best finish for figured wood

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by webwood posted 07-03-2009 12:45 AM 5265 views 1 time favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View webwood's profile


626 posts in 2670 days

07-03-2009 12:45 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

searching for the best finish for tiger maple , lace wood , etc

-- -erik & christy-

13 replies so far

View gagewestern's profile


307 posts in 2770 days

#1 posted 07-03-2009 01:45 AM

charles neal on you tube covers this nicely

-- gagewestern

View jeffthewoodwacker's profile


603 posts in 3224 days

#2 posted 07-03-2009 02:28 AM

Wipe on poly does a very nice job.

-- Those that say it can't be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

View Marc5's profile


304 posts in 2761 days

#3 posted 07-03-2009 03:07 AM

I like Tung Oil.

-- Marc

View Karson's profile


35032 posts in 3820 days

#4 posted 07-03-2009 03:19 AM

I like an oil finish to make the figure pop. And then put your surface finish of choice.

-- 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 JayPique's profile


61 posts in 2707 days

#5 posted 07-03-2009 03:34 AM

For maple I like to use a little amber colored dye, and then tung oil. Then topcoat it with shellac. Not sure about lacewood as I’ve never used it. I’d definitely go with some sort of color with the maple though, cause it’ll be real white otherwise and look “new”.


View Hyperhutch's profile


63 posts in 2669 days

#6 posted 07-03-2009 04:32 PM

Funny you should bring this up. I just got done finishing a VERY curly maple bowl with Danish oil followed by urethane. I tried the oil for the first time, as many turners like it, but it caused a little blotching and wish I would have stuck with my usual methods.

Of course, shortly after applying the oil I read an article about finishing, and here’s what it said:

Oils accentuate grain but reduce chattoyance (the shimmery-ness). Samples were shown and those coated with oil were very significantly ‘duller’ in appearance. It was stated that the grain stilled popped, and chattoyance was brilliant, when using solvent based topcoats. Again, samples were shown and the results were beautiful. And from personal experience, I have been very pleased with using urethane topcoat on figured woods.

So my reccommendation is to go with a solvent based topcoat.


-- I hope the volume of shavings one creates is directly related to the probablility of one's success, cuz if so I've got it made!!

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1283 posts in 3156 days

#7 posted 07-03-2009 05:04 PM

Lacewood has some very brittle and rough grain. It should have lots of coats of finish in order to protect it from getting chipped. Clothing, rags, or papertowels can easily get snagged on the grain and tear a piece off. It is also important to sand it carefully and try not to tear out grain. You can look at some examples of what it should look like when finished at my website:

I did a kitchen in Lacewood and Lyptus some time back. I decided to finish it in polyurethane in order to have a very hard and durable finish. So far, the kitchen is holding up well and looks in as new condition.

I also did an entertainment center 9 years ago in tiger maple. I used a wipe on poly in order to have a thin but durable finish. I was at their home last week and it is more beautiful than new. It is achieving the tones and color of a more aged maple. The grain is more spectacular. You can see photos on my website also.


-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View a1Jim's profile


115172 posts in 2997 days

#8 posted 07-03-2009 05:07 PM

I’m with gagewestern check out charles Neils how to make your grain pop.

-- Custom furniture

View SwedishIron's profile


142 posts in 3060 days

#9 posted 07-03-2009 11:02 PM

I’m in the process of making a curly hard maple cupboard/hutch and for my finish I experimented with Rob Millards recipe/process documented on the last page of his Chest on Frame article. I had great luck w/ it and really love how it turned out.
Here is a picture of my sample board:
Curly Hard Maple Finishing Sample Board

-- Scott, Colorado

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 3187 days

#10 posted 07-03-2009 11:08 PM

Aniline dyes and poly on the tiger maple.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View davidroberts's profile


1025 posts in 2905 days

#11 posted 07-03-2009 11:42 PM

what most have said but sand a bit after the initial aniline dye, then finish.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View webwood's profile


626 posts in 2670 days

#12 posted 07-05-2009 11:06 PM

some great info guys – thanks

-- -erik & christy-

View patrick m's profile

patrick m

197 posts in 3232 days

#13 posted 07-05-2009 11:38 PM

Pore filler,>The dye, oil, shellac followed by periodic waxing is good. Dye gets the color without obscuring the figure. I don’t like to get too dark because the maple will darken a little on its own. Oil will help pop the tiger as long as the dye is not extremely dark. And the only appropriate top coat that’s around these days is shellac. Shellac probably wasn’t the first finish on the museum original unless it was made late in the 18th. c. but it was probably used on the first refinishing early in the 19th. century, when the owners tired of constantly having their servants buffing the wax.

Shellac has greater longevity than any other finish around. No varnish or lacquer can survive longer without degrading. Yes, it can be scratched a bit easier than some, but those scratches are trivial to repair. It resists transfer of moisture better than other finishes so seasonal wood movement that stresses joints over long periods will be less under a shellac finish than with most others. It’s OK with liquid water as well, not as good as varnishes, but much better than some seem to believe. Shellac doesn’t handle alkaline cleaners (ammonia) at all well. That’s the Achilles heel -Steve Or you’d be surprised from polycrilic water based clear coat over BLO. I’ve used it several times and am still surprised ….. Cause I was a big danish oil buffing fan before.
Patrick p.s. If you want a lot of love in it …. Thin apply fine sand buff repeat. just my 2c

-- PJM.`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸ ><((((º> ""BY HAMMER AND HAND ALL ARTS DO STAND""1785-1974 nyc Semper Fi, Patrick M

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics