Adding contrast to chess board

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Forum topic by JoshNZ posted 08-26-2018 10:09 AM 645 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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133 posts in 1678 days

08-26-2018 10:09 AM

Topic tags/keywords: darken

Just wondering if there is such a finish that would make the dark squares darker without making the light squares too dark.

I’ve used NZ native Matai for the dark and Tawa for the light since it’s what was on hand. Doesn’t look too bad but could use a bit more contrast.

Thanks in advance,

8 replies so far

View OSU55's profile


2507 posts in 2598 days

#1 posted 08-26-2018 12:20 PM

Pictures would help and not familiar with NZ native wood, so some description would help.

View bondogaposis's profile


5605 posts in 2959 days

#2 posted 08-26-2018 01:54 PM

I don’t think it is possible to add contrast. Contrast comes from your wood selection, this isn’t Photoshop where you can add it later. Outside of staining the darker wood darker, which would only be possible before assembly, I don’t think there is much you can do.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View splintergroup's profile


3215 posts in 1830 days

#3 posted 08-26-2018 02:15 PM

Oils tend to darken already dark woods while having a lesser effect on light colored woods. Depending on how much the woods absorb, you may get lucky and have your light wood less porous. Follow with a sanding which will strip away the oiled layer on the light wood while leaving the darker area (test out on scraps first of course 8^)

View JoshNZ's profile


133 posts in 1678 days

#4 posted 08-26-2018 08:02 PM

I have attached a pic below, I haven’t tidied it up or glued yet. It’s a bit of recycled T&G flooring so a little rough in some places. I haven’t worked with either woods, never finished them so not sure what will happen. I’ve noticed darker woods tend to darken more than lighter woods with a finish too but I wondered if there was anything in particular that accentuates this. Sounds like I’ll have to take what I get.

View AandCstyle's profile


3265 posts in 2865 days

#5 posted 08-26-2018 09:18 PM

Josh, I know nothing about NZ woods either, but some woods will get lighter or darker with exposure to sunlight. You could try putting some scraps in the sun to see how they react. Since it isn’t glued yet, you could finish the light wood with super blonde shellac or a water borne varnish and finish the dark wood with an oil product. Personally, I think the contrast you have is perfectly acceptable. FWIW

-- Art

View bigJohninvegas's profile


725 posts in 2070 days

#6 posted 08-26-2018 10:33 PM

I tend to use a lot of danish oil. That will darken and yellow most light wood. but I have used a wipe on shellac by itself. And seem to get a lighter finish. I keep a bottle of zinsser shellac that I get at my local big box store. Mix it 50/50 shellac and denatured alcohol. I have seen, but not used myself, water based finishes that keep lighter wood from turning yellow. More natural color when finished.

-- John

View JoshNZ's profile


133 posts in 1678 days

#7 posted 08-26-2018 10:56 PM

It is partially glued actually, in strips then sawn again and reversed so seperate finishes is out of the question.

I think the contrast is acceptable too it was just a case of ‘take it if it’s available’. Matai is supposed to darken in sunlight. I wonder if it’s over a matter of a day or two, or months.

I’ll give some finishes a go on scrap and see what happens. I’ve never used shellac at all maybe time to start experimenting.

View shipwright's profile


8453 posts in 3406 days

#8 posted 08-27-2018 11:49 PM

Shellac will “pop” a lot of Woods. Many dark woods will look lighter before a finish is applied and darken when the finish hits them.
Here’s an example with shellac.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

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