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Birdseye Maple and Padauk Finishing Recommendations

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Forum topic by DerekW posted 08-25-2018 12:24 AM 1949 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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DerekW

32 posts in 451 days


08-25-2018 12:24 AM

Topic tags/keywords: birdseye maple padauk finishing shellac danish oil chatoyance

I’m looking for some finishing recommendations for a box I’ve made out of birdseye maple with padauk miter keys and accents. I made 2 boxes and finished the first with Danish oil after some meticulous finish scraping. I achieved some excellent chatoyance with the birdseye maple (and will probably add a few coats of super blonde shellac) but the padauk turned so dark you can hardly tell that it’s red. I’m hoping to finish the last box in a way that keeps the chatoyance of the birdseye maple and preserves the nice red color of the padauk. I’m considering using either super blonde shellac only, General Finishes High Performance Water Based, or lacquer. Any thoughts?


28 replies so far

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TheFridge

10859 posts in 1994 days


#1 posted 08-25-2018 12:35 AM

Sounds like it’d work. Either finishing suggestions would work.

That paduak is going to darken even with uv inhibitors. And it won’t take all that long either.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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Rich

4986 posts in 1098 days


#2 posted 08-25-2018 01:42 AM

Shellac or lacquer will bring out the depth. Waterborne won’t. GFHP is a quality finish, but you’ll never get the pop from waterborne that you will from a solvent based finish.

One trick I learned from the book The Art of Coloring Wood is to use sodium carbonate. It’s safe and often brings out the depth in wood. You always do test pieces of course, and some woods improve more than others. My experience is that figured maple gets a big boost in depth.

-- There are 10 types of people—those who understand binary, and those who don’t

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DerekW

32 posts in 451 days


#3 posted 08-25-2018 11:14 AM

Thanks for the feedback thus far. I have a limited supply of both padauk and birdseye maple so I can’t do the amount of testing that I normally do, but it sounds like I’m on the right track.

Rich, I’ve never heard of using sodium carbonate on wood. Can you explain the process?

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Rich

4986 posts in 1098 days


#4 posted 08-25-2018 02:08 PM


Rich, I ve never heard of using sodium carbonate on wood. Can you explain the process?

- DerekW

Here’s an excerpt from the book. It is full of other useful information and I strongly recommend buying it. The Kindle edition is only $8.49, so it won’t break the bank.

Since you have limited test pieces available, proceed with caution. Like I said, I have gotten excellent results with figured maple where the process really brought out the grain, but I’ve also applied it to other woods with a less positive outcome. Nothing was ruined, I just wasn’t impressed with the results.

————————————-

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.

-- There are 10 types of people—those who understand binary, and those who don’t

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DerekW

32 posts in 451 days


#5 posted 08-25-2018 02:21 PM

Thanks, Rich! I’ll have to try it out. I have some curly maple in the scrap bin that I can test it out on and, if the results look good, try it on my limited supply of birdseye maple scraps. Do you know how the sodium carbonate would affect padauk?

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Rich

4986 posts in 1098 days


#6 posted 08-25-2018 04:30 PM


Thanks, Rich! I ll have to try it out. I have some curly maple in the scrap bin that I can test it out on and, if the results look good, try it on my limited supply of birdseye maple scraps. Do you know how the sodium carbonate would affect padauk?

- DerekW

No experience with padauk.

-- There are 10 types of people—those who understand binary, and those who don’t

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OSU55

2404 posts in 2498 days


#7 posted 08-25-2018 04:58 PM

Lot of ways to acheive grain enhancement. I have researched a lot of the old chemical methods such as sodium carbonate. I can achieve the same thing with dyes such as Transtint and WD Lockwood oil based. To me the advantage is regardless of the effect/color, I can use the same processes and finishing chemicals and dont have to do special preparations. Transtint can be mixed directly into shellac and wb or solvent lacquer, and the ob directly into poly.

