Accentuating Tap Holes in Maple Veneer?

A few years ago, I acquired a bunch of maple veneer from a tree that had been tapped for syrup. It has holes where the tap penetrated the tree, which I think is really unique. I haven’t put the veneer to use, but wondered what options I might consider for showing off this feature. I thought about ebony stain on the substrate, leaving a little lip at the hole. (I guess mineral spirits or something would remove the contact adhesive from that spot.) Is there a good filler that would go on tinted if the project ‘wants’ a smooth face? I usually prefer unstained light wood so I’m reluctant to try to stain only within the tap hole. – David B. Stone 

Tim Inman: Read books about marquetry and boulle work. I think you’ll find that “whole new world” you’re looking for regarding coloring woods in special ways. I think your project would be a perfect place to begin exploring natural and chemical dyes and mordants. The dyes can be used to pre-tint many fillers, and post-tint some others. Experiment, and enjoy!

Chris Marshall: I like your idea of showing off those tap holes! It doesn’t get more “real” than that. I would probably fill them with a tinted epoxy after applying the veneer to the substrate rather than try to color the substrate first. I’ve had good success mixing a little aniline dye powder right into two-part epoxy to create the color I want, then skimming it on with a putty knife. Apply it sparingly and sand or scrape it really carefully to remove the excess but not cut through the veneer.

Posted in: