I have some beautiful Tiger Maple that I would like to accentuate the figure
of -- see BSR5GN on this site to see what I'm after
I have purchased Honey Amber, Golden Brown and Mission Brown TransTint
dyes. I have mixed these dyes at ~ 1 tsp/10oz of water. All are way too
dark when applied for the effect I want. I would appreciate some tips on
how to get the light colored finish with the highlights depicted in the
above referenced site.
Is it a matter of further diluting the dye, sanding most of it off ????
Some guidance would be appreciated
Either/or/or both. If it's hard maple, mix a half strength golden and honey
and take a look at what you get after a rag coat and 320 setup sand. If
soft, mix at closer to 1/4 strength.
I shellac after, rather than add any amber color from the oil.
Old-time gun makers would wave flame over tiger maple, darkening (actually
caramelizing the sugar in) the growth rings and really popping out the
grain. Works great with a small propane torch. I'd recommending trying it
on a scrap first, though...
Michael Latcha - at home in Redford, MI
It doesn't look to me like those guitars were stained. Figure is
enhanced by a high luster finish. If your finish is clear, smooth, and
glossy, the figure will jump out. A nicely planed, scraped or sanded
surface will show figure very well without any finish at all. Just
prepare your stock for finishing carefully and use whatever high luster
finish you want. Note that high luster does not necessarily mean high
gloss, though high gloss will help. An oil finish can add luster
without filling the pores or building up a thick film.
I suggest going with no dye at all. I recently finished a jewelry box
for my wife with a similar figure, using the following technique. After
sanding to 320, flood the entire piece with boiled linseed oil to pop
the grain. Let it sit for 20-25 minutes, then wipe with a clean cotton
cloth--old T-shirts work well. Let it dry for at least a week, then use
the finish of choice.
I used blonde shellac, but an amber would deepen the piece just a bit.
Experiment on a piece of scrap first. (The late, great Paul Radovanic
said that if you don't experiment on scrap you'll be doing it on the
project) The first coat should be a "light" cut, maybe one pound or even
less, to soak, then thicker coats, the more the better. You'll sand with
400 or steel wool with 0000 between coats, of course. As an alternative,
use Bulls-Eye shellac in a can. Good stuff.
Shellac is tricky on large pieces since it dries so fast that it can
crinkle a bit, but that's easy to sand away. Heavier cuts are a bit
easier to finish. Watch for runs and use a good bristle brush. See
either Flexner's or Dresdner's books for tips.
If you want a picture of the jewelry box, email me.
I finished a desk with a wash of 1/3 sweet gum turpentine (not mineral
spirits or thinner) 1/3 3# cut shellac, and 1/3 tung. It lit up the
flames and waves like the wood was on fire. BTW, I go that recipe here
many years ago.
I now have tried changing out the tung for BLO, and have liked on some
pieces as it gives it a more amber glow. This is very forgiving, and
the measurements don't need to be exact.
After experimenting further, I can creat the appearance you are after
with 50% sweet gum turps and 50% 3# shellac. I don't know why, but
just cutting the shellac with 100% denatured alcohol doesn't seem to
give the penetration as this kind of turnpentine. Apply, wait a few
hours, light sand, apply, and sand for final finish.
Put this stuff on, let it cure out (you can also build this stuff!),
then put on a few coats of your favorite lacquer, and you are there. I
have put shellac, varnish, and poly over many recipes of this brew with
no problem at all. In fact, it even makes a good prefinish
I agree with the above comments on the prep. If the wood is so smooth
you are reluctant to put a finish on it, then it will "light up"
properly. Without proper prep, it will be mediocre at best.
I have been in many paint stores over the years and I don't
recall seeing a "sweet gum" turpentine.
Where and what brand are you buying ???
Being from N.C., I recall turpentine being made from
pine trees back in the last century. I wouldn't guess
what it is made from now.(apparently still from pine trees)
A sweet gum tree is not a conifer to my knowledge.
Absolutely. Any resinous tree will make some kind of turpentine. The
stuff I bought I found at a local hardware store after a little
searching, and it was in a metal quart can with long needle pine
branches on it.
Here in the south a lot of the old timer still call any kind of
resinous pine that gums up your blades, sandpaper, and resists finish
"some kind of gummy" pine. The sweet gum pine designation is to
acknowledge the fact that they had more than one kind of pine tree in
the brewing and didn't necessarily know what they were.
I opened this stuff up, and instantly I remembered it from helping my
Dad cleaning up the brushes and wiping down projects before painting
them 35 years ago. This stuff is aromatic (this was actually balsamic
turpentine indicating it was made from firs, not pine) and smells like
pine trees with a shot of vodka. Very distinctive.
I remember smelling the petroleum based stuff when it came on the
market about 25 or so years ago when I was on a commercial job. It
smelled like thinned lamp oil and the painters hated it, but it was so
much cheaper than real turpentine their boss bought only the cheap
As far as the brand name, I don't have it. I have a little of my brew
left but the can is long gone. However, more than you wanted to know
about this stuff is here:
For sale here:
Just GOOGLE "gum turpentine" and you will find plenty of exact hits.
Many luthiers still use this for superior finish as opposed to working
with the petroleum stuff.
Search the Fine Woodwarking magazine on their on-line site and search
out articles on the subject such as:
Issue 135 Jeff Jewitt on bringing out the curl in curly maple
Isue 163 Teri Masachi - Three finishes for bird's eye maple - This is
a very good article.
There are any number of other sources such as books by Flexner and
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.