Have you ever seen a piece of curly maple with a flat surface that looked like it was actually sculpted and contoured? This curly maple finish effect is caused by the way that light interacts with the different grain patterns in the curly material, and many woodworkers agree that is one of the most spectacular things to see in a woodworking project.
To feature this effect in a project, the first step is to find some curly maple. Most maple species can have this type of figure, but it is more pronounced in soft varieties of maple. Be patient when you are looking for “just the right piece” of maple; you’ll know when you find it.
Once you find your special piece of curly maple, you can simply sand it and apply clear coat finish, and it will look nice. But if you want your curly maple finish to “pop,” there is a simple approach that will dramatically enhance the appearance of your project.
Apply some dye. Sand the piece smooth. Then, following George’s instructions, apply brown dye to the piece and allow it to soak in. It’s best to use the light mixing ratio that is suggested, so that you can build to the desired darkness gradually rather than trying to do it in one pass.
Sand it again. After you’ve reached your desired darkness, you’ll sand the piece again, removing the darkness from areas where it wasn’t able to penetrate deeply, which will create a contrast with areas where it remains.
Apply your top coat. After you are pleased with the contrast, apply your topcoat to protect the wood and further enhance the curly maple finish.
After you’ve perfected this curly maple finish technique, perhaps try using it in a project such as a cremation urn, accent table, or special cabinet.