Birch table finish

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I have built a small birch dining table that I tried a dark gel stain and it bolched bad. I have not done the top and was thinking I need to coat it with a one pound shellac to help with the bolching.

I also thought about going back over the legs and aprons with a dye to cover the bolches.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.
 

Ed D

Ed
Senior User
Larry...I have had good luck on pine and cherry using a wash coat of Zinsser Sealcoat, which is dewaxed shellac cut 50% (it is 2# out of the can). I sand very lightly to get any nibs after the wash coat, and normally use satin poly as a final. If you have scrap, you might test whatever schedule you settle on.

Ed
 

richlife

New User
Rich
I have no problems (nor any experience) with the previous suggestions. I think before you do anything more, you should use leftover scrap in a large enough size to see the effects (even if you have to buy more :dontknow:) to experiment with what you want to try. Personally, I think dewaxed shellac is your best option, but I also think that a 1# cut is overkill. You want to essentially fill the top, not finish it, with shellac. I'd use a 1/2 (one-half) # cut, sand lightly or wipe lightly with alcohol and a purple scotch pad for even coverage and, if needed, repeat. (Simply clean the scotch pad with alcohol to clean.) Simple and fast. Too heavy a shellac coat and you are just spreading color over a top coat and you may end up with shellac finishing problems .

Since this is a table top, you really want to test it before applying it to the final work. In my experience, birch is one the most difficult woods to finish -- especially without blotching. In appearance, it's remarkably similar to cherry, but birch has it's own unique features. I'm sure this will be a wonderful table when you find the right finish techniques that work for you. Rich
 

richlife

New User
Rich
I couldn't stand to watch all that video, that guy is destroying perfectly good wood. The answer is simple "stain just say no" They don;t lie when they call it stain - that's exactly what it is. Wood comes in so many different colors, why stain? Just use a different species of wood.
I'm a big advocate of naturally finished woods, so I generally agree with you, Jeff. But you go a little too far. Stain has its place. For me oak is the best example -- natural, golden, provincial are a few of the options and provide great variety while maintaining the beauty of this wood. If the character of the wood isn't changed, I'm not offended if it's stained. One of the first pieces I did in black walnut, I used a black walnut stain to help make the color more even. It did that and, to me,completely ruined the wood. It sold quickly, but I like to think it was the carving that sold -- the wood lost all the life I wanted from black walnut and I'd have to be hard pressed to ever do it again. As usual, my advice would be to try any stain on a sizable piece before you commit you completed work to it and compare that to a natural finish. Stain hides first, any enhancement may be pure luck.

Also, there are many ways to stain (and dye) -- a blanket statement on stain just can't cover them all. Some are basically "natural", some are "paint". (I've personally vowed to never paint any wood again unless it's a fence post.) It's also important to recognize that many natural finishes inherently stain -- shellac comes in different shades because of this.

Along this line (and relevant to the topic), some woods like birch, cherry, even maple are likely to blotch whether finished naturally or stained. You need to find a way to "fill" and block the blotching, not try to "stain" and hide it.

And let's go back to what Jeff said: "Wood comes in so many different colors, why stain? Just use a different species of wood."
 

Travis Porter

Travis
Corporate Member
Personally, I now stay away from stains on blotch prone woods. In the past, I would precoat with wood conditioner, but it would be hit or miss. If I am going to color blotchy wood, I now use dyes and HIGHLY recommend them. They are easy to use and very forgiving.
 
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