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Thread: Best way to finish Maple

  1. #1
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    Default Best way to finish Maple

    I've been looking at various books I have, but I'd like to ask you guys/gals what is the best way to finish maple either for a natural look or in a stained look.

    I read that for a natural look, an oil poly will yellow over time versus a water based poly. I've also read, that a dye type stain is better than a pigment type stain as pigment type stains do not penetrate into the tight maple grain. I've also read that NGR stains are one of the best chpoice when staining maple.

    I'd like to also know some of the other "Do's and Don'ts" in regards to staining/finishing maple that can be shared.
    Kevin

  2. #2

    Default Re: Best way to finish Maple

    Hi Kevin,
    I have had good results spraying ( & not wiping ) dye stains. I normally use Transtint dyes from Homestead Finishing or the Woodessence equilivent. I generally use water as the carrier. I don't find grain raising to be a problem, however, they mix well with ethanol if you do.
    If the client wants a very rich colour I use a wiping stain after the dye and an application of Sealcoat. Pigmented stains stick quite well to the Sealcoat.
    For topcoating I often use Target WB products. Most of these can be tinted with the above mentioned dyes for toning too.
    Cheers, JG

    ps- I hope for Mike's sake that I haven't made any spelling mistakes

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Best way to finish Maple

    Kevin, for a natural look I don't think you can do better than polymerized tung oil.

    I really like the way it looks on my workbench. Margaret accuses me of finishing my bench better than I finish the furniture that I have made for our house -and she is correct.
    Cheers,
    Frank

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Best way to finish Maple

    Quote Originally Posted by Lost in the Woods View Post

    I read that for a natural look, an oil poly will yellow over time versus a water based poly. I've also read, that a dye type stain is better than a pigment type stain as pigment type stains do not penetrate into the tight maple grain. I've also read that NGR stains are one of the best chpoice when staining maple.
    Kevin!

    As usual in finishing, there is no single answer. A lot depends on how much figure is in the wood, what you want the end result to be, how much time you are prepared to devote to the finishing process, what type of finish you use and how you apply it.
    As Frank pointed out, for a natural finish, the simplest is an oil, and from the pics of his workbench, it looks as good as a lot of dining tables I've refinished!!
    Oil based poly will yellow and waterbased poly is, IMHO, too insipid for maple. The same goes for lacquers, the solvent based will enhance the grain and, depending on the type, may or may not yellow. Waterbased lacquers will generally look like the wb poly, although there are brands out there that have an amber tone, and can look pretty nice. Big advantage for those without spray set ups is the wb can be hand applied.
    Shellac is also a good choice to bring out subtle features, comes in a variety of colours, is relatively easy to apply, can be readily repaired but has limitations as to where it should be used as a topcoat.
    In general, dyes will give better results than pigment stains in terms of reduced blotching. You can add small amounts of either dye or pigment stain to your finish, or sealer, to get a nice even colour. This is a relatively quick, simple procedure to get good results, and is a good way to liven up the wb finishes. I use this method on all the pine furniture I build, and it works extremely well.
    JG's method is a good way to get great results too, and I've done it many times when refinishing a piece that had to match existing furniture in a room.
    If you have the time and the wood has a lot of figure that you want to enhance, then applying multiple coats of dye and sanding back once dry, can give spectacular results, especially if you start with the darkest colour and finish with the lightest. In general, waterbased dyes give more vibrant results than NGR's or Microtons. I believe Mike in London used this method on the top of his prize winning table. The most dazzling examples I've ever seen of this technique on maple, are on guitars, where the colours look alive.
    As always make lots of samples to see which look you like best.
    Hope this starts the ball rolling for you..............Paul
    Last edited by Paul O in Paris; 10-02-2008 at 09:54 AM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Best way to finish Maple

    I just used some Deft Danish Oil Finish (clear "Natural) from LV. On one side I used 100% Tung Oil and on the other I used the above. I really like the Danish Oil and it did pop the figure which I was hoping it would do. I would say that the results were close to the same for the two sides of my piece but the Danish Oil side has a but more luster, was WAY faster to work with and feels a little dryer...

    Both gave me a nice satin type sheen, with an awesome smooth silky feel. I'm going to try the polymerized tung oil next as suggested above.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Best way to finish Maple

    All maple finishers... I'm in the middle of making a large dining table out of pocket maple (think it's called that, has dark holes in it from a vine growing into the wood), looks great, now
    I 'm at the fast approaching dilemma stage of finishing, have been toying with the idea of transtint dyes, have a couple of colors on hand, not sure what the best approach on this to give it a darker look. Should I first be putting down a washout of water (distilled) let it dry, 120 sand then put down a darker dye? I have that 'tobacco brown color' not sure what comes next and it's putting me in a cautious mode right now. Does sealing that come next once the color is where I want it? What about this ' blotching' that I have heard so many people speak of? You sound like you have worked with maple and how to best finish it, I would really appreciate you shedding some ideas on it for me, tks so much. Also, just watched a young woodworker and his Wood Whisperer program, he was putting down shellac first then the color, then sealing, then finishing, check out his site if you want, very well done. This again guys, greg http://thewoodwhisperer.com/73-coloring-blotchy-woods/
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by gfee; 10-26-2010 at 12:03 PM. Reason: adding more information

