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  • Finishing Maple - ???

    I need some advice for finishing the desk I am building. I have not built any kind of furniture before.

    It is made using maple veneer plywood for the cabinet sides, solid maple for the trim pieces, solid maple bases, maple veneer top with solid maple trim. The doors will be solid maple as well. This is the look I am going for:



    1) What should I use for filler? I have some nicks and tear outs.
    2) What should I use for finish? and how should it be applied?

    Thanks a lot
    RC

  • #2
    Re: Finishing Maple - ???

    Originally posted by RapidCut View Post
    I need some advice for finishing the desk I am building. I have not built any kind of furniture before.

    It is made using maple veneer plywood for the cabinet sides, solid maple for the trim pieces, solid maple bases, maple veneer top with solid maple trim. The doors will be solid maple as well. This is the look I am going for:



    1) What should I use for filler? I have some nicks and tear outs.
    2) What should I use for finish? and how should it be applied?

    Thanks a lot
    RC
    I just finished a bathroom vanity out of maple plywood and solid maple frame & doors. I think that natural maple look is just beautiful.

    Tearouts are hard to deal with. I plane very carefully to avoid them. Usually tearout happens when you try to plane in the wrong direction, you have to experiment a bit on the first couple of passes to learn what direction planes the cleanest. And use new or freshly sharpened blades (very important). If I can't end up without some tear out I usually try to sand it out. If that doesn't work or I have to sand too much, then I make another piece or at least put the tear-out side to the inside. There is no filler I've found that does a great job on maple tear-out, it all looks pretty bad to me.

    For little nicks, I use Elmers Wood Filler in Natural. You can mix in a little bit (very tiny amount) of the same stuff in walnut to darken the filler up a little if needed. Very, very little. Sometimes you can dip a matchstick in a can of Minwax stain (called "Wood Finish" but it's not really a final finish, just an oil stain) and mix that into the filler also to get a little shade variation. Nothing is going to look too good on a bigger nick or chip.

    For the final finish, I use a product called E-Var conversion varnish. It's a catalyzed synthetic, like a catalyzed lacquer only harder and more chemical and water resistant. Made by Akzo-Nobel, I think. I get it from Cascade Coatings in San Jose, CA. It comes in various gloss levels - I usually get "20-sheen" which is a nice satin finish for furniture. This material is spray only, and you have to use a good gun to get a good finish. But it's gorgeous, especially on maple!

    I am anti-polyurethane. I don't like the look, it's hard to spray, and repairs are very difficult. Or maybe I just don't know what I'm doing...

    If you don't have spray gear, I can't offer any advice since I haven't used brush-applied or wiping finishes in about 20 years. Someone else willl probably be along and have some recommendations.

    WHATEVER you do, research the material and ensure that it doesn't "yellow". Yellowing clearcoats really mess up that beautiful blonde maple look...also true on ash and birch, for that matter.

    Good luck.

    Andy

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Finishing Maple - ???

      I will give you my opinion, on finishing most furniture type projects,

      choose your finish, I personally like old types of finish what are more oil based,
      I personally like a finish that has some "yellowing" it mellows the wood in my opinion, instead of looking like you wrapped it in plastic.

      I prefer choosing a wood that you like in its natural color, instead of staining the wood,
      if staining is in your future consider Dies instead of stains, the color the wood and do not blotch near as much as a stain, when there are various grains, wood blotch as the stain does not penetrate evenly such as on flat and end grain, the end grain will take up much more and it will be darker, birch, cheery, pine, and some others, blotch easily,

      be exceeding careful with any glue and other that may block the penetration of stains and finishes, (oils and penetrating finishes), they will mess up and not stain and leave streaks and blotches in/under the finish.

      IMO, on touching up with fillers put on the sealer coat of finish first, then fill and patch and let it dry completely, use a filler that will match the wood or stain in the filling/patching process. then after preparing the filler or patch, complete the finish, if you patch with some types of filler first (if there stained they may stain the sourding areas, if there made with glue they may not finish or may block the stain or finish from penetrating correctly and be come a larger mess than not doing any thing,

      (I like the color putty for filling and coving imperfections, http://www.colorputty.com/
      get a series of colors and then match or mix to match the wood/stain color on oak I may use 4 or 5 different colors depending on where the patch need to go, there is a lot of variations in wood, and the wrong color patch will not make it look better,
      there are a few other companies that make putty products, Dap is one, my local lumber yard carries the products, and of course there mail order-able from a number of suppliers),


      I will agree with the polyurethanes as they are difficult to apply and to repair. but very resistant to many things and tough.

      I would take some of the scraps and experiment first on any process (filling and finishing, stains/dyes) before touching your project, and see if what you get is what you want or desire, I would rather buy and not use a can of varnish or stain, than mess up a project that you have a few hundred tied up in, and then have to live with it for years,

      with modern veneers of ply wood, you do not have enough thickness to sand it off and try again,
      on the plywood you will only get one chance to get it right,


      Good luck
      Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
      attributed to Samuel Johnson
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Finishing Maple - ???

        BHD, I agree with most of your comments.... but not the yellowing clear finish. It's an opinion thing, but, IMO they will definitely give a different look than the poster is shooting for based on his photo. The natural maple look isn't yellow... applying a yellowing finish isn't a lot different than staining the maple yellow.

