Retaining Color in Wood
Most woods will eventually change color with the passing of time. Darker woods tend to lighten, and lighter woods usually darken. Some woods, such as rainbow poplar and osage orange will change from bright, vivid colors to much less intense shades of brown. Here's a list of ways to improve color in your turnings and help the beauty of your projects stand the test of time.
Fast Turnaround Time -
Some woods, such as maple, beech, and birch are prone to oxidation and staining if left sealed in paraffin wax while green for several months. Turning these woods as soon as possible will help to ensure lighter, brighter colors in your finished project. This becomes especially important with ambrosia maple, where a bright white wood provides better contrast against the darker ambrosia lines.
Use Hard Finishes -
While many turners prefer to use oil finishes for their ease of application, non-surface building oils such as mineral oil and linseed oil only provide temporary protection for wood. These oils work best when followed by an application of carnauba wax, which provides a hard, durable surface (as opposed to beeswax or furniture wax, which is much softer). If tung oil or Danish oils are used, it is best that several applications are done to provide a suitable finish. Using shellac, lacquer, polyurethane, or any other hard finish will provide the best color retention for your turnings. These finishes help protect the wood against oxidation, and is absolutely the best choice for woods such as rainbow poplar and osage orange, which eventually tend to lose their naturally amazing colors.
UV Protection -
While there are many finishes and stains out there which are available to minimize the effects of ultraviolet light, a simple and effective solution is a light application of sunscreen! Use only a small amount, applied with a paper towel, before the finishing process begins. This is especially important to remember if your turnings will be used outdoors or near large windows indoors where they will receive a heavy dose of daily sunlight.