I just completed a cherry jewelry box for SWMBO with birds-eye maple drawer
fronts. This is my first cherry project. What do you recommend for a finish
that will compliment both woods? I don't plan to stain. Yes, I did a google
BTW, I bought the birds-eye at the neighborhood saw mill with SWMBO. They
had three beautiful 8' X 8" X 5/4 birds-eye maple boards. I was going to buy
one. SWMBO said, "Why don't you buy all three?" I gave in and bought all
three. I hate when she pushes me around. ;>)
Danish or tung oil brings out the color nicely. I just did some boxes for
gifts and put a coat of Danish oil, then after sitting for a week, a few
coats of lacquer. Unfortunately, the lacquer is in a spray can and difficult
to get a nice smooth professional finish.
Damn, that's a no-lose gloat :-)
Look at the logic here: Either you get to gloat over the price
you paid for the maple, or if the price wasn't gloatworthy,
then by definition you get to gloat about your outstanding SWMBO!
Seriously, these woods respond really well to oil-based rubbing
finishes such as tung or danish. They are easy and nearly
foolproof, and look great. Only caution: some formulations amber
wood a lot more than others, and that's an effect that many people
don't like on maple. I've always liked the Park's tung oil
finish, and in general the linseed-oil based finishes amber more
than the tung oil based ones, but this is a matter of taste.
Another possibility is shellac (but mix your own from flakes
so you can control the cut), which will dry dead clear with
no ambering at all, just gorgeous on maple and cherry. It's
a bit less forgiving though, and you may have to sand the
finish coat with very fine-grit (1000 or higher) to get a
result you really like. Shellac does have the advantage
of being completely reversible, though - it comes off with
the same denatured alcohol you use to mix it in the first place.
No matter what you do, you violate the first law
of finishing at your peril:
ALWAYS TEST ON A PIECE OF SCRAP FIRST. That's what those
leftover bits are good for, and it's the only way of
knowing what an unknown finish is going to do for you.
A coat of paste wax after the finish is completely hard, of course.
Oil finish on the cherry with linseed-based products - clearer.
Shellac or lacquer the birdseye. Lacquer preferred, because a lot of
cosmetics have alcohols in them, and they might get carried to the box on
Past would be Johnson's (as I understand it is no longer available
although I still have an old tin I use on equipment tables, etc.) :)
At present I use Minwax and/or Behlens among others...there are a
Butcher's Bowling Alley wax, Briwax, Liberon Black Bison, ...
Briwax 2000 is a formulation w/o Toluene; important to some. Since it
takes me several years to go through a can, I figure that I get more
exposure to solvents from pumping my own gasoline.
firstname.lastname@example.org (SteveC1280) wrote in
I'd definitely suggest some oil-based finish to bring out the depth in
the birdseye maple.
Oil and shellac would be the first choice, especially if you want a
finish with a lot of depth.
I recently did some curly maple projects with Waterlox original and I
liked the way the figure came out. The Waterlox was more time consuming
to apply and build than the oil/shellac route.
I just finished a curly maple jewelry box for LOML. The finish is a coat of
boiled linseed oil to pop the grain, flooded on, wiped after 1/2 hour to
remove excess, then dried for a week. Over that, General oil/poly in satin.
My favorite for the last 2 projects is VERY simple...
two coats of Tung Oil (tung oil finish.... the stuff that polymerizes),
then after dry, I use paste wax with 0000 steel wool as the applicator.
I put it on quite heavy, rubbing fairly vigerously, then wipe it off
before it dries with a clean towel. It's INCREDIBLE how smooth this
gets your piece, and there is little aroma when completely wiped down.
I tried that recently, and ended up with tiny little pieces of steel wool in
the grain. I had to resand it out and start again, this time without the
steel wool. Think my steel wool was defective? Did I not use enough paste
There was an article on "Three Finishes for Maple" in FWW #163 (6/03) by
one of their regular contributors (Teri Masaschi) who's a finishing pro.
For a light look she recommends sanding to 180, then flooding w/
Waterlox Original thinned 1:1 w/ mineral spirits and wet-sanding w/ 400.
The wet sanding drives the finish into the eyes and leaves a
glass-smooth finish. One app only to avoid yellowing the maple w/ the
oil. Then finish w/ CAB acrylic lacquer, or a pale solvent finish
Behlen (Water White Restoration Varnish a particular recommendation), or
water-based lacquer or urethane. Use glossy finish for clear coat to
avoid the dulling effect of the flatting agents in satin or semi-gloss
finishes. If don't want the high sheen in the end, rub out the gloss
Her idea is to use the oil to enhance "pop" the eyes while the film coat
creates the deeper more dimensional finish than the oil alone...
She also gives a "recipe" for mid- and "antique" tones...
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