Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

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Steve Sawyer
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Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Steve Sawyer »

Yeah - thanks, Barry. I wish I still had some of the figured maple I was using to do some experimentation with dyes a few years ago. However I'm hoping to start a project in the next year that will involved dyed curly maple. I'm going to watch for the effect you describe. Perhaps I can visually document the effect and post that back here, though that might be tough to capture on "film".
==Steve==

Andrew Mowry
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Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Andrew Mowry »

...I removed this post because I changed my opinion... see below.
Last edited by Andrew Mowry on Wed Sep 20, 2017 4:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Andrew Mowry
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Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Andrew Mowry »

I actually disagree with the above. I just took a look at a hand-dyed sunburst to verify this: If you turn it in the light, the dark bands actually do shift position, which I would say is a result of the dye enhancing the chatoyance. I know it doesn't sound possible, but try it! I believe when you're looking at a dark band of end grain, you're looking INTO the fibers, seeing the dark dye. When you turn the wood, you no longer see into those fibers, but see into the adjacent ones, thus the dark area shifts. If you're viewing the fibers from the sides, they appear lighter.

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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Peter Wilcox »

Andrew, I think it's probably a continuum -- [no dye/maximumum chatoyance/minimum "pop"] to [heavy dye/minimum chatoyance/maximum "pop"]. To evaluate this, one could get a piece of wood with good chatoyance and treat a number of areas with more and more dye/sandback, or scrubbing with solvent as you suggest, and compare the results. I have a scrap I might try this on if I get around to it.

So to make a maple finish "pop" and still exhibit adequate chatoyance, I guess you might have to do a number of tests on that piece of wood to see where the most satisfying result lies, and that would likely differ for different people.
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Barry Daniels
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Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Barry Daniels »

I agree with Peter. It is not all or nothing. But I still say that soaking dye into the wood does not help the chatoyance. However, if done moderately, it will not destroy the chatoyance either.

The factor that really makes the chatoyance of maple "pop" is a clear finish with good wetting properties like shellac or lacquer. Many water based finishes seems to lack this property.
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Andrew Mowry
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Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Andrew Mowry »

We're in complete agreement there!

David King
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Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by David King »

In the clear finishes it often seems to come down to the index of refraction of that finish. If the wood gets too wetted, say when using a slow drying oil finish it often turns dull again. Let a piece of nice maple soak overnight in water until it's saturated and you will see what I mean. There's a happy wetting medium for each piece of wood and that's hard to control.

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Steve Sawyer
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Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Steve Sawyer »

Barry Daniels wrote:The factor that really makes the chatoyance of maple "pop" is a clear finish with good wetting properties like shellac or lacquer. Many water based finishes seems to lack this property.
Somewhere on this forum (might have been that mega-thread re water-based lacquers, or may have been a different thread entirely - or it might have been something that Todd Stock mentioned on one of his videos) someone was saying that the wetting properties of epoxy resin (for those that use it for grain filling) similarly has excellent optical properties, presumably in part due to its wetting behavior that may also enhance chatoyance. I just started a new build, and plan on using epoxy resin to fill the highly chatoyant veneer (sapele, not maple) I'm putting on the body. I have a test-piece that I'll be using to practice all of my techniques before doing the body, so I'll make it a point to post my experience back in this thread (unless the moderators would rather see it in a new thread).
==Steve==

Bob Howell
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Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Bob Howell »

I have read several articles in FWW about this over the years. One I tried was black dye and then sand it off the surface. Next yellow dye and sand off. Then dye red for similar effect or color. I confess to forgetting details so you must run test to get your desires. I do remember black was first.

Alan Block
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Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Alan Block »

The old tymey way is to use a nitric acid solution. This will darken the figure more than the background. I use it on gunstocks. The technique calls for wiping on a dilute nitric acid on the wood, It may turn green depending on the sugar content. Then use a salamander (hot flat iron) and hold it over the wood but do not contact the wood. This will darken the stripes. Then use a linseed oil to make it pop.

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