Since you desire max chatoyance, dont use wb finish- it does not refract light the same as solvent finishes. Putting shellac under wb is a big improvement but still not as good. Mainly applies for gloss finishes. The lower the gloss the less the difference. You dont state how tough of a finish, gloss level, or film thickness is desired, or application method. That info will help develop a finish schedule. And yes that padauk is gonna end up brown regardless. Here is a birdseye platter I did a few years ago.

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Rich

4986 posts in 1098 days


#8 posted 08-25-2018 05:11 PM


Lot of ways to acheive grain enhancement. I have researched a lot of the old chemical methods such as sodium carbonate.

- OSU55

Have you just researched it or actually tried it? Big difference.

-- There are 10 types of people—those who understand binary, and those who don’t

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OSU55

2404 posts in 2498 days


#9 posted 08-25-2018 09:26 PM

I researched them and saw no reason to pursue the methods. I’m quite capable of viewing the pictures and comparing them to finishes I have done.

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Rich

4986 posts in 1098 days


#10 posted 08-25-2018 10:52 PM


I researched them and saw no reason to pursue the methods. I’m quite capable of viewing the pictures and comparing them to finishes I have done.

- OSU55

I guess I’m more curious than you are. For the few dollars a bag cost me I had the opportunity to see the results up close. I can assure you that no photo is going to capture its effect.

You can choose not to experiment, but to say that you can achieve the same thing with dyes, without ever trying the sodium carbonate, is disingenuous since you have no idea what the effect is.

-- There are 10 types of people—those who understand binary, and those who don’t

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Kazooman

1359 posts in 2461 days


#11 posted 08-25-2018 11:04 PM

Hate to bust up a good argument, but the OP said he got “excellent chatoyance” on the birdseye maple.

He is looking for a way to retain the color of the padauk. From my limited experience with padauk, I think he is in search of the Holy Grail. Padauk darkens with time, as TheFridge said.

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Andybb

2100 posts in 1112 days


#12 posted 08-25-2018 11:07 PM

In case nobody has mentioned it, wipe with DNA and seal any padauk that is adjacent to the maple as it will bleed when you rub finish on it.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

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Rich

4986 posts in 1098 days


#13 posted 08-25-2018 11:56 PM


Hate to bust up a good argument, but the OP said he got “excellent chatoyance” on the birdseye maple.

- Kazooman

He also said he want to keep it. I offered a suggestion based on my experience to enhance it even further.

-- There are 10 types of people—those who understand binary, and those who don’t

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Kazooman

1359 posts in 2461 days


#14 posted 08-26-2018 12:07 AM


Hate to bust up a good argument, but the OP said he got “excellent chatoyance” on the birdseye maple.

- Kazooman

He also said he want to keep it. I offered a suggestion to enhance it even further.

- Rich

Valid point. Any thoughts on sodium carbonate and the color of the padauk? I think I have a very old piece of padauk down in my stash of “wood I will probably never use”. If I can find it, I might have a go at seeing what the base wash has on the initial color. That is if it would have the nice red-orange color if I plane off the now very dark surface. Padauk just goes brown.

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Rich

4986 posts in 1098 days


#15 posted 08-26-2018 01:30 AM


Valid point. Any thoughts on sodium carbonate and the color of the padauk? I think I have a very old piece of padauk down in my stash of “wood I will probably never use”. If I can find it, I might have a go at seeing what the base wash has on the initial color. That is if it would have the nice red-orange color if I plane off the now very dark surface. Padauk just goes brown.

- Kazooman

I think of sodium carbonate as something that deepens figured grain. I’ve never worked with padauk, so I have nothing to base any comments on. Maybe give it a try. Sodium Carbonate isn’t a super wow treatment, it just happened to affect figured maple in a way I liked. That’s why I mentioned it here. I’d definitely never use it without doing test pieces first.

-- There are 10 types of people—those who understand binary, and those who don’t

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