I’ve finished a prototype using poplar. I used shellac on the base and oil on the seat. I darkened the wood using a brew of vinegar and steel wool (poor man’s fuming). I’ve attached a few photos I snapped during construction.
I used poplar because it was inexpensive and I was able to get 8/4 stock for the legs and seat. FWIW, I oriented my lamination for the seat vertically (opposed to horizontally).
For the finish, I just put a 0000 pad of steel wool in a jar of vinegar and let it dissolve. You need to give it some air and time to do its work. I’ve had this sitting on a shelf for several weeks, stirring occasionally until the wool was fully dissolved and then put on a lid once it was ready.
I brushed on two coats for the finish and let it dry overnight (no wipe off on the poplar). Although with other woods that have more tannin, I’ve wiped it off after about 15 minutes to arrest the darkening process. Off cuts are good for testing out what works best. It came out a rather dull brownish color and the shellac and oil brought the grain back out. Also, I didn’t sand before finishing.
That’s one of the funnest part of these projects – starting with a very solid design and trying out new techniques and ideas. Again, thanks for the feedback, guys. Very much appreciated. Cheers.