Help finishing a cherry/curly maple cabinet with 3 criteria

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Forum topic by BigRedd posted 03-02-2008 12:12 AM 2984 views 1 time favorited 1 reply Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 4243 days

03-02-2008 12:12 AM

Hi everybody. I’ve been reading the forums the last couple of days (as well as a bunch of other resources) looking for info on how best to finish a cherry and curly maple entertainment center I built about a year ago (it’s been sitting in the basement of my city rowhouse because I just haven’t had time (or the space) to finish it (it was built in a woodworking shop in connection with an adult education class)). In any event, my family is in the process of moving and I’ve decided that now is the time to finish it (lest it get moved to the basement of the new place and sit there for another year or more).

The three criteria I’m seeking in the finish are:

1) Ease of application – I’m a rookie and pressed for time while moving with two young kids (including a 6 week old)
2) Non-yellowing – I’m trying to keep both wood species as close to the “raw” as possible while protecting and, with the curly maple, popping the grain a little
3) Not plasticky – I imagine that to get protection, I’ll need to run some risk of a plasticky look – but I’d appreciate advice on how best to avoid.

Based on posts here and other info from the web, my present plan is as follows:

1) Zinnser Sealcoat #2 shellac for 2 or 3 coats on the whole piece, sanding with 220 grit in between coats
2) Water-based poly (Varathane?) over the shellac – maybe just on the top of the piece where the TV will sit.

Any advice on how this approach will meet my criteria? Would it be wise to skip the poly on the sides and interior of the cabinet and only put the poly on the top where it’s needed? I’m thinking that that might help avoid a plasticky look on the whole piece. If I forego the poly on the rest of the piece, is there some other top-coat I should put over the shellac? Maybe General Finishes Seal-a-Cell? Finally, can I use a Porter-Cable sander to sand between coats or do I need to hand sand?

Apologies in advance for all the questions. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

1 reply so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4327 days

#1 posted 03-02-2008 02:46 AM

Hi Bigredd,

When I finish cherry I generally apply a penetrating oil such as Danish oil or boiled linseed oil (blo). I prefer danish oil to blo because it cures faster. Once this is cured I topcoat with a varnish or poly. But you will need to do the entire piece and not just the top.

I normally put shellac on as either a sealer over stain or as a top coat. But you could just use it on as a finish coat as well. Just recognize that it isn’t as durable as poly nor will it withstand water or other spills such as alcohol.

But hand sand between coats if you use poly. All you need is a very light sanding to rough up the top layer of poly for the next coat to adhere to. A power sander will burn right through your finish so leave it in the drawer.

For the maple if you want to “pop the grain” you might want to go to Mark gives a video on this subject. It is episode #32. USCJeff had a forum on this subject as well.

Hope this helps.

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

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