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Expert's Corner — blotchy

TIP: Ruining Your Woodwork with a Finish

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TIP: Ruining Your Woodwork with a Finish

It’s common to hear woodworkers lament that they don’t like finishing because they are afraid of ruining their woodworking project. So the following is an important point to keep in mind: The only thing you can do in finishing that can’t be fixed fairly easily is to blotch the wood with a stain or decide after you have applied a stain that you don’t want it. All other problems can be fixed, with the worst case being that you have to strip off the finish and begin again. Nothing is ruined. So, depending on the wood you use, it’s really...

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Making Curly Maple Pop

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Making Curly Maple Pop

To maximize the beauty of curly maple (also bird’s eye maple), you want the curls to “pop.” That is, be significantly darker than the rest of the wood. To do this you need to get more color into the curls. To some extent this happens naturally with any stain when you wipe off the excess. But you can significantly increase the darkness, or pop, by applying a number of coats of thinned water-soluble dye stain and sanding or scraping in between coats after each is dry. A good choice of dye color is Honey Amber Maple from W.D. Lockwood (sold...

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Wetting to Predict Blotching

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Wetting to Predict Blotching

You can usually get a pretty good idea whether or not the wood you are using will blotch when a stain or finish is applied by wetting the wood. You can use any liquid, but water will raise the grain causing you to have to sand more. Mineral spirits (paint thinner) works well except if you intend to apply a water-based finish. Some residue oiliness may remain and cause the finish to fish eye—that is, bunch up into ridges rather than level out. Denatured alcohol would be better for this situation because it will totally evaporate. But it evaporates quickly,...

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Avoiding Blotching in Cherry

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Avoiding Blotching in Cherry

Cherry is a beautiful wood that is easy to work. But it is a problematic wood to finish because it has a tendency to blotch, even with just a finish applied—no stain. Everyone working with cherry wants to know the “secret” for avoiding blotching in cherry, as if there is one that they just don’t know. The real secret about cherry blotching seems to be that there isn’t any way to avoid the blotching. If the cherry boards or veneer you are using include blotchy parts, you are going to get blotching. The only way to avoid blotching is to...

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