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A Winning Finish

age Charles Neil coat color finishes finishing the finishing store woodworkers

Recently, I was involved in a “Woodworking Throw-Down” on the Lumberjocks.com forums. In just a few days, I needed to create a table-top box to store remote controls and ‘stuff’ in.

So I pondered on it a bit, then settled on a “Bombe” style, with a contemporary flair, and maybe a little Asian influence. Not what most would expect from me, I do a lot of period work, but I also do a lot of contemporary, so this should be fun. I used 6/4 Tiger Maple and a piece of Curly Claro Walnut.

Now, the rest of the story. I had to get a “killer” finish on it. One of the things I have learned, while bold contrast can be very nice, sometimes something as simple as a “Blending Tone” of color that actually subdues the “stark” contrast can add a lot of elegance. I have Tiger Maple and Dark Curly Walnut, white and dark brown, a little more contrast that I wanted. Now, to tone things down a bit, I got some AquaTone “Golden Oak” stain (#100-02-04) as I know Golden Oak brings a softer and beautiful color to walnut, especially steamed walnut. The golden color helps to kill the purple tones and adds a nice amber tone. Walnut lightens as it ages, so the Golden Oak brings some of the “aged” colors in as well. It’s one of my favorite colors on walnut.

Now, what to do with the white Tiger Maple box. I didn‘t want to dye the curl. I want subtle. I opted to do a single coat of amber shellac which gave the curl a little boost and “pop”. Next was a light coat of Acrylacq, scuffed lightly with 600 grit (I didn’t want to risk cutting through the finish), then I used the Golden Oak as a glaze over the finish just to add some matching tone and subdue the stark white of the maple. I sealed the glaze with another coat of finish. When it dried, I wanted a little more so I glazed it again and I got exactly what I wanted. I stained the walnut in raw wood as would be normal, I then applied two more coats of finish. Scuffed with a 320 grit light sand in between and I had gotten the finish I was after. I sprayed the finish with the Apollo Atomizer and was able to lay out a “silk slick” finish.

In the contemporary world a lot of contrasting woods are used, I hope you can see and understand how a little toning and working with the finish can help you soothe the contrast to make a beautiful piece.

I have always been, and remain, convinced that “If you can’t finish, you can’t build.” Finishing is the enhancement and preservation of the project you built, and good products and equipment are the means to a successful finish. While I have tried everything out there, the products and equipment I use to get the results I want are not found in box stores, or in the bargain bin for $1.99.

The box I made won the challenge and we auctioned it for charity. The proceeds of the auction went to The Wounded Warrior’s Project. If you’d like to check out how the auction went, just search item #130598199371 At www.ebay.com. The finish tells the whole story.



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