Maple Lazy Susan

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Project by Gary Fixler posted 02-28-2009 04:20 PM 4322 views 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I finished! The few posts in the brief series are here.

I also put together a video of how the finish looks rotated around in some various lighting. I’d like to do that with write-ups on how I’ve finished things from now on to build up a helpful library of how particular finish schedules on particular wood species look ‘live.’

Full set of pictures and some writeup here at Flickr

These shots show the holographic depth I got from the finish as I turn it under fluorescent lamps:

holographic maple finish shot 1

holographic maple finish shot 2

holographic maple finish shot 3

And now for reference, here’s the finishing procedure, the first part of which is from the blog posts…

1) sand lightly to about 220-grit, and tack away dust
2) pad coat with Zinsser® Bulls Eye® SealCoat™, a dewaxed shellac (from Home Depot)
3) wait 45 minutes
4) repeat steps 1 and 2
5) sand again w/ 220 to remove glossiness/even out coat, then tack off dust
6) spray a light coat of Helmsman spar urethane (bottom, then sides, then top – also from Home Depot)
7) let dry for more than 4 hours (overnight for me here)
8) repeat 5-7 (very light sanding for 5)
9) one final, light spray with spar urethane, no sanding beforehand
10) after drying thoroughly, went over it very lightly with very fine steel wool to smooth it out
11) polished it up with some citrus wood polish
12) let dry for 24 hours before using (it’ll be tacky (less and less so) for the first 10-15)

I’m not sure I’d recommend steps 10 or 11. There’s a little bit of a matte finish to the semi-gloss spar urethane, almost like tiny raised bumps everywhere. I was trying to smooth that out a bit without leaving any marks. I managed not to leave marks, and to even out some areas that were slightly off from others, but it still felt like I should have simply upped the number of coats and sandings to really get a pro-level look. I was out of time, and wanted to get the project to my client (office manager) by Friday morning (this morning), so I’d be done, and on to other things.

It being my first project finished of ‘09, I got to update the year on my electric brand (from Rockler) and stamp it, which is always fun. The test scrap is the same maple, and I did several tests – as always – until I could get all of it to burn to the same level. It can be tricky:

HAND CRAFTED BY Gary Fixler brand

The finish looked way better than pretty much any finish I’ve managed so far, so that was great. I hope the video helps. I had tried rubbing teak oil into a scrap piece of the same maple – from the same plank – and it just killed the grain. It evened it all out, and made it look dull, and soggy. I don’t think teak oil is right for maple at all, unless it’s used over other things, like maybe a watered-down dye burnished in to first make the grain pop, then the teak oil, but I don’t know why it would be necessary at all at that point, plus it takes 3+ days to dry before you can topcoat.

Speaking of top coats… that’s why I used dewaxed shellac – Zinsser® (available at Home Depot) sells this as SealCoat™. If it has wax, topcoats don’t stick well, so regular old shellac is a bad idea under them.

I hope this helps anyone wanting to finish something made of hard maple quickly by presenting a nice alternative that can be done in about 2 days, total. You only need 45 minutes between SealCoat™ layers, and 4 hours between spar urethane layers. I did 2 of each, for about 10 hours worth of finishing, almost all of that drying time. Oh, and I used painter's pyramids from Rockler, which made things a lot easier.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

7 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4238 days

#1 posted 02-28-2009 04:47 PM

Gary, this turned out to be a really nice project. This has been an interesting project to follow and the video looks good as well.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4555 days

#2 posted 02-28-2009 05:09 PM

Gary -

This has been a fun blog to follow. Excellent job! I enjoyed the write-up of your process, photos & video.

That beautiful holographic effect is called chatoyance. You did a wonderful job of maximizing that aspect of hard maple.

The Folding Rule Blog


View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4089 days

#3 posted 02-28-2009 05:58 PM

Gary, thats a neat idea.

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 3798 days

#4 posted 03-01-2009 02:06 AM

Scott, David, and CJIII – thanks for the kind words.

David – thanks for the new word! I’ll have to speak of chatoyance from now on to lend an air of credibility to my discussions on woodworking. I just might impress a few more friends and coworkers into hiring me for small projects :)

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View gizmodyne's profile


1780 posts in 4506 days

#5 posted 03-01-2009 04:54 PM

This came out nice. I enjoyed reading your blog on the process too.

Don’t let them store syrup on your project. It frightens the maple.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View degoose's profile


7255 posts in 3771 days

#6 posted 05-24-2009 01:31 AM

Nice use of the maple and I love the way that the “chatoyance” shimmers in the varying positions [almost pearlescent]. I noticed in the video the bearing is a little noisy,, I have found that a drop of chainsaw bar lube oil on the ball bearings will quieten this down considerably.

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View a1Jim's profile


117652 posts in 3993 days

#7 posted 05-24-2009 04:27 AM

good blog Gary looks wonderful nice figure too.

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