finishing mahogany

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Forum topic by grandma posted 08-13-2009 12:06 AM 9893 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 3444 days

08-13-2009 12:06 AM

Topic tags/keywords: mahogany

I am new to woodworking and am building a entertainment cabinet for my wall mounted tv,I am using african mahogany and am not sure the best way to treat the wood.Use a varnish,shellac ,oil or wax.I don’t mind putting the work in to do this right.

6 replies so far

View Sean's profile


156 posts in 3850 days

#1 posted 08-13-2009 12:18 AM

what kind of finish do you want? is protection most important, or sheen or texture or what?

-- "Democracy is by far the worst system of government. Except all the others that have been tried." ~ Winston Churchill

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

540 posts in 3716 days

#2 posted 08-13-2009 12:19 AM

All of those are good. I’d say it’s going to come down to what you have the most experience in using. Personally I use lacquer. I find that it seals the grain well, and when done right gives a nice smooth surface. But you need to know how to properly use a spray gun. If you’re going with just hand applied finishes, I’d try to find what’s going to give it the most protective finish. Oil looks nice, but doesn’t really shine up like a lacquer or varnish or poly. Wax is good after you’ve put something like a shellac or varnish, it will give it a very nice shine. However, wax, oil and shellac collect dust over time and the piece will become darker, now the patina is desirable is some cases, however, it will take away from the natural beauty of the wood (in my humble opinion). I’d say go with the varnish or a wipe on poly. The poly will be a little bit tougher.

Finishing is one of those steps that can be a bit frustrating at first, but as you do more projects you’ll figure out the little tricks that will give your piece that final shine and make it the center of attention by everyone who sees it.

Good luck and I can’t wait to see the finished results.

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

View Gary's profile


9386 posts in 3668 days

#3 posted 08-13-2009 03:32 AM

I agree…and by the way, welcome to LJ’s

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View douglbe's profile


370 posts in 4196 days

#4 posted 08-13-2009 03:55 AM

Wipe on poly is very easy to use, it is just about bullet proof when applying. I do a 50/50 mix of polyurethane and mineral spirits. You can use naptha in place of mineral spirits if you would like something that will dry faster. You will have to apply more coats because it is thinned; I like to apply 6-8 coats and lightly sand every other coat. I use a small rag to apply. When the poly has cured (when you can not smell the poly, approx. 7-14 days apply a coat of wax. Some like to let the finish cure for a month or more, but I have not had any problems after a week. By the way, welcome to LJs. You will enjoy it here, a great bunch of woodworkers.

-- Doug, Reed City, Michigan

View bibb's profile


327 posts in 3766 days

#5 posted 08-13-2009 05:04 AM

First things first. If you want a smooth shiny finish you will need to fill the pores. I use Behlan’s pore filler. You can find good info in the wood whisper’s site. Then for a great almost 3-d look with amazing chatoyance I apply several coats of home-brewed Sam Maloof oil (the simple recipe is also available on the web).This formula gives African Mahogany an amazing finish in fact there is an example here:

Cheers Bibb

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

View MrHudon's profile


114 posts in 3445 days

#6 posted 08-13-2009 01:51 PM

The candle stand in my avatar is Honduras mahogany finished with 2 coats of orange shellac cut down about 50/50 with denatured alcohol then a few layers of wipe on varnish.. The shellac fills the pores and gives the piece a traditional old look, the varnish protects the piece. Not really sure if the African Mahogany finishes any different or the type of finish you are looking for? Here is a better picture#
Good Luck,

-- Mark,

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