Just Finishing

Grain Enhancement, Part I

How to bring out the best in closed-pore woods by Michael Dresdner

When it comes to Finishing, the nicest thing you can do for wood is emphasize the beauty that nature gave it. A finish docs that in a few ways: It can accentuate the grain pattern, create the appearance of greater depth, and add luster. When a finish enhances the grain dramatically, we say it makes the grain t4|x>p."

The grain-enhancement techniques you choose depend on the type of wood you're finishing. What works well for woods with fine or closed pore structure can produce poor results with open-pore woods. In this installment I II show you a few ways to highlight the grain of closcd-porc woods such as figured maple, birch and sycamore. In my next column 1 11 deal with large-pore and ring-porous woods like oak, ash, mahogany and lauan.

How Grain Enhancement Works

There arc many ways to accentuate wood grain, but all the techniques I'm going to show you involve some sort of stain. The wonderful thing about wood is that it does not absorb stain uniformly. Some areas of the wood suck up more of it than others. Staining therefore increases the contrast between areas of greater and lesser absorption—for example, the contrast between carlywood and latewood, whose different sized pores form the growth rings that define the grain pattern. In woods like curly and quilted maple, figure is crcatcd where the end grain veers up toward the surface, and i'W'jUjH "

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