoat shellac from Zinnzer. Won’t yellow up like the oils. If it’s really punky, it might swallow up a few first coats, but after you build a film you will see the chatoyance winkin’ at you.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2656 posts in 3495 days

#4 posted 02-09-2009 09:03 PM

Charles Neil has a video that shows this very well.

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4369 days

#5 posted 02-09-2009 09:14 PM

I would go with Zinsser shellac like Dpuglas stated. I built my kitchen cabinets with Ambrosia Maple and they were beautiful.

Since sold the house.

I’d send you some scrap to try, but I’ve givven it all to Greg3G for use in his boxes as internal dividers. If you are still in a bind I’d search for somemore and try to get you a sample.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View rshep55's profile


70 posts in 3403 days

#6 posted 02-09-2009 09:15 PM

Thanks for the replies.

Greg, Doug S. and Kindlingmaker, i watched Charles Neil video. I’m not sure what will happed to the ambrosia coloring if I apply a dye and sand it off, as he suggests or Danish oil.

Douglas, does SealCoat make the grain stand out better that WaterLox tung oil blend?

Karson, I will search my scrap wood bin for a piece of ambrosia maple and test it. Thanks.

-- Ron,R.A.Shepard Woodworking,Massachusetts

View Doug S.'s profile

Doug S.

295 posts in 3677 days

#7 posted 02-10-2009 01:41 AM

I found some pics of the experiment though I didnt think to try the shellac until later and didnt get a pic.
The 4 on the left were dyed then sanded off with no other finish on them. The one labelled BLO is boiled linseed oil, then there’s a bare wood one for comparison. I’d have to double check to make sure but I think the dye abvreviations were CH=Cherry (not too sure about that one), RA=Russet Amber, MA=Medium Amber, and OR=Orange.

Same but bigger

I would try the SealCoat first and see if it doesn’t do what you want. I used mixed shellac but got nice results from that without the extra sanding effort.

-- Use the fence Luke

View rshep55's profile


70 posts in 3403 days

#8 posted 02-10-2009 05:13 PM

Thanks for your replies, everyone. I’m heading for the shop!

-- Ron,R.A.Shepard Woodworking,Massachusetts

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