Acrylic finish on maple

Using water-based acrylic on maple. May 4, 2001

by Rick Hill

I want to use a water based acrylic on a maple desk but fear that it may come out too light and unnatural looking. The manufacturer of the acrylic offers an amber overprint that is supposed to mimic the aging that you get when using lacquer, but I don't have any experience with this and don't want it to come out an unnatural yellow or blotchy, especially on maple that doesn't take to stains well. My experience is with piano refinishing and I have not worked with maple yet.

You are right to be concerned about the look. You could put a light yellow tint onto the maple, but it will look dyed, not amber from the lacquer you are used to seeing. Some waterbase topcoats can be tinted to add an amber look but this can muddy the clarity of the finish. Your best bet is to get a sample or buy a small container of the waterbase and try it on scrap wood. Otherwise you will never know what the final look will be until it is too late.

Rick Hill is an independent representative and consultant for industrial wood finishes. He has been involved in the woodworking industry for 12 years, and has been known to actually hold, shoot, and clean a spray gun.