The Clearest Finish
I want to keep my spalted maple looking as natural and non-yellow as possible. What finish should I use?
Anna Thornton, Brookline, MA
Maple has a tendency to yellow over time no matter what finish is used. However, you have a choice of finishes based on how much handling the piece is likely to get.
If you want to give the wood some protection but still stay close to an in-the-wood look, I suggest you apply two or three coats of a non-gloss water-based finish, sanding with P220-grit sandpaper after the first and second coats.
If you look at Chris Minick’s test of these finishes in FWW #187, you’ll see that several of them, including Minwax’s Polycrylic and Hydrocote’s Resisthane Plus, produced a clear, non-yellow finish.
|Brush on a waterborne finish. Two or three coats of a clear, non-glossy, water-based polyurethane will give the spalted maple a protective coat but keep the wood’s natural look.|
If a non-film oil finish is more important to you, try either Minwax’s or Watco’s Wipe-On Poly, both of which are among the clearest of this type of product. However, either one will yellow the wood more than the water-based finish, and you won’t be giving the wood much protection.
Photos: Charlie Reina