Finishes for Curly Maple

Finishers offer a few custom finish approaches for curly or quilted maple. January 14, 2009

I'm looking for suggestions on the best finish for curly/quilted maple?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor M:
Here is a large mitered corner box that I made from padauk with a curly maple top. The finish was a bit unusual for me, but on the maple (and the maple only) I rubbed on 4 coats of Behlen Pure Tung oil (gotta make sure it's 100% tung oil and not the "tung oil finish" ripoffs). I did this before I ever assembled the box (to keep the oil from spotting the padauk).

The oil truly pops the grain and looks a lot more reflective than the underside of the lid where there was no tung oil (only CV). I let the tung oil cure out for a month (this was obviously not a rush job) and then I sprayed the whole box with satin conversion varnish (Krystal). The Krystal behaved very well over the cured tung oil. Normally I'd not put an oil finish under CV, but I took a chance and it looks great.

From contributor J:
Just did a mantel clock with curly maple to match an existing piece - waterbase Transtint for the color. I let it dry over the weekend, then applied two light coats of pure linseed oil to pop the grain, left it dry three days (as needed). Then sealed with Zinsser sanding sealer, light sanding, then topcoated with waterbase lacquer sealer, then lacquer. Seemed like it took forever, but it turned out great.

From contributor B:
You'll get tons of recipes from luthier/guitar making sites (curly maple is what makes us drool over Gibson Les Pauls, and quilted maple is found on other exotic guitars). It all depends on how much "pop" you're going for. You can't lose with a coat of boiled linseed oil to accentuate the figure, then the lacquer of your choice, but you can be more dramatic. I like to use some dye stain, then sand it back so you expose fresh wood in the hard areas where the stain didn't penetrate much, leaving only the areas where the stain did penetrate. Then come back maybe with a second color (like amber first, then yellow). Seal. Evaluate your color and adjust with a toner/shader coat, then clear coat over that.