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Hello I'm preparing some live edge slabs that I cut about a month ago which I will use for shelving, to make a big table and a couple of desks. The only thing is that they are giving me a very hard time on choosing a product. At this point it's worth mentioning that some are oak and some are maple, but the maple ones are the hardest.
On the maple, which is the one that concerns me mostly I've already tried ebony shellac which had a very yellow tint that didn't look nice to me, general finishes gel stain antique walnut, either on its own or mixed with mineral spirits, which both were too dark, I've also tried waterlox which to me didn't seem to do anything in terms of color, and also a light stain which was water based and I liked this more than the rest.
So what I actually need is some suggestions from people that have done this in the past or have knowledge on what to use on the maple. I generally like a dark color on the wood, but not that dark that would cover the grain or the beauty of the natural wood itself. I don't know if there is a way to enhance the grain but also apply stain over it. So any advise on finishes or stains is more than welcome. Thank you. I'm also attaching a photo I have of one of the maple slabs so that you get an idea of what I have.


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You could try one of the lighter stains like Golden Oak. You could also try a tinted polyurethane over the bare wood.
 

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That is a gorgeous piece of wood you have there. If you could keep the bark on it would be very pretty as a table. (Pity they nicked the one side of the crotch, tho...)

I've built two sofa table using Maple/Walnut and applied 6+ coats of Waterlox - sanding with 320 on one or two coats during the wipe-on - and ended up with a super smooth satin finish that really emphasizes the grain. You'll get density with added coats.

I'm in the school that avoid stains unless you need to match up color density between different pieces of the same wood - did so on a walnut piece and it helped a lot. I use Amber Shellac on Oak for a Craftsman look, a warm stain on Pine if it fits the piece, and but prefer no stain usually and find the finish that accents the grain best. Experiment on matching scrap until you find something....
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That is a gorgeous piece of wood you have there. If you could keep the bark on it would be very pretty as a table. (Pity they nicked the one side of the crotch, tho...)

I've built two sofa table using Maple/Walnut and applied 6+ coats of Waterlox - sanding with 320 on one or two coats during the wipe-on - and ended up with a super smooth satin finish that really emphasizes the grain. You'll get density with added coats.

I'm in the school that avoid stains unless you need to match up color density between different pieces of the same wood - did so on a walnut piece and it helped a lot. I use Amber Shellac on Oak for a Craftsman look, a warm stain on Pine if it fits the piece, and but prefer no stain usually and find the finish that accents the grain best. Experiment on matching scrap until you find something....
Thank you!! That's a good advice as well. I'm gonna have to fill this crotch indeed. I found the log on the side of the road and this cut was made already probably from those who cut the tree down.
I like the idea of just finishing the slab instead of staining, just with something that can darken it enough. Do you have any suggestions? Not dark as brown lol but a warm color

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I tried that this morning, it's definitely better, any ideas on something darker ?

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More coats will darken it. Make sure the coats dry well in between. You could also try mixing in a darker stain, just make sure the two are compatible with each other.
 

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I don’t thank any stain is going to make it prettier - darkening it will give it an unnatural appearance. It almost seems that you are looking for what we get with Walnut - totally different wood. The advice to use repeated coats of a finish will add depth and patina - again, play with a scrap piece of Maple and see what you get first.

Wipe-on is an ideal technique as it dries more quickly and requires less or little sanding. I used Waterlox on my Maple sofa table and love the grain enhancement - there are a number of good oil based finishes to choose from. I have read extensively about finishing and am amazed at the variety of approaches. My results have definitely been a good result of this research.

Do some homework and learn about them before you choose as they will add up in expense once you start to try them (ask me how I know)....
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I don’t thank any stain is going to make it prettier - darkening it will give it an unnatural appearance. It almost seems that you are looking for what we get with Walnut - totally different wood. The advice to use repeated coats of a finish will add depth and patina - again, play with a scrap piece of Maple and see what you get first.

Wipe-on is an ideal technique as it dries more quickly and requires less or little sanding. I used Waterlox on my Maple sofa table and love the grain enhancement - there are a number of good oil based finishes to choose from. I have read extensively about finishing and am amazed at the variety of approaches. My results have definitely been a good result of this research.

Do some homework and learn about them before you choose as they will add up in expense once you start to try them (ask me how I know)....
I agree and after putting a lot of thought into it I decided that this would be the best choice. Even though I have to say that yesterday I applied MinWax Polyshade Pecan and over that this morning I applied Waterlox and it really gave it a very warm look, a lot like the one I had in my head.
What would you suggest to use for finishing? Either with or without stain, doesn't matter.
Waterlox, odie's oil, monocoat or clear shellac ? I'm sure you have a lot more experience on finishing than I do. So I appreciate your help a lot!

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'm including 2 photos of the pecan combined with waterlox and waterlox itself, I have to say that I prefer the look of waterlox more and this is with just 2 coats. I'm loving this product, I just still feel like I need a warmer look on it.


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I'm including 2 photos of the 2 coats of waterlox (not dried yet) and one of waterlox applied over the Pecan polyshades. I have to say that I start to like the look of waterlox a lot!! I'm loving this product, I just still feel like I need a warmer tone to it. I don't know if there's any other type of oil or material that would give it a warm tint.


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I'm including 2 photos of the 2 coats of waterlox (not dried yet) and one of waterlox applied over the Pecan polyshades. I have to say that I start to like the look of waterlox a lot!! I'm loving this product, I just still feel like I need a warmer tone to it. I don't know if there's any other type of oil or material that would give it a warm tint.
 

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I agree and after putting a lot of thought into it I decided that this would be the best choice. Even though I have to say that yesterday I applied MinWax Polyshade Pecan and over that this morning I applied Waterlox and it really gave it a very warm look, a lot like the one I had in my head.
What would you suggest to use for finishing? Either with or without stain, doesn't matter.
Waterlox, odie's oil, monocoat or clear shellac ? I'm sure you have a lot more experience on finishing than I do. So I appreciate your help a lot!

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Waterlox is the finish - no need for anything else but a wax job if you like. I like Amber Shellac on Oak for that Craftsman look. Each wood responds to certain finishes it seems and oil-based is the easiest to get good results from. Even tho water based poly is popular as a quicker finish to use with many shops producing volume work, I don’t care for it.

I just started using just Odie’s on my cutting boards and love the stuff. Pricey but good quality.

With 320 sanding between the 3-4 coats and a couple of final wipe-on coats at the end, I left the sofa tables with Waterlox Finish alone after 7-8 coats - cures in a week or so and makes for a durable finish. Could take a week or longer - time consuming but so worth it.

If sanding and finish application is done right, you should have a super smooth, glasslike surface where you can’t really feel the wood anymore. Prior to any finish, go through the grades when sanding - 80, 120, 220, 320 - and you’ll see the grain get deeper and deeper as each coat of finish is applied. It’s the dessert of woodworking.
 
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