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Thread: clear finish for maple?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Deerfield, NH
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    Question clear finish for maple?

    I'm ready to finish a simple maple bed. I'd like to keep the color as light as possible - like it looks under alcohol.

    It's for a daughter just starting apartment life who will likely move frequently, so should be a durable finish.

    I'm an inexperienced finisher, have always used brush on poly before except one piece I tung oiled and waxed.

    I bought a can of wipe on poly on the recommendation of a helpful demonstrator at Woodcraft. Would that work well? Sand between coats? How long between coats?

    I've sanded to 220.

    Thanks -
    Jack
    Jack Hutchinson

  2. #2
    I'm assuming that you don't have spray equipment. Wipe on poly would work but it does have a little color; amber. I like brush on lacquer (deft) for most of my projects. It has some color but less then poly. It does brush well just don't over too mush. Now water based poly is about as colorless as you can get. I've only used it a few times but it goes on nicely and dring time is somewhere in between poly and lacquer. For a bed project it would be fine.
    Wife's request is another excuse for a new tool!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    Pleasantville, NY
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    612
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Hutchinson
    I'm ready to finish a simple maple bed. I'd like to keep the color as light as possible - like it looks under alcohol.
    ....
    I bought a can of wipe on poly on the recommendation of a helpful demonstrator at Woodcraft. Would that work well? Sand between coats? How long between coats?

    I've sanded to 220.

    Thanks -
    Jack
    The label should give the dry/sand times. I would always give over night between coats. If it is an oil based poly ( I would bet it is ) use 000 steel wool or
    320 ( or 400 ) wet/dry paper ( with a little soapy water ) between coats (wipe dry) . No heavy sanding needed just get any "nibs" down and add a bit of tooth for the poly. One thing a clear stain might be a good idea otherwise the wood will probably "drink" in a lot of you poly.

    For some shelfs ( bircth ply wood ) i did. I used minwax clear wipe on.
    - sanded 220 , stain ( one coat some color ) dry over night
    - wipe on poly , dry over night
    - 400 dry sand , tack cloth, poly .... dry over night repeat , do three or four coats
    -

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    If you want a finish that is as "clear" as possible, many water borne finishes as well as some lacquers will do the job. The December 2006 issue of Fine Woodworking has an article on page 46 that details a lot of the attributes of many different water borne finishes includingn "color". You may find that helpful in your decision making.

    Personally, I use Target Coatings USL for most top coating and I'd have no issue with putting it on natural maple for minimal color alteration.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
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    Waterford, MI
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Hutchinson
    ... I'd like to keep the color as light as possible - like it looks under alcohol.
    I think you answered your own question. DeWaxed Shellac (Behlens SealCoat) then topcoat with whatever.
    Use the fence Luke

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    Southport, NC
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    As Jim has said, waterborne finishes in general give you a less amber finish than either shellac, lacquer or any oil based finish.

    The article in FWW tested for color in waterbornes and there is some differences from product to product. The FWW issue should still be on the newstands or you can look in your local library.

    If you want a finish will little amber color, do not use the oil based wipe-on. It will give you wood a distinct amber cast.

    As always, test you complete finishing schedule out on scrap material from your project. That way there are no tears later on.
    Howie.........

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Shoreline, CT
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    As other's have said, waterborne for the lightest, with a really light shellac (super blonde or ultra blonde) coming in next. In contrast to oil based finishes neither of these two choices tend to darken or turn yellow over time.

    But, you should also be aware that under any of the finishes maple will still darken over time. That part can't be changed, its just the nature of the wood. With maple this darkening isn't as quick or as dramatic as the changes cherry undergoes, but it does still occur.

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