When planning the finish for this mahogany bookcase, Peter Gedrys knew that he had a diamond in the rough. The boards already had beautiful figure and color that had been allowed to age to a rich, natural tone. So his strategy was to keep things simple while enhancing and protecting the wood. These techniques can be adapted to almost any mahogany piece. The first step was to use dye to make sure all the parts had matching color. Next, he sealed the surface with shellac, then applied grain filler to fill the pores and ensure a smooth surface. A clear topcoat of shellac all over the piece was followed by a layer of varnish for extra protection on just the top surface. With wax as the finishing touch, the mahogany was revealed in all its luster.

From Fine Woodworking #197