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Hi there,

First time poster, I look forward to joining these discussions!

For the past year I have been slowly carving a set of handles for a camera handheld rig. I started with a 3x3x12" block of kiln dried maple that I bought on ebay. I'm finally near the finish line after a lot of work and lessons learned. I was excited about the random curly fungus (or whatever that is) and the intricate grain. After sanding it down with 400 grit, I decided to apply several coats of boiled linseed oil over time with a couple of sandings in between coats at the beginning. I'm on the second coat and I'm rather disappointed with the way that the grain is coming through. Its a little ugly, too chaotic almost smudged-looking.

Heres the question: is there any technique that I can use to bring out the textures of the wood in a more attractive way? Can I get the grain to really pop at this stage? I saw a video about dying but it looked like they did that prior to any oiling.
I appreciate any and all thoughts on this.

Thank you, Luke
 

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David
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Welcome to the forum, Luke! Are you wanting it to shine? The figure is fairly obvious and showing well in that piece so I'm thinking a higher sheen would likely help. And yes, at this point I don't think you'll get any stain to penetrate.

Davi
 

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You might wash as much of the linseed oil as you can off with lacquer thinner and try a light stain on it. It may bring out the grain. The black lines in it is because the wood is spalted. It's the beginning stages of rot.
 

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I feel for you after so much work. Finishing is among the many things I'm not great at, but I'll offer some observations. The fungus you refer to is called spalting. Spalted maple is sought after by many. I believe it happens most often in soft/red maple which are the same. Soft being relative as its plenty hard, just not as much as hard/sugar maple. I'm thinking yours is soft maple as the BLO looks as though it was absorbed quickly and the color is similar, could be wrong but that's my guess.
As for where to go from here, seems to me you've two choices:

1. Strip it of BLO and start over. This is hard as oil is in the wood , not just sitting on it. Probably need more than sandpaper and would use small spokeshaves and cabinet scrapers to do the hard work and then sandpaper. Tough option, but its a small piece and you'd have the fun of learning to use a few cheap handtools.

2. Find something to shine it up. Two things come to mind, first being shellac which goes over most anything and can give a real gloss finish. Read up on it. Next might be high quality waxes that can be applied in multiple coats and buffed out to look great, not as durable so you'll need to reapply yearly, but a viable option.

Hopefully someone smarter than me will chime in,

Good luck
 

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Sawing against the Wind
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TOO early to be getting upset about the finish....BLO takes MANY coats in spalted wood to build up the finish....grain, maple doesn't carry/have much IF any grain as we woodworkers think of as in oak.

It's basically the finish you're using you need to read up on it more...What I've used has a flatter sheen BUT I DID NOT put multiple layers/coats I stopped at 4 on sassafras for my desired sheen. A warning with BLO is IT IS A MUST to dry thoroughly between coats, I will state that AGAIN...A MUST !!!

Spalted maple is beautiful !!!! My personal opinion and experience is you've already sealed a bit too far to remove efficiently to make staining be pleasureable. I would do 4-5 more coats and get it sealed good. The sanding between coats after the first I don't recomend as you start defeating the purpose of building up the finish. Once you get to the point you want at last coat use something super fine to go over everything prior the last coat.

These WILL be BEAUTIFUL !!!! It just takes time to build up. You won't see the chatouyancy until many coats, the nature of spalted wood.

Enjoy and post more pics....we love wood and I also cameras!!!
 

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Ahh, the fun of maple. Sometimes, no matter what you do to it, its still a boring wood. Not a huge fan of it myself, but i have messed with it a far bit. I agree with the common assessment that a bit more shine will do a lot to pop the looks, and i really agree with Tim's assessment, you really need to put a lot more BLO on it before it starts to look as good as it can. Some woods will pop with a single coat of oil, walnut for example, but figured maple really needs a bit more love to it. Id keep going at building up the finish with the BLO until you get a decent sheen. At that point, you can take a soft cotton buff on either a grinder or an arbor in a drill press and buff it with some white rouge, really ups the level of sheen you get.

Honestly though, sticking with the BLO is about all you can do at this point. If youve only done a coat or two of BLO and it hasnt fully cured you might be able to get some oil-based stain to tweak the color, but thats a big might. Honestly though, if you dont want the BLO youre kinda boned at this point, being how it absorbs into the wood you cant really strip it off the same way as a fill. This all leads to the most important and painful lesson a woodworker can learn; when finishing, test on a scrap piece first before jumping to the project at hand!
 

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Sawing against the Wind
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I'd check with Heritage Natural Finishes. You may be able to change over to their blend of natural finishes and be more satisfied in the end . I ALWAYS recommend to check with the manufacture(s) for compalibility as there's many whom just do things and they worked....temporarily. I believe theirs will blend BUT just a opinion NOT a fact.

OP, I'm familiar with spalted wood and some finishes. I've used BLO, Waterlox and Heritage N. F. on pieces. I've found Heritage is my go to finish and Waterlox as my 2nd choice ONLY because I like the final outcome. They are BOTH great products and have good backgrounds. Many like the BLO but it is longer drying .

Enjoy your project, I admire the craftsmanship and time involved !!!
 

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Fun adventures with "

Hi Luke...Welcome to the forum!!!

I will expand on some points and perhaps have to counter others some have made (for give me.)

... I'm finally near the finish line after a lot of work and lessons learned....After sanding it down with 400 grit, I decided to apply several coats of boiled linseed oil over time with a couple of sandings in between coats at the beginning...
That's just the beginning on many projects. For something like a Camera Handle Stock I may not stop till 1000 grit or more depending on desired sheen?

... is there any technique that I can use to bring out the textures of the wood in a more attractive way?...
YES...Many...!!!

On this part of you question I would offer the following links to learn more:

northernspalting.com and spaltwood.com are both great resources to get started on with the subject if you have a tendency to like the science side of woodworking...

...I was excited about the random curly fungus (or whatever that is) and the intricate grain. I'm on the second coat and I'm rather disappointed with the way that the grain is coming through. Its a little ugly, too chaotic almost smudged-looking...
The zone lines that form in spalting fungi do not necessarily follow the grain of the wood species it is growing in, but it does offers some of the most interesting effects seen in wood of many species...

Your current displeasure I hope you find fleeting as you work past this perceived set back. I don't think you are actually close to trying all the possible natural and/or traditional finishing effects that you can try with such wood...

...Can I get the grain to really pop at this stage?...
Yes...I would try the blend that Tim has offered. I use it all the time and have for 30 plus years. Its my go to finish on most projects in one of its blended forms, or I blend my own using the same natural and food grade materials found in it...

...I saw a video about dying but it looked like they did that prior to any oiling...
It's not too late at all...to add some color!!!

Even with several coats of just BLO. If it is completely dry, and you really do want a "pop of color" there are many brands of indelible colored marker ("Sharpie" is what I use most often for this) that can enhance the compartmentalized effects of the zone lines. If you have some scrap pieces do some testing to see which color and/or pattern enhancement you wish to do, as you can not undue this method...!!!!.... without some pretty invasive alteration to the wood surface...

Hope this was of some help?

j
 
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