Hard maple - staining and finishing question


I have a couple questions about some hard maple I'm trying to work with (bear with me this is my first staining/finishing attempt)
First of all the stain seems to hide the grain of the maple... in some spots it creates an inverse effect where the lines become lighter than the other areas of the wood. In other areas dark/light patches occur with no apparent correlation to the way in which the grain is moving. I've never really seen anything like it... it's sort of neat, but not the natural effect I was hoping for. Any clues as to why this is happening? I'm using Varathane's #263 "Mission Oak" on 240-grit sanded hard maple applied with a cotton cloth. I'll link to a picture if anyone thinks it'll help.
For the finish I'm using Varathane's water-based semi-gloss. No matter how meticulous I am about brushing it on I can't seem to avoid getting bubbles. I'm not using the most expensive brush in the world but it's not a piece of junk either. I didn't shake the finish, nor am I using the can rim to remove excess from the brush. The bubbles are there right as I apply, so it's not a heat issue as far as I can tell. Any tips on what to try differently would be appreciated.
Thanks,
Dave
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Dave -
I've had very good results just using shellac to color the maple followed by minwax wipeon poly for final coat protection. After that, BriWax or Johnsons paste.
I use garnet shellac, padded on to get the rich warm color. It highlights the grain without changing it.
HTH,
Vic
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I've had problems with bubbles in Varathane water-based gloss as well, and I did use a pretty good Purdy brush. I'm not certain what the problem was, but there is a mostly full quart of Varathane on my shelf now.
Why Mission Oak on hard maple?
Patriarch
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On Mon, 11 Jul 2005 12:04:40 -0400, "David Grant"

I made up some maple counter tops and had the same experience. Maple just doesn't act like oak when you stain it but the result is still pleasant. You can expect bubbles on the first coat or two, until the wood is sealed. Just sand them out and recoat. I used thinned poly and lots of coats, sanding in between. It turned out great and the top is pretty tough. The slings and arrows of normal kitchen use has not hurt it in over 3 years. If it does I will just sand it down and recoat.

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Staining Maple is a real adventure. Here are some points.
1. If you are staining with pigment stains, you shouldn't sand to more than 150 grit. You will get a better color build and it will be somewhat more consistent.
2. Pigments always obscure the grain somewhat but that's the nature of the beast.
3. The inverse effect is where softer material takes more color and harder material rejects. I see this a lot in Pine but haven't stained much Maple so not sure about how to deal with it.
4. On soft woods you can do super thined coat of lacquer or varnish first. Minwax sells pre-stain conditioner. P.S. Let it dry completly (ie 24 hrs) vs the instructions given on the can. Then you will get the desired effect. However, this is always done for soft woods, never heard of doing it on Hard Maple but you could try.
5. Dealing with a brushed Poly Varnish is a bit tough. A few tips. - Use "Tipping": This is one last pass of the brush nearly perpendicular to the srface of the piece with just the very tip of the brush touching the surface. This pops bubbles and levels brush marks. - Thin the mixture (ignore mfg's warnings if any). Mineral Spirits for oil based, or water for water based. Thinner mixtures make bubble pop easier. - Sand out bubbles and dust nibs with 320 or 400. Do it wet, mineral spirits with oil, water with water. I use a very wet sanding technique and it really makes a difference. I pour the MS right out of the can and keep thigs real wet. 10 times more effective than dry sanding.
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Staining Maple is a real adventure. Here are some points.
1. If you are staining with pigment stains, you shouldn't sand to more than 150 grit. You will get a better color build and it will be somewhat more consistent.
2. Pigments always obscure the grain somewhat but that's the nature of the beast.
3. The inverse effect is where softer material takes more color and harder material rejects. I see this a lot in Pine but haven't stained much Maple so not sure about how to deal with it.
4. On soft woods you can do super thined coat of lacquer or varnish first. Minwax sells pre-stain conditioner. P.S. Let it dry completly (ie 24 hrs) vs the instructions given on the can. Then you will get the desired effect. However, this is always done for soft woods, never heard of doing it on Hard Maple but you could try.
5. Dealing with a brushed Poly Varnish is a bit tough. A few tips. - Use "Tipping": This is one last pass of the brush nearly perpendicular to the srface of the piece with just the very tip of the brush touching the surface. This pops bubbles and levels brush marks. - Thin the mixture (ignore mfg's warnings if any). Mineral Spirits for oil based, or water for water based. Thinner mixtures make bubble pop easier. - Sand out bubbles and dust nibs with 320 or 400. Do it wet, mineral spirits with oil, water with water. I use a very wet sanding technique and it really makes a difference. I pour the MS right out of the can and keep thigs real wet. 10 times more effective than dry sanding.
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Staining Maple is a real adventure. Here are some points.
1. If you are staining with pigment stains, you shouldn't sand to more than 150 grit. You will get a better color build and it will be somewhat more consistent.
2. Pigments always obscure the grain somewhat but that's the nature of the beast.
3. The inverse effect is where softer material takes more color and harder material rejects. I see this a lot in Pine but haven't stained much Maple so not sure about how to deal with it.
4. On soft woods you can do super thined coat of lacquer or varnish first. Minwax sells pre-stain conditioner. P.S. Let it dry completly (ie 24 hrs) vs the instructions given on the can. Then you will get the desired effect. However, this is always done for soft woods, never heard of doing it on Hard Maple but you could try.
5. Dealing with a brushed Poly Varnish is a bit tough. A few tips. - Use "Tipping": This is one last pass of the brush nearly perpendicular to the srface of the piece with just the very tip of the brush touching the surface. This pops bubbles and levels brush marks. - Thin the mixture (ignore mfg's warnings if any). Mineral Spirits for oil based, or water for water based. Thinner mixtures make bubble pop easier. - Sand out bubbles and dust nibs with 320 or 400. Do it wet, mineral spirits with oil, water with water. I use a very wet sanding technique and it really makes a difference. I pour the MS right out of the can and keep thigs real wet. 10 times more effective than dry sanding.
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: First of all the stain seems to hide the grain of the maple... in some spots : it creates an inverse effect where the lines become lighter than the other : areas of the wood. In other areas dark/light patches occur with no apparent : correlation to the way in which the grain is moving. I've never really seen : anything like it... it's sort of neat, but not the natural effect I was : hoping for.
Maple is a very closed-grained wood, and absorption of stain is likely to be uneven. Try aniline dyes, which have a much more even coloration effect in woods like this.
: For the finish I'm using Varathane's water-based semi-gloss. No matter how : meticulous I am about brushing it on I can't seem to avoid getting bubbles.
You can add a tablespoon of milk to reduce bubbles. or switch brands -- I like General Finsihes PolyAcrylic bend, applied with a paint pad (the large things with white bristles).
    --Andy Barss
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