Spalted Maple Finishing


I have just made four jewlery boxes with 3/4 splated maple set in a walnut frame for a top. I learned that sanding the wood does not work because of the black lines getting spread around. Using a cabinet scrapper I got the surface cleaned up. There seems to still have some wax sealer impregnated into the wood but mostly gone. I was going to finish one with clear shellac, 1 boiled linseed oil, 1 waterlox, 1 minwax tung or 1812 the canadian tung. Any suggestions with finishing Spalted maple is appreciated. I do have varnish and poly in the shop. I hope that these finishes wont yellow the white background. What would make the colored lines pop the most as well as seal from future rotting.
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I am not sure what shellac will do, but the normal finish to use when you don't want to yellow the background is water based poly.
The one time I did spalted maple I used BLO and love the results; of course, I used it as a lid for a walnut box, you may have a different need. Had no trouble at all sanding; in fact it came up almost polished.
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While waterbase is definitely the best choice for non-yellowing color, it's probably one of the worst for the other requirements you list. It will definitely NOT make the grain pop. In fact, it's the most opaque of the finishes you mentioned. It's also not very good at resisting water vapor. Like latex paint, waterbase "breathes" quite readily. It's probably not that much of an issue for jewelry boxes, but something to consider nevertheless. BLO or "tung" oil (I put in quotes because it's almost never truly tung oil despite the name) can really make the grain pop, but offers essentially no protection whatsoever from water vapor exchange. Again, probably not a big deal for a jewelry box. Bleached shellac is by far the most resistant to water vapor exchange (despite its very poor resistance to water in liquid form) and looks really good.
Personally, I'd go with BLO or either of the tung oil finishes you mention because they're easy, look great, and should be perfectly adequate protection for a jewelry box. For what it's worth BLO (or raw linseed oil for that matter) will darken the color more than other oil or oil/varnish finishes.
Josh
Toller wrote:

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BLO or "tung" oil (I put in quotes

Yeah, sure. Bet you can't find where that crock about Tung originated. Have your state AG go after them for false advertising if you believe it.
Shellac is a poor finish for a jewelry box, given its reaction to alcohol which may fall on it from spraying various colognes and things, not to mention the fingerprint possibilities.
The smudge from sanding probably was the dust moving inside the wax - crayon. Use a good air blast to clear the dust periodically or wipe with solvent to help the dust along.
I'd go oil-based varnish over a shellac seal, attempting the best of both worlds. Shellac to keep it from absorbing too much oil, and good alcohol resistance in the varnish. But that's because I hate spraying lacquer, which would be a great choice, except if she spilled nail polish remover on it.
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Good point about the shellac. I was trying to think of how a jewelry box would ever be exposed to alcohol, and I missed the incredibly obvious situation you pointed out - cologne, perfume, hairspray, etc.
As far as the tung oil comment goes, perhaps I should clarify: True tung oil is a curing oil and can be and has been used for centuries as a finish. With enough patience one can get decent looking results with superior water-repellent properties to linseed oil. However, for the average consumer/woodworker, achieving good results with tung oil would seem painstaking to say the least. It takes several days to cure between coats and it takes many, many coats before an even sheen begins to appear. Apply too many coats, though, and the built-up film will be soft and weak.
Off-the-shelf boiled linseed oil is usually just that - linseed oil with metallic dryers to speed up curing (the ingredient which gives it the "boiled" designation). This is truly a curing-oil finish and it behaves and protects as such. Having a product labeled "tung oil" on the shelf right next to the BLO imlies that it is a similar type of finish, especially given that tung oil IS a curing oil. However, these products are almost NEVER curing-oil finishes. They are oil/varnish blends. Granted, the oil component is usually tung oil (or partially tung oil), but the curing and film-building properties are a result of the resin component. Typically the curing time for these finishes is much shorter than for an oil (especially tung oil), and the resultant film is much harder, more water resistant, and has a higher sheen (true tung oil takes at least a half-dozen coats before any sheen is developed at all).
Imagine my surprise if I went to the grocery store and bought a bag of flour only to find when I got home that the bag contained a stack of pancakes. Sure, the pancakes CONTAIN flour, but that's not going to help me make bread.
By the way, this is straight off the Waterlox web site: "Waterlox's exclusive process takes Tung Oil , Resin, Mineral Spirits and other ingredients, to produce a complete wood finish that gives you the look and feel of a naturally oiled wood, with the additional benefit of forming a surface that is waterproof". Kudos to them for not referring to their product as "tung oil".
Josh
George wrote:

