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Thread: Finishing Ambrosia Maple

  1. #1

    Finishing Ambrosia Maple

    Hi everyone,

    I could really use some help here: I've finished making a cabinet in ambrosia maple and am struggling with test finishes.

    I am shooting for a relatively light colored Danish oil finish. Knowing that (ambrosia) maple blotches easily, I've been testing pre-stain wood conditioner. The difficulty I am experiencing is that just the pre-stain alone produces blotches. And I am beginning to think that the only way to deal with this is to use a darker stain that will bring everything to the color of the darker blotches. (If that would even work.)

    So I guess my first question is: is there some way to avoid blotches and keep a light (slightly darker than natural) finish on ambrosia maple?

    If not, can someone suggest how I might go about finishing ambrosia maple keeping it as light as possible?

    Is cut shellac likely to produce better results that an oil-based conditioner?

    Thanks in advance for your help (I'm pulling my hair out here).


    It now occurs to me to ask specifically whether shellac will darken wood less that oil-based conditioner.
    Last edited by Mark Freed; 08-22-2021 at 4:33 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    On blotch prone woods I almost always reach for my spray gun and spray dye to get the color I want, then apply a film finish topcoat. As you are finding out oil finishes can blotch on woods prone to it so I stay away from them. If you decide to spray dye spray it just wet enough to wet the wood and not so heavy that it pools or it will migrate to the thirsty areas and result in the blotching you are trying to avoid. Adjust the dye strength to get the hue you want, not by spraying really wet coats.

    Some folks have reported good results with Charles Neil's blotch controller. I haven't used it, just reporting what I've read.

    Another way to go about it is to seal the wood with dewaxed shellac and then apply a glaze or gel stain to get the color you want, then seal and finish it.

    Keep testing on scrap until you get it figured out.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    SE Michigan
    Iíve followed Johnís advice on blotch prone wood. I donít have spray equipment, so just use spray can shellac to seal (wiping on SealCoat can blotch as well-even thinned). A light sanding, then on to the final finish. Johnís advice to spray vs. wipe or brush has worked well for me.

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