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By Chris152
I'm now working with scraps of a variety of wood and want to emphasise the grain contrast in them. Appearance is all that really matters - it's just for looking at, not for using so resistance/ protection against wear aren't an issue. I prefer oil/ natural finishes to varnishes.
Maybe there's one finish that'll work for all (Danish oil? - I've not tried it yet), or maybe each works best with a different finish? These are the woods:

oak with medullary rays
walnut (heart and sap)

Hope this isn't an impossible/ rabbit skinning question, tho I fear it might be.
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By custard
I can't speak for Lime as I've never used it much, but for all the others any kind of oil based finish will make the grain pop.

Incidentally Laburnum's an interesting one as it'll go much darker after a few months in a sunny room. These are two pieces of Laburnum that were taken from the same board (they're actually a book matched pair, you can see the same matching dark mineral streak in both), one was stored in the dark and one was put in a south facing window. There are very few timbers that darken so strongly in UV light.
By Chris152
Thanks - I have boiled linseed oil here so will stick with that.

Funnily enough, I was disappointed on cutting the laburnum (from a log, so all faces were fresh cut) at how it wasn't as dark as I'd imagined - hopefully that's because the outside had darkened but not the inside, and it'll change with time.

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By custard
Chris152 wrote:it wasn't as dark as I'd imagined - hopefully that's because the outside had darkened but not the inside, and it'll change with time.

Laburnum holds a special place in traditional British woodworking, a country furniture maker using local timbers had three options for a really dark timber. Bog Oak, but that's only available in East Anglia and the West of Ireland and until very recently was generally only available in small fragments a few inches long. Iron stained Oak, but that's a finishing process rather than a quality inherent to the timber. Or Laburnum.

Consequently you see quite a few country pieces that paired Laburnum with Holly to lend some visual impact to inlays etc. The Arts & Crafts movement then used that same traditional pairing, for example in this piece, ... irror.html
By Chris152
Now I want some holly. :) It'd be great to work with that combination in light of what you've written custard. I just went into the garden to recover a trunk from the wood pile (only about 12cm diameter) that I cut down last winter, cut a log and it's at 27 percent mc, so it'll be a while. I'm working with thin strips so hopefully that'll work, it'd be nice to use something I've grown. According to the National Trust, it's the whitest wood we have, which is another question that's been knocking about in my mind for a while.
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By custard
Holly's another interesting timber!

Yes, it can be very white, but it's also extremely susceptible to fungal attack until it's dry, which turns it a nasty shade of green/blue. Traditionally it was felled in the dead of winter, immediately lifted from the soil, and then dried as quickly as possible as a precaution against fungal staining.

It's been several years since I've seen any really white Holly for sale, and I've been looking hard as my stocks for inlay work are now down to just these two boards,

I've been told several times that the problem is we just haven't had a cold enough winter recently to allow stain free felling. That sounds plausible enough, except I've got pretty good contacts in the Canadian timber business and they say they're also struggling to find pure white Holly, despite winters that are far harder than any we've ever had in this country. So, like so much to do with timber, it's all a bit of mystery.

If you've got any decent Holly I'd suggest getting it inside to dry fast, even at the risk of some splitting. I've heard of furniture makers who douse drying Holly in Dettol to try and keep fungal stains away!
By Chris152
Hmmm, I suppose chucking it in the wood pile for 9 months before sawing into logs isn't really the way forward, then.

Notice the traces of green/ blue making their way through the sections. :roll:
By phil.p
I have read somewhere that it should be seasoned standing on end, but my reference books are stored away from builders atm and I can't look it up.
By Chris152
Given that they're so small (12 cm max diameter ) and I want to end up with strips about 12mm x 12mm x whatever length I can get, should I now 'plank' it up as if it were a larger log or just leave them to dry whole? I retested moisture and it's at 21 percent, so I guess the first reading was affected by sap coming out on cutting.
By Chris152
No doubt the commercial yards will be quaking in their boots when they see this.

I made up a jig to hold the logs and cut 6 little boards. They're between 3/4" and 1" thick which should allow room to plane flat once dry enough. We'll see.
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By custard
Those should last me a good few years, as I mainly use Holly for stringing lines. In the absence of Holly, Sycamore is a good alternative. It's not quite as white, nor quite as close grained, but it's still a pretty good option.
By Chris152
This is finished with boiled linseed oil and uses walnut, beech, oak and maple. The oil's not cured or waxed yet but I'm really pleased with how it's accentuated the different grains.

Thanks all.

ps the walnut's only 10cm wide so I'm hoping the long (oak)/ cross grain (walnut) won't cause any issues with the walnut expanding...