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DrPhill

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I usually do not attempt a very smooth finish to my projects as I hand-carve them. For a recent project, though I decided to go for a high gloss polished finish. While I was quite pleased with the result, the wood seems to have a structure which prevents a 'mirror finish'. In the grain of the wood, each running cross-wise, there are small 'features' that seem to be part of the structure of the timber - the dimples are grouped along the pattern of the grain, rather than looking like tooling marks. They show up as small shallow depressions. I tried to get a picture but they are hard to photograph.

I am not unduly worried - wood has character after all, but wondered if this is typical of some timbers. I am using a reddish, darkish hardwood that I reclaimed from a set of shelves - could be mahogany (see the box in my sig line). Is there a term for this 'texture'? I have seen some cabinets finished to a mirror polish, so is that the choice of timber, or some secret finishing method? Will these marks eventually disappear under the weight of my home-made furniture wax?

Any and all thoughts welcome.

Thanks
 

AndyT

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You're right, this is part of the structure of the wood - the holes are the vessels that transport sap up and down the tree. (Others more expert than me will provide the proper biological terms.)

To get a mirror finish on wood like that, you will need to use a grain filler first. There's a lot more to trad glossy finishing than just wiping on some oil - which I guess is why so few of us do it - I don't.

Nice carving though!
 

DrPhill

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Thanks Andy, for confirming that I am thinking along the right lines, and for liking my carved box.

I remember the structure of xylem and phloem from school biology, and I could imagine the features that I can see being the spaces between 'cross-members' in the tubes.

I could imagine using a filler to level out these dimples, but it would need to be very fine (to fill the holes), very sticky (the holes are shallow) and very strong (to withstand sanding). I would be interested to hear what is used and how a colour is chosen. I am not sure that many of my projects will warrant a mirror finish but it would be nice to know how.

I have encountered 'french polishing' (polish, dry, sand, polish, dry, sand, ........) which I could imaging filling the dimples (and encasing the entire piece in a 'plastic' coating), but I prefer the idea of natural wax.
 

DrPhill

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marcros":1qdq3no8 said:
shellac is a natural wax isnt it?
And Tung nut oil, and a host of others. Ok, I retract the adjective 'natural'. Replace 'but I prefer the idea of natural wax.' with 'but I prefer the idea of bee's wax'. :D

I make my own bee's wax polish with bee's wax(!) and turpentine, but I do not (yet) distill my own turpentine.
 

marcros

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fair enough! I thought that was probably what you were getting at.
 

RogerS

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AndyT":nnhy3at1 said:
....

To get a mirror finish on wood like that, you will need to use a grain filler first. ...
That's not what grain fillers do or are for. Grain fillers sink in just below the surface to fill up very porous wood such as mahogany. They aren't used for filling in the summer/winter growth patterns, for example.
 

AndyT

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RogerS":29is0y41 said:
AndyT":29is0y41 said:
....

To get a mirror finish on wood like that, you will need to use a grain filler first. ...
That's not what grain fillers do or are for. Grain fillers sink in just below the surface to fill up very porous wood such as mahogany. They aren't used for filling in the summer/winter growth patterns, for example.
Now I'm even more confused. I thought that Dr Phil's box was made of a porous, mahogany sort of wood:



but I'm happy to be corrected if this is something I have misunderstood.
 

DrPhill

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I had assumed that it was mahogany - but I know very little about timber identification. It had the right sort of reddish brown colour, and seemed to behave as I expected a hardwood to behave.

I also would be more than happy to get a positive identification of the timber, if that is possible.

Some different pieces with the same wood can be found here. Boxes 2 and 3 have the most polished finish, which might reveal the grain better for identification.
 

kevin dwyer

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ukw7.JPG

hi phil, basic concept of polishing is to stain to a colour that is somewhere in between the dark and light shades in your wood. This is mahogany and nothing unusual about that. With the type of old fashioned finish you're thinking of, the colour is mostly in the stain. The wood you have is not brazilian mahogany which is a deep red colour with finer grain so this means you have to try and make it that colour should you want to.

To polish as in the stool. Van Dyke crytal water stain, diluted, two coats of sanding sealer, ease back, and two coats of clear wax. Kev.
 

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soulboy

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kevin dwyer":26asllrd said:
[basic concept of polishing is to stain to a colour that is somewhere in between the dark and light shades in your wood. With the type of old fashioned finish you're thinking of, the colour is mostly in the stain.
Hi kev, not sure where you get these statements from, finishing wood is far from as straight-forward as you have suggested. For instance, the pale stripe on your stool is very obvious, which a proper understanding of pigments & stains could reduce and the red colour can be avoided if the bare surface is not flooded with liquid.
chris
 
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