Popping Redwood Grain Without Darkening
Issue: Issue 338
Posted Date: 11/5/2013
Last time out, Rob asked in his editorial for your burning woodworking questions to be posed to the Woodworker's Journal community.
Bill C. had a question: he wanted to know how to pop the grain on redwood without darkening the wood too much. "I have tried oils, clear varnishes, dyes and stains, but it all turns too dark. So far, wax seems to work the best, but what to put over the wax as a protective finish? Shellac? Blond or orange?"
We put Bill's question in front of the Woodworker's Journal Facebook community, asking if anyone had any advice for Bill, or wanted to share their experience in this area.
Here's what we heard from a few of you. - Editor
"Three coats of high-gloss tung oil." - Jake S.
Stephen S. wrote: "Coat with glair, then wax over the top." [Editor's note: "glair" is a coating made of egg white.
"Danish or tung oil." - Adrian R.
"Don't apply any finish over wax. It will not stick. I, too, like tung oil for the most natural finish." - Paul O.
We also heard, in this discussion, from finishing expert Michael Dresdner (author of Wood Finishing Fixes and host of The Way to Woodwork: Step-by-Step to a Perfect Finish DVD). Here's what he had to say:
"Popping the grain can be done in two ways. You can add color meant to preferentially darken any end grain areas to create more contrast with the flat grain, or you can impregnate the wood with a low molecular weight material that will act like a lens to give the wood the appearance of more depth. Linseed oil, with its amber color and very low molecular weight (under 750), does both. As Bill wants clearer options that add less color, he should consider blond shellac (1000), water clear lacquers (2000 and up), and some two-part coatings, such as polyester, that start with one component that has a low molecular weight. The latter will penetrate even though it will later cure to a high molecular weight." - Michael Dresdner