How to make Mahogany figure 'Pop'

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Forum topic by Ivan posted 05-06-2009 04:40 PM 3852 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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185 posts in 3378 days

05-06-2009 04:40 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question mahogany finishing arts and crafts

I’m building a trunk and was able to find some beautiful Mahogany with figure.

I wanted to know if anyone has a finishing method that would make the figure pop? After the initial milling I can see some great ribbon grain when I look at it from a raking light.

I know that Maple figure can be made to pop with dye, but I really like the natural look of sun darkened Mahogany and would prefer to not add a stain.

Any suggestions?


-- "Do it right the first time, you'll just kick yourself later..."

7 replies so far

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 3526 days

#1 posted 05-06-2009 05:15 PM

Mahogany gets that striping from being quartersawn. What I do to finish it, is to sand to 220, then use a few coats of amber shellac cut with DNA. Then use oooo steel wool with wax to rub it out, or use poly or laquer , then wax of it needs to be more durable.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

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Damian Penney

1141 posts in 3992 days

#2 posted 05-06-2009 05:34 PM

David Marks uses Potassium Dichromate which looks amazing.

These guys stock it

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3674 days

#3 posted 05-06-2009 05:58 PM

A good oil based finish can really help figure and curl and other things stand out.

Waterlox is good for that.

never tried the potassium route.

View Ivan 's profile


185 posts in 3378 days

#4 posted 05-06-2009 06:06 PM

I think I’ll try the Potassium Dichromate.

Thanks again,

-- "Do it right the first time, you'll just kick yourself later..."

View bibb's profile


327 posts in 3532 days

#5 posted 05-06-2009 06:21 PM

I have used Behlen’s pore filler dyed black with trans tint then sanded back down. Topped with 3-4 coats French polished amber shellac over with great success.

-- you may only live once, but if you do it right that's all you need

View a1Jim's profile


117095 posts in 3578 days

#6 posted 05-06-2009 06:23 PM

Check out how to make grain pop By Charles Neil on you tube.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

540 posts in 3482 days

#7 posted 05-06-2009 06:35 PM

One method that luthiers use to make figured maple stand out is to put a dark dye down first and work it into the grain, then sand it down so that all that’s left is what’s in the low, soft grains, then but a clear lacquer over it. I don’t know how that will work on mahogany, but you can try and experiment on some scraps you’ve got left over. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

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