A few words about the finish: I think there’s as much to learn about finishing as there is for joinery. The color is via water based dye. The figure in tiger maple is just blotching, but blotching we like. This is a case where you try to enhance the blotching, but in a controlled way. A moderately dark dye was applied. I chose to use one of the dark colors in the color mix. The whole piece was then sanded, which removes the hard grain and makes it light again, but the dye has gone more deeply into the soft grain (the stripes) and those stay darker. This photo shows the chest after the dye was applied and then sanded back off. You can see the enhanced figure. Next, the real color was applied. For both the grain popping dark coat and for the color coat, I wet the wood with water before applying the dye. The water soaked into the grain and kept the dye from absorbing as much. This gave me more control and kept things from going too dark and from bleeding. I practiced on some test boards to get a feeling for what was needed. This is the artsy part.
So, the dye is applied and the whole thing feels like a porcupine with grain sticking up everywhere. Heaven help you if you try to fix that. Just ignore it. If you touch it, you’ll sand through your color. The next step was to pad on two coats of oil, in this case Arm-R-Seal. I let it absorb as much as it would take, but then wiped it back. I was not trying to build a film. Oils react with the wood and darken it, so this is another step to enhance the figure. Also, the oil locks in the water based dye. This is where I was afraid I’d messed up. The oil became tacky rapidly and a fair bit of lint pulled off the rags. One of the biggest lessons I learned from Charles is that you build a finish. Adjust it in steps. It looks ugly and uglier before it looks better. I walked away and let it dry. But, with some finish on, I could give it a careful, light scuff with 600 grit. One wipe. That’s it. Maybe two wipes after the second coat.
That’s the base. From there, I put on two coats of water borne gloss (General Finishes High Performance) and two coats of satin, scuffing with 600 grit between each. The coats built. The fuzz came off and was buried. The net result glassy smooth. Phew. You have to learn to ignore the ugly stage, but it’s hard. You want to fix it, but if you touch it, you’ll ruin it. At least, that’s how it is for me.