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Another Dreaded Botched Maple Debacle

by djrusselp
posted 11-12-2018 04:00 AM


31 replies so far

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

5424 posts in 2868 days


#1 posted 11-12-2018 04:12 AM

You didn’t try it on some test boards first?

In all your reading did no one mention blotch control? Blotch control products or homemade blotch concoctions.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

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djrusselp

18 posts in 982 days


#2 posted 11-12-2018 04:28 AM

I did pull an internal piece, also maple, and tried it on that (sanded to 220, etc). One side on top of a pre-stain conditioner and the other with just oil. There was little if any difference that I could see, but the piece wasn’t huge (maybe 2.5×12”). No blotch in either sample. I was told more than once and read more than once I’d be fine if I went with the “natural” oil, too. It was anything with “color” I needed to worry about, the advice went. As I’m sure you know, for every one article/website saying no worries, there’s another saying you’d better. Danish Oil under the bridge now, of course. Lesson learned. So what’s my play? Thanks.

View lumbering_on's profile

lumbering_on

578 posts in 1049 days


#3 posted 11-12-2018 04:43 AM

Maple is notorious for being blotchy, in fact, the quilted look is due to a desirable blotching of the maple. Unfortunately, it’s obviously not a good look in other areas of the wood you have. You may want to watch Charles Neil’s videos on blotch control. He has his own product that is the best control you’ll find, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy it, if you don’t want to. The information is still the best I’ve seen on why stain blotches, and the limitation of blotch control.

As for what you can do, several things come to mind, but none of them are pretty. Probably stripping off the oil and starting over would be your best bet.

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

5424 posts in 2868 days


#4 posted 11-12-2018 06:07 AM

Do a search right here on LJ for ’’blotch control’’ in the search box.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View EarlS's profile

EarlS

3299 posts in 2907 days


#5 posted 11-12-2018 01:07 PM

Cherry can have the same problem, as can walnut.

Sander sealer seems to be the best approach for blotching, but even then you might seem some blotches, just not as bad.

General Finshes has Seal-A-Cell or Zinnser sanding sealer both work well for me before using a stain, Watco, or finish.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View Kirk650's profile

Kirk650

676 posts in 1308 days


#6 posted 11-12-2018 01:21 PM

After much testing on scrap, the Charles Neil blotch controller (not what he actually calls it) was the one that worked on the maple toy chest I made. For best results, it needs to be used as directed, so read the directions carefully.

View djrusselp's profile

djrusselp

18 posts in 982 days


#7 posted 11-12-2018 05:55 PM

Thanks for the heads up on Charles Neil’s product. Big help. I watched a vid and plan to order a jug. My main question is what you guys would suggest as a finish this time around given that I want to keep it natural, or at least light, while also bringing out the figure. The Danish Oil was a little too “amber/orange” for my taste, at least as I applied it. Any suggestions there? I’d like to do something with a little more character than just a few coats of poly.

View Andybb's profile

Andybb

2219 posts in 1163 days


#8 posted 11-12-2018 06:03 PM


My main question is what you guys would suggest as a finish this time around given that I want to keep it natural, or at least light, while also bringing out the figure.
- djrusselp

For bringing out the figure in maple I used Chas. Neil’s trace coating technique and General Finish oil based semi gloss. Posted about it here. Once it’s dry I used .0000 steel wool so it has that “natural” wood feel.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

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djrusselp

18 posts in 982 days


#9 posted 11-12-2018 07:59 PM

That’s fabulous. Thanks a ton for sharing.

View Andybb's profile

Andybb

2219 posts in 1163 days


#10 posted 11-12-2018 10:48 PM


That s fabulous. Thanks a ton for sharing.

