A Big Finish

Wow!  I love Cherry.  I absolutely adore Walnut!  Why?  Because they machine beautifully.  They can be worked with handtools with minimal effort.  They’re both structurally reliable.  But most of all…All I’ve got to do is throw on a couple of coats of oil or shellac  and I’ve got a beautiful finish.  That’s it.  Done.  End of story.

So why does anyone bother themselves with Maple, especially the curly variety of that species?  It’s hard to plane.  It moves in service.  It usually has a worm hole just where you don’t want a worm hole.  So why bother, when they’re are other domestic species that are so much easier to live with?  Consider Elm.  It’s very dramatic and pretty straight forward to finish (okay, it may be a little hard to find, with the “Blight” and all).  Ash is beautiful and very plentiful.  It takes color well…

Alright.  I know.  Curly Maple is the “challenge” wood for the “real” case work builder.  So I talked to Les.  He knows as much about finishing maple as anyone.  So I decided I want to build a nice little dressing table (lowboy).  I found a couple of pieces of really showy curly maple and decided I’d use them for a top and then do a painted carcass.  So I asked Les to give me his recipe…

I screwed up!  I was supposed to dye first, then a coat of oil.  But I put the BLO on first.  Then I put a “tea coat” of  Honey Amber Transtint dye.  Then I put the “full coat of dye on”.  It was too yellow, looked terrible.  So I put another coat on, then another, then another.  Finally, I called in some additional help.  I conferred with Paul, who agreed that a little Red Mohogany Transtint would bring the yellow around to a little more “orangy” color.  So I did that.  It seemed to work.  Then, I laid on a couple of coats of garnet shellac to act as a sealer.  After that, I laid on some Behlen’s Burnt Umber Glaze.  After “artfully” wiping the glaze away (as Lester would say, I “Rembranted” the surface), I wiped a mix of 1/3 Behlen’s Rockhard and 2/3 Naptha.  Then two more coats of the same.  That’s where I’m at, at the moment…

So, I’m antipating two more coats of Behlen’s Rockhard at full strength (it should be “bulletproof”), then a good rubbing out with parafin oil and rottenstone.  Hopefully, won’t need any wax.  My question is, could you ever convince a client to pay you for all this work?  Oil, shellac and Milk Paint are our friends, right?

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4 Comments on “A Big Finish”

  1. LARRY Says:

    dennis,if i had that many coats on i could sweat 30 pounds off my big backside!

  2. Tom Belcher Says:

    Its a beautiful mistake!

  3. Dustin Says:

    Why do all the sentences start with “So”?
    By the way great blog, I learn something every time I read. I really appreciate the fundamental skills like sharpening and finishing. Keep up the good blog.


  4. […] month ago, or so, I finished up a curly maple top.  It was really an experiment, trying to use a couple of different coloring methods.  The […]


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