Campaign Chair Finish Questions
Also, Christopher recommended ‘black wax’ in the video. Will that work on my maple and where can you buy black wax?
FWIW, I like the look of maple with a clear finish – why not let the beauty of the wood shine through (though it would give you a more modern look)? But if you want to make it darker, the simplest way – especially if you have a spray setup – is to use an aniline dye (but test it first on offcuts, of course); you can read about those here and here. If you don’t have a spray system, test some gel stains (I’ve had good luck with the ones from General Finishes) on offcuts until you get the look you’re going for – and gel stain has the benefit of reducing blotching. You can read what Bob Flexner has to say about gel stains (and wood conditioners) here.
The wax is “black bison wax” by Liberon and you can get it at Woodcraft, Rockler, Van Dyke’s, Amazon, etc. but I’m afraid it doesn’t work well on woods with closed grain such as maple (it works best on open pored woods such as oak and mahogany).
— Megan Fitzpatrick
Thanks for your suggestions. The reason I was hoping to have a darker wood color is because I plan to use the chair with my RV as we travel and it will be used virtually outside all of the time and I think that the darker color won’t show the dirt and wear marks that the lighter maple may show.
What say you?
Hmm…I think if I were using it outside all the time, I would use a water-resistant finish so I could wipe off the dirt…and because that will protect the wood better. So I guess no matter what stain, dye or finish you use, I’d topcoat with poly or a few coats of lacquer. (I have some dark-colored wood chairs on my patio, and they still show dirt, FWIW.)
But, if you like the look of the maple sans stain, maybe a varnish? So far I’m happy with the Formy’s Tung Oil Finish that I used on my wooden kitchen counters (yes, I could have made my own wiping varnish). It’s doing a good job of beading water and keeping other things (tomato sauce) from getting into the wood. It darkened my beech counters a little, and made them warmer looking (you can’t use it over another finish, according to the manufacturer, though…so no staining if you go that route).
And no matter what you use (poly, varnish or lacquer), keep an eye on the finish – if you see cracks or deep scratches, you’ll want to recoat for enduring protection. Once water gets below the finish, it’s the beginning of the end. (In fact, I might find some rubber sleeves at the home center that will fit the bottom of the legs…the ground is the most likely offender for water getting into the legs!)