Finishing Advice for Birdseye/Padauk project

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Forum topic by cpd1 posted 09-24-2020 04:58 PM 249 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 128 days

09-24-2020 04:58 PM

I am building a surround for a vintage stereo receiver. It will be inlaid dovetail construction (Incra Cornerpost Double Dovetail) and will also have inlaid laminate strips on the top and sides. It will be constructed of birdseye maple with contrasting wood for the trim in the dovetails. The laminate strips will be constructed of 1/16” strips of birdseye with alternating strips of varying widths made from the contrasting wood.

I picked up some padauk that I wanted to use for the contrasting wood pieces before doing too much research on the species as I wanted something unique. As I am researching it, however, I am seeing a lot of threads about mixing padauk with light woods as it tends to bleed when finishing, especially with the oils I would typically use to make the birdseye pop. I don’t think there’s any way to finish the padauk separately before assembly. Obviously you can’t do that on the laminates as they need to be trimmed to the appropriate thickness and sanded flush once inlaid. You can’t really pre-finish the dovetail trim pieces either as they need to get glued in to the joint on one side and then sanded flush before cutting the dovetails on the other side.

I’d really like to use the padauk if I can, but I don’t want to risk bleeding and ruining the maple in the laminate or the dovetails. So any ideas on finishing the piece in a manner that controls bleeding and still makes the birdseye pop? Or alternatively, any other ideas for trim woods that are workable for dovetails and are not your standard dark browns (walnut etc.)?


3 replies so far

View PBWilson1970's profile


123 posts in 276 days

#1 posted 09-24-2020 05:10 PM

Luthiers routinely use dark, renious woods that bleed (Padauk, Cocobolo, other Rosewoods) next to lighter binding and purfling which is often Maple. I have seen videos of luthiers sealing off the light maple purfling with a small paintbrush and some shellac or they tape off the binding and purfling. With some patience and a steady hand, you should be able to accomplish it. Good luck!

-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

View splintergroup's profile


4049 posts in 2105 days

#2 posted 09-25-2020 04:11 PM

The bleed over is a problem but as PBW points out, there are ways around it. Padauk will turn brown over time so there is always options for other species if you are just after the color. Now also consider that maple has a very “closed” grain, the wood pores are very small. This will mitigate the places where bleed over can collect, but it still may happen to some extent. Always a solution is to make some test pieces to see what happens and what you can try to prevent it.
sealing the maple (shellac is always a goto sealer) before assembly (and in your case, maybe even before cutting). You definitely can pre-finish the maple as well if you have a secret recipe for making the maple “pop”, but that limits final sanding, etc.

Do a Google deep dive on finishing tricks and you may find a trick that is ideal for your construction.

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10 posts in 128 days

#3 posted 09-25-2020 07:39 PM

Thanks for the replies. The piece will live in a built in cabinet with very little exposure to direct sunlight so that should counter the deterioration in color hopefully.

My eldest son asked to do a project together so I now have some time to decide how I want to finish this piece. I’ll do some more research and play around with some scrap to test how bad the bleed is.

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