Yep, wood like that still exists. I've made several pieces out of
comparable wood. Here's one example:
(a couple of others on that webpage are similar)
Believe it or not the curly is less expensive for me than many other
woods (for example it's comparable to good quality cherry for me, both
are pushing $8 a bf).
Much of the maple I've seen with figure like that is a softer maple (the
lumber contact I have calls it "red leaf" soft maple). At least in my
source, the hard maple tends to have a finer curl pattern than does the
You could darken the curl that way by using a dark amber or brown dye
followed by oil and shellac. Maybe in an antique piece they used
linseed oil which is naturally darkening with time.
On all the cherry I've ever done (either figured or plain), I've always
used oil+shellac or a wiping finish like Waterlox. I always tend toward an
oil-containing finish to improve figure. Perhaps others will post a
suggestion as well.
It sounds like a beautiful cabinet. Good luck with it -- I hope you'll
post a picture or two when you are done.
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