finishing birch plywood

I have just completed a blanket chest constructed with birch plywood and maple trim. Up until now, I've finished all my projects using 3 coats of satin polyurethane, but I'd like try something a little different on this project. I tried using cherry Watco Danish Oil on a piece of scrap ply, and it turned out looking like red oak more than cherry. Is this normal?
Also, I haven't used Baltic ply before, which I hear has a tendency to look splotchy after finishing. Any tips would be great.
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Sutula wrote:

I just finished a project where I coated some Baltic Birch ply with three coats of Tried & True Danish Oil (true boiled linseed oil), then four coats of Liberon dewaxed Garnet shellac (1.5lb cut) and finally waxed with natural Briwax. It looks great, nice color and no blotchiness except where my shellac padding technique was flawed :-(
Pictures are on abpw (Purpleheart/Baltic Birch blanket boxes) or at
http://members.cox.net/kpfleming/wood
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Birch plywood is a good match to hard maple. I just used Tired and True Varnish oil on a tray and it turned out well; a little more sheen that Danish oil. It was natural though, no stain or tints. Ed
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On Sun, 28 Dec 2003 11:39:36 -0600, Sutula wrote:

I work in a production shop where we build quite a lot out of birch ply and hard maple... the way we finish everything is to mix stain with sanding sealer, spray, sand smooth with scotchbrite pads or 400grit on an orbital sander (depending on the thickness of the coat and the size of the unit), then mix stain with varnish (or straight varnish, depending on the depth required), and respray. The stuff I personally build, I usually dont use any stain at all, I like the clear white color of the birch and maple, but I also like the look of 3:1 sealer:fruitwood stain, and straight varnish. But I'm a light color man, myself :)
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Thanks for the info. I'm having some trouble with the terminology. Can you define sanding sealer, and varnish? Are these the same as a polyurethane? (which is all I have ever used before)

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http://www.homesteadfinishing.com /
Sanding sealer and varnish are not the same product as polyurethane. Sanding sealer has a filler in it and it is applied to wood, it dries quickly, and sands to a smooth finish. Varnish is applied over it. Polyurethane dries to a harder surface than varnish. Explore the link I included above. I think you will learn from it.

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Hello Jack
Sanding sealer is a compound that contains metallic soaps (sterates) that keep sand paper from clogging. These can also cause adhesion problems with finishes. They aren't something you want to use.
What should have been recommended is a pore/wood filler. These are used on open pored woods such as oak and walnut to fill the open pores to a point were they are level to the surrounding wood surface. Not using one on an open pored wood when finishing with a surface finish (shellac, lacquer, or, varnish) will give the finish cratered surface. Pore fillers can be commercial fillers, the finish you are using applied and sanded back till the pores are filled, or shellac applied and sanded back till the pores are filled.
Yes. polyurethane is a varnish. A varnish is a mixture of a thinner (usually mineral spirits), a carrier (tung oil or some other kind of reconstituted vegetable oil) and resins (used to be things like rosin and amber, now mostly man made).
Three basic type of varnishes you will find at you neighborhood supply store will be Spar/marine varnish, varnish, and polyurethane (also in a spar poly).
Spar varnish is a long oil varnish (a higher ration of oil to resins) formulated to be more flexible then standard varnish to accommodate the more radical movment of wood exposed to the whims of the weather. Just plain varnish has a smaller oil to resin ratio and is more brittle then spar varnish. Polyurethane is the same recipe as just plain varnish but the resins used are more chemical and scratch resistant (which is why people who rub out finishes tend to avoid it) resins then that found in just plain varnish.
Application of all three is exactly the same process. If you have to rub out a varnish finish just plain varnish is the one to choose since it's cured properties lend itself better to the process.
--
Mike G.
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First question here is, are you staining because you think you have too or is there a specific reason for it? IE you have to match existing decor and the budget couldn't quite swing cherry,
If it is the first, staining is NOT a required step in finishing. My first rule of staining is 'don't unless you have to".
If you are staining of your own free will, I like Barry Burke's first rule.
--
Mike G.
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I have used Baltic Birch plywood extensively and like it. It holds it shape and finishes with no problems.
Jerry

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