Popping the grain in curly maple without changing the color

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Forum topic by TheWoodenOyster posted 11-10-2014 02:40 PM 878 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1275 posts in 1359 days

11-10-2014 02:40 PM

Topic tags/keywords: curly maple

Hey guys,

The title pretty much explains it. I am using some curly maple for the first time and I am trying to keep the color of the maple as close to the natural white as possible while still popping the curl out. I was thinking about just using straight polycrylic, but I’m worried I won’t get any grain pop with that. I’m not sure if there is a solution to this, but I figured I’d at least ask.

Thanks again

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

6 replies so far

View RogerM's profile


747 posts in 1823 days

#1 posted 11-10-2014 03:00 PM

No can do. Projects of curly maple pop because of contrasting colors. One way that might get close would be to use a water base dye (very dilute of course) allowing it to dry then lightly sand with around 180 to 220 grit sandpaper. This would put a little color in the softer grain while allow ing the harder grain to maintain it’s natural color. Please let me know what you finally go with. There would be a lot of ways to get similar results. Also, note my curly maple cabinets on my projects page.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View firefighterontheside's profile (online now)


13111 posts in 1280 days

#2 posted 11-10-2014 03:04 PM

I think the polycrylic might do a little for ya, at least better than plain water based poly. I just put it on some cherry and it did better than I thought it would. My next best suggestion would be oil based poly, but that will Amber it a bit.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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7125 posts in 2001 days

#3 posted 11-10-2014 03:21 PM

Interesting question. Maybe practice on some scraps until you find

something you like?

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5108 posts in 2618 days

#4 posted 11-10-2014 03:47 PM

If you want to see what the curly maple will look like, and pop the grain, just wipe it down with mineral spirits….then , if you like that look, wipe on some Danish Oil (natural), and it will really pop…..Practice on some scrap pieces first to see if it’s what you want…..If not, then go another direction…..

-- At my age, an "all--nighter" is not having to get up and pee...!!!

View Ripthorn's profile


1402 posts in 2409 days

#5 posted 11-10-2014 03:53 PM

Go get a can of Krylon crystal clear coat. I have used it on multiple guitar necks. It was the winner after testing with several different methods to do exactly as you intend to do. The figure popping is really amazing and the cost and ease of application make it a no-brainer. I went through trials with a ton of scraps and this was the best. Even got a commission based purely on the finish on the neck of a guitar I built for myself using this approach. Oils are great, but darken the color too much. Analine dyes don’t result in as much 3D and depth in the end, and polycrylic didn’t provide enough contrast. I don’t remember what else I tried off the top of my head.

Edit: I have no affiliation with Krylon, just a satisfied customer with a $3.84 can.

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

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1275 posts in 1359 days

#6 posted 11-10-2014 04:55 PM

Thanks guys. I will give these suggestions a try on some scraps. Definitely interested in the krylon option, I actually think I have a can of that sitting around. Is the texture gritty though? And if so, do you just sand it down with 0000 steel or 1500 sandpaper or so?

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

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