Reply by LesB

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Posted on Natural finish

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2983 posts in 4522 days

#1 posted 03-07-2021 06:33 PM

Basic mantra for finishing is TEST, TEST, and TEST again.

I have made a number of things with Sycamore and strangely some of it tends to turn quite dark when I apply a finish. I would definitely not recommend any oil finish. Danish oil is primarily a blend of BLO and or Tung oil and various driers (heavy metals) to speed up the curing.
Your best option is probably a water based varathane. It has no color of it’s own. Based on my experience the water based varathane will darken the wood when applied but then lighten up some as it dries. Test it because I have had some pieces stay rather dark….can’t explain why there is a difference between the different pieces of Sycamore I have worked with.
Because Sycamore tends to be so absorbent you might want to seal it first with a clear de-waxed Shellac…Zinssers Seal Coat is a clear 2# cut de-waxed shellac. The shellac will dry quickly then and lightly and apply the top coat. Shellac is not recommended as the final finish because it does not stand up to water or alcohol (or ammonia). You can clean your shellac brushes with household ammonia and water. As I mull this over in my mind I’m thinking that the shellac sealer might be your best option…but test it first.

Also Sycamore can be a little soft for use on a table top so I would recommend a hard finish for durability and again a water based varathane is a good option, especially the “floor grade” ones. I have used it for that purpose and it is very durable. I also used on wood stairs where it is holding up well.

-- Les B, Oregon

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