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Thread: Best finish for Maple with natural color

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Appleton, WI
    Posts
    237

    Best finish for Maple with natural color

    Here is a little bit of background.

    I have made two twin beds for my daughters out of solid maple. On the first one I built about two years ago I tried Danish oil with brushed on poly over top of it. I like the color and finish in most spots, but the danish oil came out really blotchy. I just figured I didnt prep the piece well enough and chalked it up to inexperience.

    Well, not that I have finished the second bed, I wanted to do the same finish so that the pieces would match (they are going in the same room) and I made sure that I sanded the pieces thoroughly with 100, 150, and 220 grit, but the oil is still really blotchy.

    Next time I do a piece, what finish would you suggest for a piece that you want the natural maple color to show through. Or, did I make some mistake in the finish I tried (I tried it because other had had success with it)

    Thanks,
    Jason Morgan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Cockeysville, Md
    Posts
    1,488
    In my experience, maple, birch and pine tend to blotch when a "stain" is applied to them. I've had some luck using a thinned coat dewaxed shellac (Zinsser Seal Coat) before staining as it tends to even out the blotching, however, the stain comes out a bit lighter so you'll want to experiment on scrap first.

    Good Luck!

    Brian
    The significant problems we encounter cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.

    Never let your fears decide your fate

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Shoreline, CT
    Posts
    2,598
    I like to think that the oil has brought out the "figure" in the wood. Besides you need this if the second bed is to match the first.

    For the future--the purpose of the oil prior to the varnish is to bring out figure--in this case what you are calling "blotches". Going direct to the varnish should have a smaller impact on the figure. Shellac would also have a somewhat less impact in revealing the figure, especially if the first coat or two are with "super blonde" shellac. If you want more warmth, then shift to an orange or garnet shellac. Gell finishes also "blotch" less. Someone else will have to comment on "blotching" with water borne finishes--I suspect it would be less, but waterborne has its own problems.

    The key to successful finishing is to TEST the complete finishing program on scrap of the same wood prepared in the same way, BEFORE finishing the actual project. This bears repeating.

    The key to successful finishing is to TEST the complete finishing program on scrap of the same wood prepared in the same way, BEFORE finishing the actual project

  4. #4
    I agree with Brian. In my limited experience a coat of thinned dewaxed shellac - super blonde or zinsser's before the topcoat gives really nice results.

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