- djrusselp


You might also want to contact Charles. (member here). The trace coating technique is like the reverse of blotch control in a way because it actually accentuates the figure rather than blocking it. What is blotch (I think) is the stain adhering to different textures of the wood, which is what the figure is. Seems that if you blotch control it that will hamper trying to enhance the figure so they might be mutually exclusive. I’m a newbie so that is why I suggest contacting Charles. He’s good about responding. Maybe PM him with a link to this thread.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View djrusselp's profile

djrusselp

18 posts in 982 days


#11 posted 11-13-2018 03:09 AM

I’ll do that. After watching both the blotch control and trace coating vid(s), that’s what I’m thinking: How can you both sharpen the figure with trace, while also controlling for blotch? Do do like what it does to the figure, though.

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

4600 posts in 4301 days


#12 posted 11-13-2018 04:00 AM

Challenge is that sanding doesn’t get rid of all the sealer, so what worked well on ‘raw wood’ with the Watco, isn’t great for refinishing… unless it was a raw oil finish before.

The Charles Neil Blotch control is great, as is a shellac.

Likely going to need to use (if not the Charles Neil stuff) some kind of sealer like seal a cell, or a light cut of shellac to make the finish absorption more even…. you have a situation where some areas are sealed, and others you will have sanded through the sealer… so blotch is obviously a huge battle for refinishing.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View CharlesNeil's profile

CharlesNeil

2499 posts in 4430 days


#13 posted 11-13-2018 01:48 PM

There are 2 ways to use trace coating

1st.. on regular wood, apply a very light coat , the term is a “dry” coat, just enough to give a light color to the wood , you dont want to get it wet with the dye or food coloring,
I often will wipe the piece with some water to raise the grain and immediately apply the trace coat, the water will act somewhat like a blotch control to prevent getting too much color on, all you want is a light coat to act as a rod map for your sanding , it will show you any defects , scratches , etc, when the trace is gone your done.

2nd….. this is for figured woods , as in curly, quilted , etc.
her its total opposite of the 1st , you want to apply wet coat of dye , then sand , i usually start at 120 , when you have pretty much removed the trace, ...( dont need to remove all , as it w3ill be getting another 180 grit sanding)
then repeat with a wet coat and sand to 180 then your ready to do a final dye and topcoats.

As stated above the object here is make it blotch as much as possible, in this case the blotch is attractive , so we want to enhance it. This technique not only gives you the road map, but allows the figure to be dyed 3 x times .
I often will use a slightly darker dye for the trace, this works well.

View CharlesNeil's profile

CharlesNeil

2499 posts in 4430 days


#14 posted 11-13-2018 01:59 PM

As to handling the table that is now soaked in oil, this is tough, the oil really like to soak in,
if the oil has dried all you can do is sand it down really well and wipe it with some water or mineral spirits to see if the blotch has been removed .
Another option and possibly the one needed is a chemical stripper to dissolve the oil .Doubt either will be 100%

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2450 posts in 2549 days


#15 posted 11-13-2018 03:48 PM

Of the 50 or so articles you read you must have missed this one on blotch control. Another one on that page for blo, oils, and poly wipe on finishing.

View djrusselp's profile

djrusselp

18 posts in 982 days


#16 posted 11-13-2018 04:25 PM

Thanks, Charles. As to your last post, I did use a stripper on it, which appears to have got about 65% of it out. If I said through the rest, then treat it with your blotch control, should I be okay for whatever finish I want to go with from there? Or are you saying that the old oil will still cause problems? Thanks again for everyone’s help on this.

View Bill Berklich's profile

Bill Berklich

966 posts in 948 days


#17 posted 11-13-2018 04:38 PM


My main question is what you guys would suggest as a finish this time around given that I want to keep it natural, or at least light, while also bringing out the figure.
- djrusselp

For bringing out the figure in maple I used Chas. Neil s trace coating technique and General Finish oil based semi gloss. Posted about it here. Once it s dry I used .0000 steel wool so it has that “natural” wood feel.

- Andybb

Wow – that’s beautiful.

