I am making a set of 3 stacking tables. Each table will have a center
rectangle of hard maple with 2 1/2" wide edges of mahogany. The legs,
stretchers, skirts, will all be mahogany. The maple is plain hard maple, not
curly etc. I have been reading Bob Flexner's book. He likes wiping varnish
or dying and glazing but the dying and glazing seems to be more for highly
figured wood. I wonder if members of this group have some opinions about
things you have done that came out well.
For hard maple the only thing that has ever worked well for me is no
stain and lacquer, shellac or poly, or BLO first to warm up the color
a little and then the clear finish. Hard maple just doesn't take color
I have seen where people have had success with darkeing highly figured
maple and I have a table cut that eventually, I'll start trying to
learn how to add some contrast. Dyes, I suppose.
Built a maple chest of drawers, trying to finish it was a total PITA.
About the only thing that I was able to get decent result with was gel satin
Allowed the shellac to cure for 45 days then buffed out with 400 grit
followed by 0000 steel wool followed by bees wax cut with turps and then
If I want the maple to stay bright and clean looking, which is why I
usually use non-figured hard maple, I use a water base clear lacquer
directly over a sanding sealer (the match to the finish or Zinser Seal
Coat). I've done the same with birch and ash.
If I want to color the maple, I use dyes or tinted, sprayed clear
coats. My favorite dyes are Solar Lux or Lockwood. Unless it's for
a specific artistic look (like a blue or green), I tend to favor the
lighter shades of artificial dyes, as they can fade in sunlight.
Practice with the dyes, as lap marks are possible if you hand apply
them too slowly. Solar Lux penetrates like a super-wet magic marker!
If the desired look is a "warmed-up" maple and I'm not spraying
things, I would try a rubbing of boiled linseed oil or better yet,
"Robert's Sealer", then a wiped-on oil varnish, like Waterlox,
scuffing between coats. Warming the tone of the maple with lessen
the stark contrast between it and the mahogany. The tone will
continue to warm with time.
On Sun, 16 Mar 2008 08:11:54 -0400, "Bonehenge (B A R R Y)"
I forgot to mention...
Keep a can of clear spray shellac handy. When you're testing dyes
and stains, you really can't see the real look until there's a clear
coat applied. Shellac is quick and easy, and gives the test panel a
close approximation of the finished look.
Many times I've dyed a board, only to have it look like crap until it
was clear coated. The clear brought the finer points of the dyed
surface "to light"!
LAMO!!! Excellent advice. I am only laughing as you can probably
guess how I learned that... it wasn't pretty!
Barry, have you ever sprayed Solar Lux? It will absolutely change
your mind about dying wood. I cut the dye by 75%, then lay it on in
mist coats with a 1mm tip. It looks nothing like a dyed piece where
the dye was applied with a rag or brush.
As you know, when you apply with a rag or brush, the wood's soft an
hard spots will pull out different amounts of carrier/solvent/pigment
over the piece. But if you spray, only a certain amount is applied,
no matter what. The wood cannot pull significantly different amounts
of color in the wood as there is only so much on the surface. It has
the effect of making the color application very uniform.
When you spray, the dye looks like dried dust on the wood. BUT, it
does something unexpected: it allows you to get the coloration almost
perfect. When the "dust" (dried stain particulates) coat is even,
shoot some finish on it. You won't believe what it does... you can
almost transform one wood into another. The finish will be so uniform
it will look like you sprayed a tinted finish in a factory.
It is very easy to apply stain this way, and there is no pile of rags,
no stain crap all over everything, and almost no cleanup.
But imagine spraying a fast dry dye; it is quick. I have dyed a lot
of entry doors this way, and you can dye with two coats (perpindicular
sprays patterns) with 10 minutes between coats. Let it dry to the
touch, and you are finished coloring in about 20 - 25 minutes, both
sides, all features and edges and ready to finish. (Insert a ninja
Spray it with the Kwickkleen, and you have a 100% finished door with
three clear coats on it in less than 3 hours.
I don't know if this would work with water based products as well, but
I would sure be interested if it did! (hint, hint!)
I did this with a birch door about a year ago, and it looks like a
quilted mahogany door due to the coloration and the way the wood took
the pigments. I bought it at a local lumberyard, and just looked for
a door with a little figuring. I guess the best way to describe the
finished door would be like having a "penetrating transparent color"
applied. I certainly does not look like birch.
Here's the fun part. All the Solar Lux family of stains are 100%
compatible. So by mixing their "dark walnut" (which is kind of flat)
and mixing it with a touch of "dark mahogany" (which is too red), you
get a wonderful color that is your own.
I actually haven't done too much mixing as I do the spray staining
pretty rarely, and if not for myself only do it if is a "one off" like
a bathroom vanity or something like that where the folks want
something with a little more pizazz.
But I'm ready!
I've always been amazed at the user friendliness of the stuff.
A buddy of mine painted his brother's mountain bike with Solar Lux and
lacquer. He sprayed the bike silver first, and added SL to gloss
lacquer to create a candy finish. The final result was way too pretty
for an off-road bike.
I should have been more clear in my original posting. I am looking to warm
up the maple as you suggested so that it won't look so light in color when
surrounded by the mahogany. Your advice is excellent. Thanks very much.
You weren't really specific with your question, but I assume you want to
darken the maple and then apply a clear coat. With maple you HAVE to use a
DYE. I like TransTint which is a concentrated dye sold at Woodcraft.
Dilute the dye with either water or alcohol to the darkness you desire and
have at it. In order to avoid lap marks, pre-wet the wood with either
alcohol or water.
For a VERY imformative video on applying dye to maple watch this guy:
Even though I will probably NEVER dye my furniture green, I still picked up
a few cool techniques from him. (Like pre-wetting the surface to avoid lap
I will be finishing some tiger maple drawer fronts and I was considering
using the black followed by sanding procedure he used to highlight the tiger
stripes. Not sure yet.
up the maple so it goes better with the warm mahogany. I got a good
suggestion from another poster, B A R R Y) about warming and then your
posting about using dye was also very good. I will try both on samples of my
wood to see which works best. Thanks again.
For a lesser effect, think BLO, stronger, think "yellow maple", "amber
fruitwood", or "golden fruitwood" in Solar Lux, or similar colors in
Trans-Tint or Lockwood.
Remember the full effect of the oil will take some time to develop.
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