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by Ron Joseph

June, 2003

Finishing Maple Wood Furniture

Q. I have a unfinished Maple dinning room and chairs set. I'm planning on staining them a medium color, but I am not sure what to use for polyurethane. I want something that is easy to use (1 part), and it won't yellow. I see in the hardware stores the standard polyurethane products (like Minwax), but I also see this stuff that is water based polyurethane? I'm worried about the water based stuff's quality and turning yellow. What should I use as a nice clear coat for the set ?

A. You state that you want to stain the maple set a medium color, and in same sentence you ask about polyurethanes. To do this job correctly, you should stain the piece the desired color, and seal the wood, sand it smooth, and then top coat it. This system will give you the best results, and a good long lasting finish.

If you are staining maple it tends stain unevenly or blotchy, or to develop dark spots where the stain takes darker in some areas more than in others. This is an inherent trait of maple, and some other fine woods. There are a few ways to combat this, we will try to make this as easy as we can.

My recommendation would be to first smooth sand the wood with a fine grit sand paper such as 320 grit, this will tighten up the surface as to help control the penetration of the stain color. The selection of stain will also have an effect on the development of color. I would recommend a geld type stain, such as “woodkote� brand or equivalent in the desired color, this will help to achieve a more even application of color. Allow the stain to dry thoroughly ( usually over night), then I recommend applying a good sealer coat, thinned down ( a 100% cut with the appropriate solvent/reducer ) of the polyurethane, again maybe the “woodkote� brand ( it has less tendency to yellowing) so that it will penetrate deeper into the hard wood surface, and create a better base for the next coat of polyurethane.

After the first coat, or sealer coat of polyurethane has dried (typically over night), sand it smooth with the 320 grit sand paper, and remove all of the sanding dust, and wipe the surface clean prior to applying the next coat of polyurethane at full strength. The polyurethane will yellow slightly, however, with the color of the stain the slight degree of yellowing will go un-noticed.

Please be aware that coatings and solvents are chemicals and therefore you should always pay attention to proper handling procedures and be prepared to wear protective clothing, such as respirators, gloves, coveralls, etc. For further information on the health and safety requirements for the coatings and solvents you wish to use we strongly advised you to contact your local coating supplier. If possible, go the extra step and look for this information on the website of the product vendor.

 


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