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Best way to finish Maple

    first thing I am going to do is follow mr simpsons advice for a post in 2006, wet it down, let dry and sand to fix any damaged grains, will check it out again, and wet it again and sand. Spoke to a finisher of 31 years he said, works with maple a lot, western is not as bad as the eastern species, but he does the sanding carefully, puts the stain down, seals it and applies more to areas needing it, tops with lacer, the place was 'Once was a tree' in vancouver. Mowhawk told me shellac is just a conditioner. boy is finishing an art in itself!

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    Default Re: Best way to finish Maple

    Quote Originally Posted by Lost in the Woods View Post
    I read that for a natural look, an oil poly will yellow over time versus a water based poly.
    I finished my maple kitchen cupboard doors/frames with Varathane WB poly about 7 or 8 years ago hoping they would not yellow over time. They still look great, and I'd probably not realize the difference except for the following. I had also replaced the window trim with maple. The nail holes were patched to match the finish at the time -- these nail holes are currently a lot whiter than the maple cupboards. In summary, either the hole filler turned whiter over time (NOT), or the maple definitely yellowed a touch.

    If you decide to go for a real dark finish, I think that dye is the best method. I've tried getting a dark finish on birch (similar to maple) using regular stains (Minwax), and never did get the dark finish that I wanted.

    ...Wayne

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Best way to finish Maple

    A little while ago, on the "Learn a newbie about oil" thread, Shrlok posted some advice about a finish using equal parts boiled linseed oil, raw tung oil, and polyurethane. (http://forum.canadianwoodworking.com...ad.php?t=35013)

    I've just finished a maple dining room bench with it, and am VERY happy with how it is turning out (I'll post pictures soon, once I have another coat or two on). I know that doesn't really address any of the questions about dye, but I have always prefered wood natural anyways.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Best way to finish Maple

    thanks for comments, look forward to your shots, trying some samples tomorrow using several of the various processes with maple, firstly really taking note of sanding and raising grain up and down.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Best way to finish Maple

    Quote Originally Posted by gfee View Post
    thanks for comments, look forward to your shots, trying some samples tomorrow using several of the various processes with maple, firstly really taking note of sanding and raising grain up and down.
    Greg -- I use a spray stain from ML Campbell and it really makes the grain shimmer when top coated with lacquer. There is no need to go through any grain raising after sanding to 180 or 220. There is absolutely no blotching and it looks great. It's very easy to use and can be controlled by the number of coats put on.
    DSC_0018.jpg

    DSC_0041.jpg

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Best way to finish Maple

    nice work, especially like the centre wainscot door panel, almost looks burgundy or cherry color. Back to the maple stuff, unfortunately don't have spray gear, so that is out. talk to me about lacquer, talked to another finisher, he uses nothing but lacquer, of course he was spraying too. can a cut sealcoat be put down on raw then the stain?

  13. #13

    Default Re: Best way to finish Maple

    Quote Originally Posted by gfee View Post
    nice work, especially like the centre wainscot door panel, almost looks burgundy or cherry color. Back to the maple stuff, unfortunately don't have spray gear, so that is out. talk to me about lacquer, talked to another finisher, he uses nothing but lacquer, of course he was spraying too. can a cut sealcoat be put down on raw then the stain?
    You don't want to put a coat of lacquer on first as it will just hide the grain. I think that ML Campbell makes a wipe on stain the same as the spray stain. It is called Woodsong 2 -- I think. Brian @ Muir uses it I think. Maybe he can chime in or you could PM him. Lacquer needs to be sprayed IMHO to get a proper finish.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Best way to finish Maple

    It would be interesting to see some photos of experiments if anyone in this thread does any. maybe it is just me but I seem to see a lot of the commercial prefinished doors and such where the color is just too consistent, I mean wood naturally has some light and some dark places, but they seem to aim at averaging the tone out which tends to give a boring effect.

    This idea of using a darker stain and some light sanding then a lighter stain has me thinking. It just might help to give that antiqued look as sanding will naturally cut a little deeper on corners and edges, as opposed to recessed areas like near where panels meet rails etc. in other words the sanding techniques might simulate natural wear found on an older piece, where exposed corners see a bit more wear and nicks and crannys get darker.

    Will these techniques fail if veneer plywood is used?, Sanding is very limited without danger of breaking through, and they have a pretty consistent surface to start with.

    Phil
    “The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” -Bertrand Russell

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    Default vancouver stair refinishing

    Nice thread guys. We'll try to throw this a reference in our wood stair refinishing section later this week. Keep posting like this.

    _____________________
    vancouver stair refinishing

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