How to finish algarrobo wood (prosopis nigra)

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Forum topic by algarrobo posted 09-20-2021 04:37 PM 320 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 28 days

09-20-2021 04:37 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing modern

Hi everyone, brand new here. I will be remodeling a kitchen in Argentina and the wood used in the project will be algarrobo. It is a very hard wood that is difficult to stain properly. A lot of people wax it and it may require re-waxing. Any advice on stains? Paints? I would like the end product to have an even finish without it being super shiny. The common results with algarrobo are on the rustic side. I am looking for a more contemporary or modern look. I included a link to a picture of what is available there to buy to give you al idea, but of course, it is a far away picture. The picture included is not what I am looking for, rather the result of a reddish stain applied to the cabinets. Thanks for any pertinent advice!

-- Ben

4 replies so far

View Redoak49's profile


5386 posts in 3228 days

#1 posted 09-20-2021 08:53 PM

I have no experience with your wood. I will offer what I do with unfamiliar woods. It is worthwhile to take some pieces and try the different finishing techniques.

View Lazyman's profile


7943 posts in 2627 days

#2 posted 09-20-2021 10:12 PM

That appears to be a species of what we call mesquite so it should finish pretty nicely. The ultimate finish you get will be dependent upon the quality of the wood you start with and how much time you spend getting a good smooth surface. If it has many knots or other defects for example, you will end up with a more rustic look. If you remove those and sand it smooth you should be able to get a very nice contemporary look.

Are you planning to keep its natural color or do you want to stain it. I would probably go with a polyurethane clear finish and let the color of the wood show through but if you want a darker color for example, you can use stain to get it to look the way you want.

Redoak49’s advice is a good one. Spend some time practicing your finishing routine on some scraps that represent the quality of the wood in your project. Do the entire finishing process (sand, stain and top coat). You may find if you want to stain it that you get a blotchy look in which case you may need a conditioner or sanding sealer to make the wood take the stain more evenly.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View CaptainKlutz's profile (online now)


4886 posts in 2734 days

#3 posted 09-21-2021 03:26 AM

Welcome to LumberJocks!

+1 That species is generically sold as Mesquite in USA.

Arizona has several species of black/brown Mesquite that are grown locally. Some native, most as landscaping trees milled by urban sawyers. Mexican Mesquite (Prosopis juliflora) is very common at local lumber wholesalers.

No sane person I know puts any color finish on mesquite. It has gorgeous array of colors, and darkens with age. Suggest simple finish is best.

The high hardness makes it easy to create a shiny finish with wax top coat. Couple of mesquite projects I have built where I wanted low sheen, used an oil finish. But even with a hard oil finish, if you highly buff the surface; it can pick up a high gloss level. I use white plastic scuff pads (0000 equivalent steel wool) to remove the oil after application and help leave a ‘rougher’ surface’ to emulate a satin finish. But will admit that Mesquite serving platter I built become semi-gloss after many uses and hand washes. Mesquite is tough wood. People use on outdoor furniture with no finish, or just clear deck oil applied every couple years.

If you want to use it in a bathroom vanity, or kitchen cabinets; then spray a couple coats of satin lacquer. This is what the local high end cabinet shops recommend to reduce water spotting. Mesquite does not need the water protection like many woods, but still need to spray a nice even top coat of lacquer to keep it looking nice over time as people rub up against it (and polish small areas).

Buena suerte!

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, Doom, despair, agony on me… - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View therealSteveN's profile


8828 posts in 1814 days

#4 posted 09-21-2021 08:08 PM

No familiarity at all with this wood, but in searching it starts to break down to several species using the name ALGARROBO BLANCO

Woodworkers resource which does address finishing, and says it does so easily.

If you search ALGARROBO BLANCO, you will get many Spanish language links, some could have a bit of finishing info. Or perhaps more locally to you it’s going under another species?

Whatever you find, there is no substitute for doing trial finishes on anything you’ve taken more than a moment working on. lest you build a masterpiece, and ruin it with a haphazard finish. Use a bit of scrap, and try your most favorite of finishes to see how it looks before you even start building. Sand and prep it just like you would a project piece, and apply your finishes to see what works best.

-- Think safe, be safe

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