Reply by MPython

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Posted on Need tips on finishing curly maple to a nice brown for flag display case

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316 posts in 726 days

#1 posted 05-22-2019 12:57 PM

I’ve had good luck coloring curly maple with Trans Tint dyes. Before applying the dye, I apply a “wash coat” of Seal Coat shellac cut in half with denatured alcohol (DNA), I.E., dilute the Seal Coat as it comes from the can by half with alcohol. This gives you about a 1# cut that is very thin. Sand the maple to 320 or 400, then apply the wash coat. As soon as it is good and dry (it dries very quickly) sand it with 320 or 400 grit paper. The thin shellac soaks into the figured grain and partially seals it so it won’t absorb too much dye and turn out blotchy. I mix Medium Brown Trans Tint with Dark Mission Brown Trans Tint until I get the color I want. Make a “rubber” to apply the dye. Take an 8” square of lint-free cotton (an old, well-washed T shirt works fine). Make a ball about the size of a golf ball or a little larger of either cotton cloth or cheesecloth, place it in the middle of the square, wrap the cloth around it and tie it off with a piece of string so you have a ball of cloth wrapped and tied inside a piece of lint-free cloth. Soak the ball with dye. I put the dye in a plastic squeeze bottle so it’s easy to squirt what you need on the rubber – you’ll need to continually soak the rubber with the dye. Gently rub the dye on the sealed maple. Move quickly to cover the entire surface because it dries fast and will streak if you’re not careful and quick. The ball of cloth inside the rubber acts as a reservoir for there dye. Squeeze the rubber as you apply it to release more dye, and recharge it as necessary. Put on lite coats and repeat until you get the color you’re looking for. When it is completely dry, sand lightly with 320 or 400 grit paper. The sanding will remove some of the dye from the straight grain and leave the curly grain darker, accenting the curl. Finish with an oil based finish. Don’t use shellac as a final finish. The alcohol in the shellac will dissolve the dye and move it around where you don’t want it. An oil based finish won’t do that. As others have recommended, try all of this on scraps of maple until you get the effect you want before applying to to your workpiece. Experimenting on your workpiece almost always leads to disappointment.

Here’a photo of a curly maple chest of drawers I built for my daughter thatI dyed using this method. I wanted it to finish a light color with the curl accented so I didn’t apply much dye. You can achieve a darker overall finish or adjust the color by mixing the dyes to get the color you want (including Dark Reddish Brown TransTint to add a little red if you like) and apply more of it (repeated thin coats) to get the depth of color you want. Go slow and sneak up on the the end result you’re looking for.

Good luck.

Here is a better view. I couldn’t get it to post from Flickr.

[url=][img][/img][/url][url=]IMG_1622[/url] by [url=[email protected]/]Hank Knight[/url], on Flickr

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