Finishing Ambrosia Maple

Ambrosia Maple Box with General Finishes Seal-A-Cell Finish

Ambrosia Maple Box with General Finishes Seal-A-Cell Finish

Wormy maple is often referred to as Ambrosia Maple due to the fact that the wormholes are caused by the Ambrosia beetle. The result is a distinctive gray to brown streaking against the creamy white maple wood. So how do you finish this maple? It depends on what you want for an outcome.

Oil base clear coat:  Clear coating with an oil based top coat such as Arm-R-Seal or Seal-a-cell from General Finishes will promote the variation in the grain between the creamy white wood and the worm streaks, and will also amber over time, providing a little color but not too much.
Water base clear coat: clear coating with a water based top coat such as General Finishes High Performance Poly Acrylic will seal the wood with the clearest possible finish, and the least amount of color.
Oil based Stains: Either gel oil base or penetrating pigmented wipe on oil based stains can  be used to deepen the color before top coating. Gel Stains are topical, distribute more colorant and will provide a more uniform color. Wipe on stains penetrate the wood, promoting more variation in the grain.
 Waterbased Dye Stains: designed for the professional user, these ready-to- use dye stains serve 3 functions. They can be applied directly to the wood as a layering color beneath pigmented wiping stains , they can be used to tint top coats to give the project a color shade, and they can also stand alone as a direct application. In the case of this wormy maple, if you were to choose the use of a dye stain, we would recommend tinting the water based top coat with a 2 to 3% volume of amber dye stain used in a spray application.

Two Toned Kitchen

Two toned kitchen

Two toned kitchen

Create more interest in the look of your kitchen by combining painted and stained surfaces. This paint used here is General Finishes Swiss Mocha Professional Waterbase and the stain is General Finishes Gel Stain in a 50/50 blend of Brown Mahogany and Candlelite.

Gel Stain-Penetrating Stain Comparison

Comparison of Penetrating Stain and Gel Stain

Comparison of Penetrating Stain and Gel Stain

The walnut door on the left was stained using a wipe on oil based penetrating pigmented stain. the one on the left was stained using a wipe on Gel stain from General Finishes. The Gel stain was selected to provide more color management – it is more topical, sitting on the surface of the wood, adding more color and depth while retaining the beautiful wood grain.

Ben’s custom subwoofer table

Hi Ben – Because of your wood selection we would suggest a hybrid finish, using both Seal-A-Cell Clear (oil base) and High Performance Topcoat (water base). In order to bring out the natural color of the cherry and walnut your project needs a penetrating oil like Seal-A-Cell. This will seal the grain and provide depth and color. Let it dry overnight, sand lightly and you are ready to brush on the waterbased top coat. Two or 3 quick coats of water based Top coat will give you a durable film with just the right build. A water based finish alone is not going to provide the same depth of color to woods such as cherry, walnut or mahogany.  WoodSmith Magazine did an article in 2005 that follows this process on woods such as cherry, walnut, curly maple. We have reprints available. However, this is not completely the “green” low VOC solution you were asking for. However, it is the wood and the objective of your finish that may dictate your choice. Even though our water base finishes are our top sellers, I just finished my own walnut kitchen using a wipe on oil base gel because of my color management objectives. The rest of the house was completed in a water base finish using a spray application. If you want to continue with an entirely waterbased finish, you can try using dye stains and shellac, but that process is a little more challenging to a novice finisher.



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