        Plus, those finishes look clear when freshly applied, but get yellower with time - and it's hard to predict how much. For example, look at a vintage blonde guitar finished in nitrocellulose lacquer (say, an old Gibson). The yellowing definitely gives a guitar that vintage vibe... gorgeous on a guitar, but I don't think I would want that on furniture. You don't really get that plastic look with either the catalyzed lacquers or catalyzed varnishes, as long as you don't spray them on too thick (ruins the look and durability of any clear any finish!!). Again, it's all subjective and based on individual taste.

        That color putty is non-hardening - it stiffens up but never dries completely. It's a putty, not a filler - you shouldn't put a finish over it. I use that exact product for filling set nail holes in base, crown and chair moldings that I've finished before installation, and don't intend to apply any more clear finish over. Your finish might bridge over a finish nail hole but it's not really the intended use of that stuff. A material that dries rock hard is what you want if you're going to finish over it.
        Last edited by Andy_M; 12-04-2009, 02:53 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Finishing Maple - ???

          Originally posted by Andy_M View Post

          That color putty is non-hardening - it stiffens up but never dries completely. It's a putty, not a filler - you shouldn't put a finish over it. I use that exact product for filling set nail holes in base, crown and chair moldings that I've finished before installation, and don't intend to apply any more clear finish over. Your finish might bridge over a finish nail hole but it's not really the intended use of that stuff. A material that dries rock hard is what you want if you're going to finish over it.
          I got a few old jars in the shop that would tend to disagree with you on the harding part,
          it does take some time, but it does harden up, I do understand what your saying,
          for small holes or shallow imperfections you can nearly make them disappear with the putty,

          but I have seen items where they used glue and saw dust as a filler and then went to finish the product, (or plastic wood) and there is these blobs, were the finish or stain did not penetrate, and it looks poor,
          what My recommendation, was to get the product the color you want and sealed and then fill the small imperfections, (as the putty can stain, and the glue will seal the wood and show up, and so on),
          I hope one is not trying to putty or fill large gaps or gouges, only minor imperfections,

          a yellowing finish may not be the best for maple, I have done a lot of birch with older oil based varnishes, in our area when I started in building cabinets birch was the "hot" wood (back in the 70's) similar to what Oak is now,
          and it just gave it a mellow look IMO,

          a lot of finishing wood is knowing what one wants and what the finish will look like in time,
          (my mother had some land one time and it was where she was grew up, and the place was being reclaimed for farming, the buildings were gone, and there were some Mulberry trees on the place mostly dead, but I took the chain saw down and cut a few hunks of trunk out and the one item I made for her was small coffee grinder,
          here I had this bright yellow wood and I used some kind of clear varnish on it, and was this bright yellow box, she set it on a table in front of the window, and I came in some time later and her is dark chocolate color wood, now, it went from a bright yellow to a dark chocolate color, in about a years time. to some extent cherry wood is similar, a light pink to a deep rose color,
          some some change is not all the varnish, but the wood it self reacting to the sun light and UV rays, so that important to understand,

          maple is fairly stable in it color tho,
          Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
          attributed to Samuel Johnson
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Finishing Maple - ???

            Originally posted by BHD View Post
            I got a few old jars in the shop that would tend to disagree with you on the harding part,
            it does take some time, but it does harden up, I do understand what your saying,
            for small holes or shallow imperfections you can nearly make them disappear with the putty,

            but I have seen items where they used glue and saw dust as a filler and then went to finish the product, (or plastic wood) and there is these blobs, were the finish or stain did not penetrate, and it looks poor,
            what My recommendation, was to get the product the color you want and sealed and then fill the small imperfections, (as the putty can stain, and the glue will seal the wood and show up, and so on),
            I hope one is not trying to putty or fill large gaps or gouges, only minor imperfections,

            a yellowing finish may not be the best for maple, I have done a lot of birch with older oil based varnishes, in our area when I started in building cabinets birch was the "hot" wood (back in the 70's) similar to what Oak is now,
            and it just gave it a mellow look IMO,

            a lot of finishing wood is knowing what one wants and what the finish will look like in time,
            (my mother had some land one time and it was where she was grew up, and the place was being reclaimed for farming, the buildings were gone, and there were some Mulberry trees on the place mostly dead, but I took the chain saw down and cut a few hunks of trunk out and the one item I made for her was small coffee grinder,
            here I had this bright yellow wood and I used some kind of clear varnish on it, and was this bright yellow box, she set it on a table in front of the window, and I came in some time later and her is dark chocolate color wood, now, it went from a bright yellow to a dark chocolate color, in about a years time. to some extent cherry wood is similar, a light pink to a deep rose color,
            some some change is not all the varnish, but the wood it self reacting to the sun light and UV rays, so that important to understand,

            maple is fairly stable in it color tho,
            I hear you on the wood changing color. You can't use fillers on cherry and some others (paduak is the most severe color changing wood I've used, but gets beautiful) because the wood will change and the filler won't... stands out like a sore thumb.

            And yes, let's hope it's just tiny little flaws... the only real cure for a botched board is the fireplace.

            Comment

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