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Looking for a very transparent plywood finish...ideas?
Looking for a very transparent plywood finish...ideas?
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Old 25th July 2010, 03:27 PM   #1
Glowbug is offline Glowbug  United States
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Default Looking for a very transparent plywood finish...ideas?

Hey all,

After looking at my unfinished BIBs for a while, I've decided I like them the shade they are now But I do want to get some kind of finish on them...most stains I've tried on sample pieces darken the wood too much. Is there a finish that will darken the wood the least, while still protecting it?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 25th July 2010, 03:53 PM   #2
lakeside is offline lakeside  United States
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A water-based polyurethane. Almost crystal clear after it dries. Any home center or hardware store should carry it.

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Old 25th July 2010, 03:53 PM   #3
richie00boy is offline richie00boy  United Kingdom
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Looking for a very transparent plywood finish...ideas?
Clear varnish.
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Old 25th July 2010, 04:05 PM   #4
Scottmoose is offline Scottmoose  United Kingdom
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Birch ply is it? Terry Cain's old favourite was rubbed polyurethene. Paraphrasing from memory, his version was to cut back a clear gloss poly. ~60:40 with mineral spirits. Rub on & wipe off 7-8 coats leaving 24 hours & sanding back with something like 300 grit between each. Beeswax topcoat; shavings from a block of pure beeswax dissolved to a paste in mineral spirits with some essential oil or cheap purfume added, applied with 0000 steel wool & buffed with cotten. Gives a faux french polish finish but harder wearing.

I'm no woodworking expert but to the best of my knowledge, the wood is always going to darken somewhat as it's exposed to light over time, and a clear finish isn't going to stop that, although it may hold it up a little.
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Last edited by Scottmoose; 25th July 2010 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 25th July 2010, 09:09 PM   #5
AMV8 is offline AMV8  United Kingdom
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I believe that the only wood finish that will not darken the wood is Chinese laquer. It is made from the laquer tree or varnish tree but differs from other varnishes and finishes in the way it sets. It polymerises. It is clear and extremely tough.
If you can find some it will be the best of all.

I believe that the closest modern alternative is acrylic laquer. If you use this I think the non water based type will soak into the wood least and stain the wood the least - however the non water based type is more difficult to use than the water based type and I have only seen the non water based type as a two pack compound that you mix as needed. I used this on my natural English oak hall and dining room floors about 12 years ago and they are still unmarked. I applied three coats and the final coat I simply applied and allowed to set without sandpapering or rubbing. If you can keep the final coat dust free this normally works ok. The only cleaning it gets is washing with a damp cloth. I avoid polishes and waxes as they form a surface layer that attracts dust.

Next best I think is water based acrylic laquer.

I will be interested to see what you decide as I like the look of natural wood finishes.

Hope this helps
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Old 26th July 2010, 03:19 AM   #6
ArtG is offline ArtG  United States
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Possibly the best (and most expensive) solution would be to find a furniture or cabinet shop and have the wood professionally sprayed with either a two part, i.e., catalyzed, polyurethane, or lacquer. Catalyzed finishes are much more durable than any other, any will do a much better job of protecting the wood than any other known type. Brushing or wiping on other types of finish is generally second to a sprayed finish, particularly if you are looking for a completely transparent "look".
I recently purchased a "rattle can" of Minwax clear lacquer to use on the black lacquer bases for a pair of speaker stands that I was working on. It was horrible, and I ended up tossing half the can in the trash!
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Old 26th July 2010, 03:42 AM   #7
jackinnj is offline jackinnj  United States
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Looking for a very transparent plywood finish...ideas?
You might want to "antique" the finish to blonde it up, the use a lacquer finish. Deft is quite a good finish and easy to work with.
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