I made two letter boxes for my desk about 6 months ago; one out of walnut,
and the other out of curly maple.
The figure in the curly maple has gotten significantly more pronounced. The
walnut had no figure when I made it, but it does now.
Am I hallucinating, or does this happen?
There's no difference in the actual figure, obviously, but the effect of
aging is to cause differing colorations on the various grain types the
make up the visible figure. The particular finish/stain used as well as
the UV exposure, etc., will also play a role...
Lot of flippant answers, but yes, the changes resulting from oxidation of
the surface will alter the intensity and color of the light reflected to
your eye. In curly figure you get a mix of tight face and end grain from
any angle. As the end grain is mostly air when looking directly at it, it
will continue pretty much as it is - light in color - while the face grain
darkens visibly as it oxidizes.
Acer rubrum - the eastern "soft" maple, if given time in the log, can also
undergo chemical changes similar to the ones which take place as sapwood
changes to heartwood, producing color almost as dark as walnut throughout
the piece. Linseed oil seems to help this along, not just darkening, but
seemingly changing with time. I like to use this effect on turnings, then
set them next to each other on the display, ready to answer the "what wood"
questions with "same."
As to the walnut, I suspect the same might be operating on figure which is
not so pronounced.
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