Finish for Claro Walnut. Advice please.
#7
  
I'm about half way through a build of a Maloof style rocker. The wood is Claro Walnut. It is beautiful wood and I want to do it justice in the finish. I have never grain filled Walnut before, but I think it will be necessary here. Right now, I'm thinking of just creating a sanding slurry with the finish as opposed to using a commercial filler. I am also looking for a clear coat - I assume oil- that won't darken the wood too much as I don't want to lose the highlights in the multi colored wood. Obviously I will test the finish on scrap before I commit it to the project, but I'd appreciate hearing from anyone with some hands on knowledge. Thank you.
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#8
  Re: Finish for Claro Walnut. Advice please. by ed kerns (I'm about half way t...)
I am not a finishing expert. So, I would not "advise" you on the proper or best finish. But, I will tell you that my favorite finish is an old time equal parts mix of BLO, MS, and varnish. You wipe it on in multiple thin coats and you can sand it in to fill the grain as you suggest. If you do a web search, you will find lots of information about it. You can vary the mix some to effect the build or drying time. If you want a somewhat lighter color, substitute tung oil for the BLO, If you can't find varnish (alkyd) you can substitute polyurethane. I like to use turpentine instead of MS because it smells better. And, you can add some japan drier if you like to speed up drying between coats. Don't do this if you are going to sand in a slurry. Good luck. We would love to see some pics when it's finished.
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#9
  Re: Finish for Claro Walnut. Advice please. by ed kerns (I'm about half way t...)
The only time I've slurry sanded to fill grain has been on table tops, and it can really give you a glass smooth finish. But I think doing it on all parts of a chair would be an incredible amount of work.....still, I wish you the best and look forward to pics of how it turns out.
I started with absolutely nothing. Now, thanks to years of hard work, careful planning, and perseverance, I find I still have most of it left.
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#10
  Re: Finish for Claro Walnut. Advice please. by ed kerns (I'm about half way t...)
I have filled the grain on walnut pieces in the past, but those were dressers and desks with flat surfaces. For those I used an oil based grain filler and it is a bit tedious to get the grain filled with out muddying the walnut, but the results are really nice. I did build a Maloof style rocker with walnut and semi filled the grain using a varnish, blo, mineral spirits mix for a few coats with a good rub down with grey scotchbrite pads in between prior to adding bees wax to the mix.

I am now working on a gunstock and have been reading up on grain filling from a gun builder's perspective. Most like to use some sort of varnish, either a spar or a alkyld. I am planning on using Waterlox. Their method was to apply several coats then sand back to wood and repeat a few time. It is not something that can be done in a weekend or two. More like 2 or 3 months. I did try Birchwood Casey Gun Stock Filler on some small projects, and that is a PITA to use.
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#11
  Re: Finish for Claro Walnut. Advice please. by ed kerns (I'm about half way t...)
Arm-R-Seal is a very light wiping varnish and looks great on eastern walnut, the only kind I've used.  I like the look of open grained walnut, but if you want to fill it I would either use an OB grain filler, or do as Scoony described and just sand back after 2 or 3 coats, rinse and repeat until it's all filled.  

Tru-Oil is another finish that many like on walnut.  Also a wipe on varnish.  

John
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#12
  Re: Finish for Claro Walnut. Advice please. by ed kerns (I'm about half way t...)
Thank you guys! I really appreciate your input. One of the reasons I've decided to fill the grain is because in places this is wildly figured almost burly wood. There are some areas with tiny voids that I think I can fill with sanding slurry. There are also a couple of small areas that will need epoxy filler, but I'd like to keep the epoxy to a minimum. This is my second chair. The first was about 3 years ago - just long enough to forget much of the procedure. The first was made of Cherry. As it happens, a much easier wood to work with.
There are a couple of YouTube vids showing some guys filling and finishing a big Claro slab. Oddly enough they are using Sam Maloof finish. I don't think that is made anymore, but it doesn't sound like a difficult recipe to duplicate if I decide to go that way. Right now Seal a Cell and Armor Seal are on my list to try.
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