Finishing Techniques for Figured Wood
Wednesday , 17 December 2014 , 09 : 45 PM
Turning Tutorials - Finishing Techniques for Figured Wood

Finishing Techniques for Figured Wood

Figured woods are a beautiful thing to behold. Curl, quilt, burl, and all manner of other types of unusual growth patterns can be quite magnificent. When finished properly, these woods can be made even better. Once you have your piece turned and sanded, go through the steps below to really make the figure stand out in your piece.

Supplies You Will Need -

Water-based wood dye, such as an an aniline dye found in woodworking retail shops.
Do not use penetrating wood stains from the hardware store, as they do not work as well.
Choose a color that will enhance (or at least not detract from) the natural color of the wood.

Lint-free cloth

600 grit sandpaper

  1. Begin by applying the dye to the surface of the wood with a lint-free cloth. Once the dye has dried satisfactorily, wipe the remaining residue from the wood surface.
  2. Before the wood dye has been allowed to fully dry, use some 600 grit sandpaper to lightly sand the surface of the wood. The idea here is that the water contained within the dye will have lightly raised the fibers at the wood's surface. The fibers within the figured areas of the wood will raise unevenly, and a very light sanding will cause the figure to stand out in a more pronounced manner.
  3. Once finished sanding, be sure to wipe away all surface dust to prepare your piece for finishing.
  4. Finish with an oil-based finish, alcohol-based finish, or wax. The harder, surface building finishes tend to enhance the appearance further

This technique may require some practice to achieve the best results. Making sure to not sand the piece too heavily after dyeing will ensure that the dye that is applied remains even across the wood's surface.

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Comments (2)
Comments by Jo Miller June 01, 2020

I used a water based dye – pretty dark color (red) and as I was putting on finish, the red color came off. I didnt sand before finishing. Someone at our club said I should have diluted the dye in alcohol to prevent that. BTW – I used a dye that said it could be used either with water of alcohol. Any comments about the problem of a dye rubbing off?

Comments by bill strever March 24, 2015

I always enjoy your articles, good tips that have helped me. However, it would add to your column if you named some products: “4.Finish with an oil-based finish, alcohol-based finish, or wax. The harder, surface building finishes tend to enhance the appearance further”. I know you aren’t in the business of selling things like finishes, but the brands that you have used and found more effective would be helpful in some cases.
Again, thanks for the articles – Bill