Recommendations for finishing spalted maple

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Forum topic by Aaron312 posted 04-13-2021 10:48 PM 306 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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49 posts in 487 days

04-13-2021 10:48 PM

I am building a jewelry box for my daughter out of spalted maple. I have never worked with this before. The wood is sound, no rotten spots. But it is still very soft. It is pretty heavily spalted and I would like to keep it as clear and natural as possible, so probably no oil finish. I was planning on using General Finishes water based “high performance topcoat.” I tried some of it on some bare scrap pieces, and it is going to take a lot of coats to build up a finish as it really absorbs the varnish. Should I use shellac as a base coat? something else? nothing but the GF topcoat?

I see a lot of guitar builders seem to use “Kpoxy” or a similar thin epoxy to strengthen the wood and either let that be the finish or add a varnish or something over the top. If it really does harden the wood, then that would probably be a good thing just to help prevent little dings and scratches. I have never used this either, and I’m just worried that epoxy may be a little tricky to work with and I certainly don’t want to mess up the box.

Other suggestions? (I don’t have any spray equipment)


4 replies so far

View Aj2's profile


3844 posts in 2884 days

#1 posted 04-14-2021 12:06 AM

Have you ever tried the rattle can of spray lacquer. I only will suggest shellac if your mixing fresh flakes. And since your asking that particular question obviously your not familiar with mixing your own.
Good Luck

-- Aj

View Rich's profile


6851 posts in 1676 days

#2 posted 04-14-2021 04:26 AM

General Finishes High Performance Topcoat is a quality product and is ideal for many situations. However, it won’t bring out the grain in your wood.

For an easy-to-apply finish that will enhance the grain, give some thought to General Finishes Arm-R-Seal.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View PBWilson1970's profile


206 posts in 480 days

#3 posted 04-14-2021 01:01 PM

A jewelry box won’t see much wear and tear day to day so you might not need the epoxy strengthening coat.

I do like how a thin coat of shellac soaks in and can firm up softer grain. Wood turners do this often and it helps them get cleaner results. Zinnser SealCoat that is wax free might be a good base. I’ve found that it is easy to use and is a quality project. You definitely could go with another color of dewaxed shellac flakes to change the tone of your maple if you like.

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

View wncguy's profile


500 posts in 3399 days

#4 posted 04-14-2021 02:06 PM

I use the Zinnser SealCoat as my base (perhaps 3 coats, sometimes more – depending how it absorbs) & then the Arm-R-Seal 2-3 coats for all my boxes. This includes many I have done with spalted maple.

-- Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a Dad

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