Finishing to highlight figure


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There is a small sawmill here that specializes in "urban salvaged lumber" - walnut, western maple, and other assorted species - for slabs, tone wood, turning blanks, guitar blanks, finger boards, etc.  They sell seconds and downfall for $1 - $2 a pound.  Fun to go in occasionally and see what they have acumulated. 

Recenty I have picked up some real nice, highly figured walnut.  Small pieces like 12" x 18" that I have made started to make into gift boxes and thinking about some other items.

Question - what is the best way (or ways?)  to really highlight figured grain?  To really bring it out in a finished piece?

 

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Thanks - I was reading some of the General Finishes literature - they say to only sand to a maximum 220 grit?  You can oversand a surface so smooth that it won't accept a finish?  What about some of the online guys that say to sand to a 400 grit, wet the surface to raise and torn grain, sand again to 400 grit for the smoothest finish.

 

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1 hour ago, SCPDX said:

Thanks - I was reading some of the General Finishes literature - they say to only sand to a maximum 220 grit?  You can oversand a surface so smooth that it won't accept a finish?  What about some of the online guys that say to sand to a 400 grit, wet the surface to raise and torn grain, sand again to 400 grit for the smoothest finish.

 

Well first of all, anytime you're applying a film finish, sanding beyond 220 is just a waste of time because any additional smoothness you achieve will just be covered with finish.  You sand the finish itself to a higher grit when using films.  If you're applying a basic oil finish then there's a better argument for sanding to a higher grit since you will actually feel the wood and not the finish, but I still wouldn't waste my time going above 320.  Turnings are a different story.

Also, you don't have to raise the grain unless you're using a water based finish.  Oils, shellacs and lacquers won't raise the grain nearly as much as water, and any trace of raised grained will be smoothed off as you sand your finish coats.

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13 hours ago, K Cooper said:

Yeah, he pilfers the good stuff that the locals never get to see;)

 

13 hours ago, Eric. said:

Damn right! :D

The guy at my yard does the same thing.  I'd lose respect for him if he didn't.  Besides, he rat-holes stuff for me that he thinks I might like; he's usually right.

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I don't have three sheds...but I do have one, and it's plump.  Also have two racks in the shop and a fairly sizable pile accumulating in the basement.  The amount of lumber I take from the yard is absolutely microscopic on a quantity level, but I do siphon off the best and most interesting boards that I see when they come in.  Honestly it's the only reason I work at the yard.  I don't need the money, but I enjoy talking wood and helping the customers...and having the ability to skim the cream that comes through this place.  But one guy can't even put a dent in it.

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