-- Bill - Rochester MI

View CharlesNeil's profile

CharlesNeil

2499 posts in 4430 days


#18 posted 11-13-2018 04:43 PM

Djrussel
Yes you should be fine
My only convern was that the oil can get in pretty deep
Thus the wipe with water to see how it looks

View djrusselp's profile

djrusselp

18 posts in 982 days


#19 posted 11-13-2018 04:52 PM

For what it’s worth, here’s where I’m at after hitting the Danish Oil with a methylene chloride stripper. My plan at this point is to sand out the rest to the degree I can, treat with the blotch control, and finish it as close to natural or a light color as possible. I’m a little gun-shy at this point on trying any trace coating. Wondering what to do to achieve that natural or light finish, though.

 photo IMG_9798.jpg

View djrusselp's profile

djrusselp

18 posts in 982 days


#20 posted 11-13-2018 04:56 PM

Thanks, Charles! Off to the races.

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2450 posts in 2549 days


#21 posted 11-13-2018 05:07 PM

Another option is to add just a bit of dye to the new oil to darken it ever so slightly to blend with the deeper old oil, making the previous blotching disappear. The downside is it will require testing of color and concentration to get just right, and I doubt you have any wood to test with. You could use the bottom of the top and the backside of drawer fronts. Those surfaces would need to be finished/stripped etc just as you have already done.


I ll do that. After watching both the blotch control and trace coating vid(s), that s what I m thinking: How can you both sharpen the figure with trace, while also controlling for blotch? Do do like what it does to the figure, though.
- djrusselp

They aren’t completely mutually exclusive. It’s a balancing act – finding the color and intensity that is desired. It takes some experimentation but the results are worth it. Many times you will see a highly figured piece as an insert of some type, where it may be colored separately, with surrounding wood having a much smoother coloring.

The sand back method, same as Charles’ #2 trace coat method, is usually used with highly figured curly, quilted, birdseye, etc grain. For more “standard” grain, conditioning the wood is used to smooth out the more irregular color differences that occur. There is not a right or wrong look – it’s in the eye of the beholder – if it’s your stuff and you are pleased with it, then it’s good. It might help if you posted pictures of something you have seen that has the look you are after.

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djrusselp

18 posts in 982 days


#22 posted 11-13-2018 05:26 PM

Thanks, OSU55. That makes sense. Good to know. There certainly is some nice quilt in some of this wood (not necessarily in that pic), which I hope to bring out as best I can. I’ve got some light brown dye to play with I suppose. I’m not totally sure I want to go back with an oil the second time around, to be honest. I didn’t like the amber look of the DO as much as I thought I might. That said, I probably left it on a little longer that I could have. Lighter coats in the future might be the way to go. I appreciate the feedback.

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CharlesNeil

2499 posts in 4430 days


#23 posted 11-13-2018 05:41 PM

I agree a photo of what your after would be a huge help

View djrusselp's profile

djrusselp

18 posts in 982 days


#24 posted 11-13-2018 06:33 PM

Not a dresser, but I like the look on the frame of this cabinet door (visible grain, gentle sheen, natural/light color). The last two pictures are of some of the figure visible in the drawers I’m working on. It’s not present across the pieces, but it’s there in parts. Still figuring out what I want this time to be honest. I just didn’t like the deep amber I ended up when I finished that initial Danish Oil coat.

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View djrusselp's profile

djrusselp

18 posts in 982 days


#25 posted 11-13-2018 06:33 PM

Not a dresser, but I like the look on the frame of this cabinet door (visible grain, gentle sheen, natural/light color). The last two pictures are of some of the figure visible in the drawers I’m working on. It’s not present across the pieces, but it’s there in parts. Still figuring out what I want this time to be honest. I just didn’t like the deep amber I ended up when I finished that initial Danish Oil coat.

