alternative to amber polyurethane finish

First I will admit that I am perplexed. To date, I have developed a very good finishing technique applying polyurethane. First I brush on two 10% thinned coats, sanding to 220 grit after the first coat and then to 400-600 after the second. The thinning really allows the poly to flow and fill any minor imperfections. Then I wipe on two or more coats using a wiping poly (which is nothing more than 3 parts thinner to 2 parts poly). The final "wiped on" poly gives me a very smooth finish with no "nibs" and no need for further polishing. The problem with poly (that I use) is that it imparts an amber tone to the wood, which for cherry, walnut or darker woods is not a problem, but for maple, especially birds-eye maple, I don't like it so much.
So I am looking to switch to a clearer finish that does not impart this amber tone.
My preference: I really prefer to stick with a brushable finish with wipe-on capability. I don't have a quality sprayer and I don't have a good area to spray in. And the finish I get using the previously described technique is quick and, man, do I get the positive comments. I would like to avoid polishing (with Rottenstone or pumice suspended in paraffin oil), just because I don't like polishing - it's a little messy and tough to remove all the polish from the finished piece.
What will give me a clear (not amber) finish that I can apply much in the same way as I described above?
thanks........russ
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The only suggestion I have would be water based over oil based.

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wrote:

Be aware that a "good area to spray in" is way different with water base. There's no explosion hazard, so all you need is a window fan and a good respirator. In reality, you should also be wearing the respirator with the brushed and wiped on oil based finishes... <G>
My first sprayed M.L. Campbell Ultrastar finishes were with a $75 Harbor Freight HVLP kit. They came out great.
I have applied Ultrastar with foam brushes to *small* items, but you have to be very careful on medium and large parts, as it dries FAST!
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Shellac.
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Ultra blonde shellac or one of those names that they use to describe an almost clear but not quite, still a tad of amber color as it ages shellac - is what you meant - right?
There is a mag out this month that is on the news stands right now that is all about Finishing - front to back. It's one big ad for Varathane disguised between glossy covers but it has good info and tips. It certainly answers the OP's question - use water based poly. But, there is more to do and consider if there is pretty grain features that you want to preserve and highlight. So don't just hit it with water-based poly hoping to pop the grain, it won't so get the magazine.
I don't have it available to me at the moment but you can't miss the cover with "Finishing" plastered in big letters.
Bob S.
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Russ wrote: > What will give me a clear (not amber) finish that I can apply much in

Water based polyurethanes sound like just the ticket for you. Personally I spray them, but some are likely brushable as well.
I would buy quarts of each of several brands and experiment. Water is used as a thinning agent, but sparingly. You might find that you really enjoy the much less pungent fumes and the much faster drying time. A big advantage of the faster drying time is that there is less opportunity for dust to attach itself to the finish.
Now that I have gotten over my fear of flying wrt water based finishes I don't plan to go back! There are even some which are available with a slight amber tint to reproduce the look of oil based finishes, but I have come to really like a true clear finish. Stain the wood underneath if you wish to have a tone to it, then put clear on the top. Personally I rarely use stain as I prefer to get the color I want through my choice of wood.
John
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Thanks to alll that wrote in. So, if I take the plunge and start spraying a water-borne finish, what system do you guys recommend? I don't want to go overboard here, but my guess is that cheap Harbor Freight stuff won't get it done. So, what will get it done for a moderate cost? .........russ
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Russ wrote:

I'm using a Wagner dedicated HVLP system. Not HF cheap, but also not Apollo expensive. Works great for me.
This is the one I am using:
(Amazon.com product link shortened)96358873&sr=8-4
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Tue, Nov 27, 2007, 3:30pm (EST-3) snipped-for-privacy@hiwaay.net (Russ) doth queryeth: <snip> What will give me a clear (not amber) finish that I can applymuch in the same way as I described above?
I've not done a lot of 'speerminting so far, but Elmers, thinned 50/50, seems to give a pretty clear finish. Titebond II, which I prefer, gives a slightly tinted finish. I've been using my right index finger to apply it on my test pieces.
JOAT Even Popeye didn't eat his spinach until he had to.
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