Pop the Curl in Curly Maple
Woodworkers choose this species for its stunning figure. Here are four goof-proof steps to bring out the best in this premier wood.
Synopsis: Curly maple is difficult because of its density and alternating grain. In this article, master finisher Jeff Jewitt explains how to finish this wood, using an armoire to illustrate his “goof-proof” finishing techniques. He includes recipes for color options. It’s important to start with water-soluble dye stains, not pigment-based stains. He explains how to darken the curl and raise the grain, how to seal the wood with a liberal coat of oil, and topcoat with the film finish of your choice. A side article on color effects help you experiment for a natural look, an antique maple look, or a two-tone effect.
The question from one concerned woodworker was direct. “I built an entertainment center out of curly maple. I want to finish it so that it looks a hundred years old—you know, that caramel color with real dark curl that jumps out and follows you around the…