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 photo IMG_9799.jpg

 photo IMG_9800.jpg

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2450 posts in 2549 days


#26 posted 11-13-2018 07:20 PM

That type of coloring can be achieved by conditioning the wood and then using a thinned poly with dye added. It takes some experimenting to get the right conditioner intensity/# of coats, and then the right amount of dye. A light brown dye will cover most if not all the amber in a poly, or sherwin williams fast dry varnish is a non poly with less amber. Read the blogs I linked to prviously. I have a pic of mw poly next to danish oil (which has urethane in it but is still a soft finish). The danish oils have dye added to them and are darker.

It can also be achieved with the sandback method, but for minimal intensity differences like that it isn’t necessary. There are other methods, but I’ve been staying with non spray hand applied methods.

View Rich's profile

Rich

5001 posts in 1149 days


#27 posted 11-13-2018 09:29 PM

I think you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. You have a combination on one board of two grain patterns. They both blotch, but one looks better with blotch and the other doesn’t.

You have to decide, and since the large area of non-figured wood blotches unattractively, my choice would be to give up on trying to deeply enhance the small figured parts. It’s just my opinion, but I would favor consistency over having small strips of highly enhanced figure.

I can’t say how it would work given the oil you already applied, but a simple way to increase the depth of maple is to use sodium carbonate. It’s often used as a laundry additive, so it’s safe, and the excess can be poured down the drain. By itself, it won’t give you the stunning grain patterns Andybb posted, but it does enhance the depth and is compatible with other processes.

Here’s an excerpt about it:

————————————-

Sodium Carbonate

You can call sodium carbonate by its nicknames: soda ash or washing soda or soda crystals or sal soda or even super washing soda! But don’t call sodium carbonate by its cousin’s name of sodium bicarbonate — aka baking soda. They are different compounds and the correct one for coloring wood is sodium carbonate.

Sodium carbonate does not result in a particularly dramatic color change on wood. You may have to up the strength or simply use a different chemical if you want more visual “oomph!” So why would you want to use it? Why wouldn’t you just go straight to your clear coat finish? Well, sodium carbonate offers all the advantages of chemicals that aren’t achievable with just a plain, clear coat finish. Sodium carbonate patinates the wood and accentuates the grain pattern to a much more pronounced degree— look at that ripple on the maple sample!— and enables you to see deeper into the wood. And because sodium carbonate is non-toxic, you can worry a little less if the idea of working with chemicals makes you nervous. Best of all, you can dispose of the solution by dumping it right down the drain!

Recipe for Sodium Carbonate

1 tsp of sodium carbonate
3 oz. hot distilled water
3 oz. cold distilled water

Slowly stir one teaspoon of sodium carbonate into 3 ounces of hot distilled water. Mix until thoroughly dissolved and then add 3 ounces of cold distilled water. Mix thoroughly. Strain this solution into a clean container and apply when it has come to room temperature. Wipe the surface with a rag before the solution dries. Do not sand until after you have applied your first seal coat.

Miller, Brian; Miller, Brian; Crestani, Marci; Crestani, Marci. The Art of Coloring Wood: A Woodworker’s Guide to Understanding Dyes and Chemicals (Kindle Locations 905-909). Linden Publishing. Kindle Edition.

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djrusselp

18 posts in 982 days


#28 posted 01-09-2019 03:16 AM

Hi again everybody. Thought I’d chime back in with some shots of the finished product (finally). General Finishes Light Brown water-based dye cut 50%, many wipe on coats of poly, sanded finer and finer between each. Not a museum piece, but I’m happy with it. Big thanks for all the advice!

IMG_0286IMG_0290IMG_0291IMG_0288IMG_0150IMG_0295IMG_0294

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djrusselp

18 posts in 982 days


#29 posted 01-09-2019 03:23 AM

Oh, and here they are before I started.

49783352_10161561436430554_9060577984469008384_n

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2450 posts in 2549 days


#30 posted 01-09-2019 01:02 PM

Very nice

View builtinbkyn's profile

builtinbkyn

2977 posts in 1500 days


#31 posted 01-09-2019 02:07 PM

I know it was a lot of work and a bit stressful, but your persistence paid of big time. They look great!

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

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