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Curly Maple


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I have been reading some articles concerning the best way to bring out the figuring of figured maple. It is very confusing but here's what I think I got out of it:

1. Never dye/stain the wood directly.

2. Apply some sort of oil to the wood first (after sanding to a high grit)

3. Apply some sort of color to the next level of coating/finish

4. Seal with some sort of clear

It's number 3 that has me confused. What options are there for applying the color? Do you mix a dye with some lacquer or shellac? Will most clear coat types work on top of all of this (nitro, poly, ...)?

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1 = Not True.

I get my BEST results by dying the wood directly. How the hell ya gonna (Mr.) 'stain black then sand back' over top of a finish? B)

Even if you don't wanna do that, I find that water-based anilyne dyes are THE most colorful, I call them the 'comic book colors', and I always use water-based stains directly on the wood to get my basecoat color.

I do, however, sand up to 2000 or 4000 grit on bare wood first, buffing the raw wood up to a true 'mirror' finish first...but there are folks out there who will tell you you shouldn't do THAT, as the finish can't really 'adhere' to the wood properly when it's sanded up that high.

Bullshit. :D

The truth is, there are -lots- of ways to color and bring out the figure of figured Maple, I'm not sure there really is a 'best'. Your quoted way works too, but it's not a good idea to apply any finish directly over oil, you usually have to let the oil dry a looong time first, then apply a de-waxed shellac coat (barrier coat = separation coat) between the oil and nitro or poly.

I did some testing like that, using Tru-Oil first, then shellac, then finish, I didn't notice any particular improvement, although some others may, I don't claim to have the corner on anything, but I don't like using so many different finishes on top of each other, but again, that's just me...

And yes, to get shader coats, you mix alcohol or metallic-based dyes in with shellac or lacquer or poly, that's how I do my edge 'bursting. If you are using water-based finish, you use water-based dyes mixed in with them to get your toners, or 'shader' coats...

You can (and I have experimented with) doing the whole thing in water-based dyes before applying any finish at all , base coat and bursting, all in waterbased dyes on bare wood, but I've found I like my 'bursts better when shot as a shader mixed in with my lacqer, and my basecoats in water-based dye applied directly to the wood. Again, just my way...

When you mix shaders in with your finish, you are always darkening up the look, even with transparent dyes, the more you shoot, the more you are 'covering up' the wood, and I don't like to do that either, only when doing 'bursts, but that's just the way I've found that I'm happy with.

There are lots of other ways... :D

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Hi Daveq,

#1: As Drak said: Not true. The big builders put the dyes in their lacquer rather than directly on the wood because it is cheaper and easier than staining the wood directly. But the results are very different.

#2: The answer is maybe. If you use a waterbased dye as Drak and I do, then you CAN NOT use oil at all. You can use an oil based dye if you want and then lacquer, and some people use oil with no lacquer at all.

#3: I use clear nitro only, but then I stain my wood directly.

#4: Again, the answer is maybe. It all depends on what you put underneat. If you are using a tinted lacquer, you might or might not want to clear coat for the last coat, but you don't need to.

If you want, take a look at Ed's World and compare what you see with Warmoth.

But in the end result, what you really need to do is practice :D on some scrap wood until you get the results that you want.

Guitar Ed

Advice worth what you paid for it. Nothing.

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Well, thanks for the replies. If you look at the mimf archives, you will see a whole bunch of people saying that #1 is very important to bringing out the most figure.

As usual (with finishing), I'm frustrated and confused. At this point, I guess I'm just going to go with the quicker/easier method which I think is the one that is posted here in one of the tutorials. I'm not saying that it's easy to do, it just seems easier than what those other people were talking about.

Thanks for the info.


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I don't mind doing something more complicated and don't mind putting the time into it. After spending months working on it, I don't want to just wimp out on the finishing. I DO mind trying something complicated when I don't seem to have all of the facts - which seems to be the case here.

If using the simpler method results in a great looking finish, I'm all for it. If not, then I'm going to be pretty pissed with myself for not asking more questions and trying to find the "right" way to do it.

Thanks again for the replies.

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