test on scrap and see.
birch is infamous for blotch, so the odds are against it working well
without using a conditioner first. if you want to really be sure, the
sequence will be something like:
It's not dark, I finished some baltic birch ply with straight
Polyurethane gel varnish. It looks great - the poly kind of gives the
wood some 3D texture and a nice warmth. If you want dark next time,
try starting with walnut or stained oak.
I've read that gel stains reduce blotchiness, but I haven't used them
on anything other than oak.
That's about how I would do it. For the sealer I would use Zinsser's DEWAXED
Seal Coat Shellac. I only sand after the two light coats.
LM., the Glaze is the stain. Worth a trip the the library or store to read up
on the technique. Suggest Jeff Jewitt, Bob Flexner or Michael Dresdner as
authors. Good Luck, JG
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