Highlighting Figure in Wood Grain

Here's a quick tip on using ferrous sulfate and dye to accentuate highly figured grain. July 10, 2007

Does anyone know how to get the flame to pop in a red birch (flame) wood? I am making an end table and don't know how to achieve this.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor T:
Tung oil or shellac.

From contributor P:
Amber shellac polished on.

From contributor C:
I'm not familiar with flame birch, but other highly figured woods are or can be treated with a very dilute solution of ferrous sulfate which pops the figure in birdseye, fiddleback, flame, curly, and other figured maples, etc. Too strong of a solution will turn the wood grey, so be careful about strength. What color range are you trying to achieve? It's possible to mix water dyes with the FS solution to achieve both color and figure enhancement at the same time if you want, and also dye by itself will accentuate the figure to varying degrees. Also, more than one coat of dye can be applied. After the first coat has dried, you can sand the surface with fine paper 320-no-fill and re-dye surface again. What happens is you have removed the dye from the non-figured areas, but it has soaked in deeper in the figured areas and the second coat will stand out to a much greater degree. This can be done as many times as you wish depending on how intense you want the flame to stand out.