Reply by Dan Lyke

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Posted on Need finish advice/help for Mahogany wood

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Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4630 days

#1 posted 08-26-2010 11:53 PM

There was a Fine Woodworking article last summer that helped me along on this. I’m not sure if I can find it right now, I’ll try to dig it out, but here’s what I did for my kitchen cabinet door panels:

Mahogany is open grained enough that even though I was going for a matte finish, I had a several step process:

1. Sand to 220.
2. Seal it with a thinned dewaxed shellac (ie: Zinnser SealCote cut down with some alcohol).
3. Fill it with a tinted pore filler. I used the Behlens mostly silica filler with Burnt Umber oil paint added. Make sure you test on a piece of scrap, and you may need a few other colors to match it well; the original article also suggested a mixing in another brown oil paint that was slightly yellower than the Burnt Umber, I found that Burnt Umber worked really well. Apply the pore filler with a plastic squeegee (I cut mine from some yoghurt containers) across the grain, don’t worry if you’ve got lots of bits of pore filler on the board yet.
4. Let it dry for about an hour, then wipe it off with a square folded rag (I think the original article used folded cheesecloth), across the grain.
5. Let that dry thoroughly, then apply a polyurethane. I used a hand-rubbed Minwax or something similar.
6. Sand that gently (by hand) with 320, put on another coat.
7. Sand that gently to 400, put on another coat.
8. Put on another coat.

The original article used a sprayed lacquer at step 5 and probably used a different sanding strategy, which I think you’d want for the high gloss.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

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