I did a finish on a curly maple coffee table for a client. It was a simple finish, a medium brown MLC Woodsong II stain. I let it soak in for a minute and then wiped down, then rubbed the whole top down with lacquer thinner, which made the non-curl areas much lighter than the curled areas, and topcoated with a dull sheen MagnaMax. I was pleased, but my client said she wants the grain to "pop" more on the next tabletop, and she wants a reddish hint to it.
Does anyone have a schedule to make this happen? I will be using ML Campbell products. I've heard form a few finishers that I should apply a dye as my first color (they recommended a yellow dye) and then the brown stain and then clearcoat (I will be using a low sheen MLC Magnamax or Krystal). Since she wants a reddish hint in it, I was thinking of replacing the yellow with red or orange. I am looking for some depth to the grain pattern. Can anyone help?
From contributor D:
Semi-gloss would have had better results than dull.
The tung or clear stain base will penetrate into the wood, giving you more depth and adding to the chatoyant effect. Akzo Nobel calls this clear stain step an oil sealer and it is used for these purposes of enhancing the depth.
One, sand the heck out of the raw wood, to at least 400 grade. Two, seal heavily with a vinyl sealer and sand the seal coat very smooth. Three, use a gloss topcoat. Anything other than clear gloss with greatly detract from the grain's effect, and kill its "pop." Finally, if you must stain, do so either as the initial poster here describes (applying the stain to raw wood and wiping off excess stain immediately and vigorously, so only a hint of tint remains) or tone your topcoat and apply it very sparingly in order to control the depth of color - and be sure to coat again with clear topcoat once your desired color is achieved.
For a bar-top, or coffee table such as the original questioner asks about, wet-sanding, compounding, and buffing completes the process, and produces the "clear lens" that magnifies and intensifies the natural "pop" of this beautiful wood. But most crucial steps are sanding the raw wood down to baby's-butt smoothness, and the clear gloss finish. Without the gloss topcoat, your result will look clouded or muddy, and that's the opposite of what you want with curly maple.