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You need to take a lesson in finishing from the lathe types. The oil becomes almost incidental to the surface when the woods sanded, burnished and buffed. Lovely stuff.
Would you be horrified to find that "baby oil" contains none? You can read, look at the label. Resin for hardening, siccatives - not necessarily metals, btw - to promote more rapid crosslinking.
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Point taken. Likewise with FF's comment about "Tung Oil" vs. "Tung Oil Finish". I still think it's a bit misleading, though. And unlike something like Cheez-wiz, where you can read the label and clearly see that it bears only a slight resemblance to cheese, it seems particularly difficult to find information on the ingredients of various finishes. It seems you need to infer a lot from the directions for use.
Josh
George wrote:

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What NO BABIES we should get a class action suit going against Johnson&johnson et al for false advertising. 8>]] Larry

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larry wrote:

When the Markting Folks get their hands on anything the truth has a way of slipping away - rapidly. Then there's the Lost in Translation thing. Take "Tao de Ching". In chinese is pronounced dao de jing. It should be pronounced "dung oil" but I guess the marketing boys thought no one would by it with tha name.
I've looked into several commonly availble finishes and my extensive research clearly shows how misleading finish naming can be.
http://home.comcast.net/~charliebcz/PointyStick/PSfinishing.html
Note that the method of applying a finish can be quite tricky. Some require virgin sheep wool, not so easily found these days. (is that a Sheep Joke? Baaaaaaa -d!)
charlie b
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Josh wrote:

What do they say on the label, "Tung Oil" or "Tung Oil FInish"?
What does it say under "contents"?
How about some examples, by product name?
I usually see them on the shelf next to Danish oil, which typically has no Danish in it. The BLO is more often found next to the paint thinner, which, BTW, typically has no paint in it.

I'd expect a package labeled "Buckwheat Pancakes" to have pancakes in it, made from Buckwheat, not pure Buckwheat.
I'd expect a bottle labeled "Tung Oil Finish" to contain a wood finish made from Tung Oil, not pure Tung Oil.
--

FF


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Josh wrote:

I think that depends on if you get high gloss, semi gloss or satin. The lower the gloss the higher the particulate content which is what makes it less glosy and more tanslucent (not really opaque.

I challenge that remark. Bob Flexnor seems to be responsible for priomoting that particular myth.Have you checked the contents listed, or the MSDS on anything labeled "Tung OIl"? I've never seen anything labled "tung oil" that listed anything other than tung oil in the ingredients. The same is not true for finishes that are labeled "Tung Oil Finish" or "Tung Oil based Danish OIl" But those are NOT labeled "Tung Oil" so complaining that they aren't pure Tung Oil is like complaining that latex paint isn't pure latex.
"Teak Oil" is usually thinned linseed oil. No 'teak' in it at all.
--

FF


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As I understand it, it all started with Formby Tung Oil Finish, which contained no tung oil. The word "finish" makes it all descriptive rather than accurate; it finishes in much the same way as tung oil, rather than it contains tung oil. If the bottle says "100% Tung Oil", it darn well better be.
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Toller wrote:

I'll recheck my bottle but ISTR that it says on the label that it contains tung oil, other oils, and resins. Basicly it's a wiping varnish.
--

FF


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That could well be, 0.5% tung and 99.5% modified soy oil. Maybe they have to put a bit in to avoid mislabeling.
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Seal the splading with Cyanoacrylate (Super Glue) Not the super market verity but the specialty stuff at stores like Rockler.
Dave
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<<<<<<<<<Snip >>>>>>>>>>>
What would

I used Waterlox on the box at
http://web2.airmail.net/xleanone/index.html/KJB%20Box /
While the Maple is Tiger, not Spalted, it worksnicely and seems to pop the grain pretty well without darkening it as much as BLO does. I've used on Spalted Maple with similar results - just don't have pics (or the box!).
Regards.
Tom
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I was going to finish one with clear shellac, 1 boiled linseed oil, 1 waterlox, 1 minwax tung or 1812 the canadian tung. Any suggestions with finishing Spalted maple is appreciated. I do have varnish and poly in the shop. I
hope that these finishes wont yellow the white background. What would make the colored lines pop the most as well as seal from future rotting.
________________________________________________________
This is the most common finishing job in my shop- Shellac will yellow it a bit (how much depends on the type) but it will make the grain really pop. That's my personal favorite, but it really still looks nice with spar varnish or poly as well. Biggest thing is getting it as smooth as possible- you can polish maple until it looks like glass with no finish at all, and the end result is really nice.
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I just completed some bird's-eye and spalted maple boxes. What I tried was a bee's wax finish. Mix was made from bee's wax (75%) carnuba (24%) and petrolatum (1%) to thin it out a bit. Spread it out and buffed it in with a coarse terry towel. Works best if wood is slightly warm. I don't think this will yellow, is fairly water-proof, and since it seals the surface, *should* stop further "rot".
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Thanks to all contributors. Good info. Any pictures of small boxes with spalted tops posted anywhere? My four are a copy of the front cover on American Woodworker.
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