Sofa Table from tension wood #5: Preliminary finishing work

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Blog entry by cathyb posted 06-18-2018 11:21 PM 3401 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: leg attachment Part 5 of Sofa Table from tension wood series Part 6: more finishing work »

Today I am doing preliminary finish work.

I like to have three coats of finish on all pieces before final assembly.

It is at this point I address the negative and positive faces of book-matched wood.

Experiment number one:

Add sealer to the darker side and then finish to the lighter side, under the assumption that the darker side would absorb more finish and create the contrast. From the picture above, you can see this did not work.

Experiment two (this is the nice thing about having a matching top and shelf), add sealer to the board. Immediately wipe on a thin coat of stain. Let this go for twelve hours.
So far, this looks pretty nice. The contrast is significantly diminished.

I hope this helps others with book-matched faces defeating your efforts…


-- cathyb, Hawaii,

7 comments so far

View swirt's profile


6358 posts in 4137 days

#1 posted 06-19-2018 02:01 AM

Interesting experiment. I like the results.

-- Galootish log blog,

View builtinbkyn's profile


3028 posts in 2106 days

#2 posted 06-19-2018 02:30 AM

Following along from your original post about dealing with uncooperative wood Cathy. I like your methods and your detailed explanations. Looking forward to seeing the final results.

-- Bill, Yo! Brooklyn & Steel City :)

View vonhagen's profile


549 posts in 3530 days

#3 posted 06-19-2018 02:43 AM

It’s going to be beautiful Cathy.

-- no matter what size job big or small do a job right or don't do it at all.

View DocSavage45's profile


9053 posts in 4008 days

#4 posted 06-19-2018 03:30 AM

Hey Cathy,

Are you using a 5 pound sealer coat? More than one coat of sealer? Is the stain water borne or mineral spirits based? Which wood is more porous?

Thanks for your blog sharing the shop with my mentor Murphy.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View cathyb's profile


844 posts in 4409 days

#5 posted 06-19-2018 05:53 AM

Hi guys,
Thank you for your support. For my finish, I use General finishes: seal-a-cell clear for my sealer; warm cherry oil based stain; and my top coat is arm-r-seal oil and urethane topcoat, semi-gloss. This afternoon, I lightly sanded the sealer and finish off the shelf applied this morning. I sanded by hand up to 220 grit. Then, in the same manner as the top, I applied a coat of the sealer. The sealer seems to soak in and feel dry to touch almost immediately. Then without any hesitation, I added the cherry stain and wiped off any excess. Done until tomorrow to see what happens when I add the urethane.

I took photos of this, but I can’t seem to upload these. I’ll add them tomorrow.

After reading about approaches to deal with the negative and positive faces of book-matched wood, I went with the thread that there would be too much absorption of the finish on one face versus the other. Of course, there would definitely be more to this in curly wood. One feature of curly koa is how it captures the light and almost dances, I think this finishing technique will definitely dampen this effect, but the alternative is worse. So far, I am
optimistic the result will be satisfactory. We’ll see.

Tomorrow is another day….

-- cathyb, Hawaii,

View Boxguy's profile


2898 posts in 3433 days

#6 posted 06-19-2018 08:27 AM

Cathy, I see you ended with a quote from Gone With the Wind. The Koa is beautiful and you have done an excellent job of evening up the color. Most of the chatoyance may well come back with the finish. I wonder if over time the color on the two halves will un-match. We’ll see because “after all…tomorrow is another day.” I enjoy reading your posts and adventures in woodworking. Thanks for sharing this with us.

-- Big Al in IN

View cathyb's profile


844 posts in 4409 days

#7 posted 06-23-2018 08:09 PM

Hi Al,

I am slowing making progress. I hope the chatoyance doesn’t come back, but I gave it my best shot….so far, it still looks good.

Have a great day!


-- cathyb, Hawaii,

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