What type of finish do you recommend for finishing zebra wood? Conversion varnish? Straight catalyzed lacquer or something else? Any prepping tips? I have a Binks Rapitor for my clear finishes.
From contributor M:
You can finish zebrawood with anything you would put on your standard stuff like oak or maple. I have finished zebrawood in cabinetry only with conversion varnish - it was also zebra veneer. I used MLC's Krystal, and the results were super.
Note that I also have done a good number of lathe turnings with zebrawood. You can get a very neat look by finishing it with a very amber-colored finish like regular old polyurethane, where the lighter streaks get the golden color but the black is still black.
I prefer the clear, white look, however, and conversion varnish is the ticket. Zebrawood is probably the most open-grained wood I have ever finished (next to maybe wenge) and I had to pile on three coats of CV to get anything resembling a closed-grain smooth finish. I was sanding every one of them back very heavily (back almost to the bare wood) with a 1/4 sheet sander and 220 grit. Naturally it was best to cure the CV for a few hours before commencing in the grinding. The final (third) coat was carefully thinned to make sure it laid properly and was not sprayed too heavy.
I also recommend you spray as dull a finish as your customer will allow. You probably won't get a total grain fill very easily and a glossy finish will end up looking cratery and dimpled. Otherwise, zebrawood smells like zebra crap when sanding it, but the end result is a stunning work.