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 In Finishing, Shop Blog

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This curly maple tall-case clock was made and finished by a friend of mine

This curly maple tall-case clock was made and finished by a friend of mine.

To maximize the beauty of curly maple (also bird’s-eye maple), you want the curls to “pop” – that is, be significantly darker than the rest of the wood. To do this you need to get more color into the curls.

To some extent this happens naturally with any stain when you wipe off the excess. Though it’s a lot more work, you can significantly increase the darkness, or pop, by applying a number of coats of thinned water-soluble dye stain and sand or scrape in between coats after each is dry.

A good choice of dye color is Honey Amber Maple from W.D. Lockwood (sold as “Moser” dyes at Woodworkers Supply). Thin the dye with up to five parts water, and apply up to five or more coats, sanding or scraping between each until you have removed all or most of the color between the curls. This way, each additional application of the dye will darken the curls and then be removed from between the curls.

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