Subscribe to Print
Subscribe to Digital
Give as a Gift
Free Product Guide >>
I am working on a large project, made up entirely of curly maple. So far my finishing results (on wood scraps) have been disappointing (more about that later).
The maple I ordered was from Ohio. Is it possible that my efforts to bring out the "pop"/"chatoyancy" in the figure would be better achieved with a different type of figured maple? For example: hard maple, soft maple, big leaf maple, "fiddleback" or "tiger-stripe", etc.
Disapointing finishing results: 1) Zinsser Seal Coat, TransTint dye and General Finishes' Seal-a Cell as a top coat; 2) TransTint dye and Watco oil; and 3) BLO, Zinsser shellac and Defthane top coat. All three approaches involved initially wet-sanding to 600 grit to raise the smooth the grain.
Any help would be greatly appreciated,
The seal coat before the dye is the problem. You need to apply dye to raw wood not sealed wood. One method that works well is to dye the wood with a biege or golden colored dye then sand it after the dye has dried to leave the dye in the curle only. Light sanding with 220 or 320 is all you need; then seal it with shellac and watch it pop the grain right up in your face... Practice your entire finishing schedule from start to finish on scrap wood; keep track of what you do so you can adjust or repeat the process.
Finishing is an 'Art & a Science'. Actually, it is a process. You must understand the properties and tendencies of the finish you are using. You must know the proper steps and techniques, then you must execute them properly.
Scott's right, Bob. Apply the dye to the raw wood and sand it off. Although removed from the surface, dye will remain
lodged in the figure which, just like end grain, is porous. When you put
on the second coat of dye, the figure stands out because it has two
coats of dye while the rest of the surface has only one.
I used this process on the figured maple I used to build the Turned Post Bed. To achieve a deep rich color, I applied a second coat of dye (I use a spray bottle to apply dye) and let it dry. Then I put on a wash coat of dewaxed shellac, followed by a burnt umber-colored oil-based glaze. When the glaze was dry I applied coat of gel varnish—General Finishes Topcoat.
I hope this helps.
American Woodworker Senior Editor