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Thread: Sapele Finishing Dilemma

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Plas Llwyngwern, Machynlleth, Wales

    Sapele Finishing Dilemma

    Hi there...

    For reference, the latest on my office project for which I am asking advice is here:

    So... this is the query....
    I now have equivalent of about 25 sheets of sapele 8x4 equivalent which will need finishing. My thoughts are that "pre-finishing" before sticking everything together will make a lot of sense and ensure that all the corners look nice and everything gets an even coat.

    I am pairing the Sapele together with "Kevazingo" or Waterfall Bubinga, which has a beautiful colour and I think I am going to finish straight with some sprayed lacquer; as this seems to make sense for large areas (unless I get better suggestions).

    From what I read, lacquer will be a good, durable finish that will go the distance with wear and tear, is easy enough to repair, and if sprayed will dry quick, so be good for covering large board areas. Is this summation correct? I know people sometimes use different finishes for different areas of furniture, but I'm hoping this will be a good all round choice for durable office furniture.

    If you don't know what Kevazingo is, there is a *great* thread here:

    The problem I am facing is that the grain of the Sapele is freshly cut, very light, and looks a bit; well, insipid. I know it will darken naturally; and I know sometimes people just cover it dark brown to make a deep mahogany imitation; but I'm wondering what the best way to finish it is to try and match it in with the Kevazingo.

    I don't want to go for the full dark brown finish, as this won't look good next to the Kevazingo; but at the same time, I don't want it to look too light and Sixtiesesque. I like the grain of Sapele, but the colour is a little light for my liking.

    What process will take a sensible amount of time, yet bring out the best in the grain, and bring it inline with the KV?

    Also... would you finish any of the following or parts of the following in a different way:

    Wood Panelling

    For example; I wouldn't mind spending more time on a finishing process for the wood panelling around the room, as it will always be on display - but I wouldn't want to finish say inside the cupboards of the desk with a lengthy process!

    Many thanks for your help and ideas.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Cape Cod, Ma.
    Definitely a good call prefinishing your plywood before assembling the boxes.
    no bigger "pain in da butt" than trying to finish the inside of a box and having it blow back in your face... Also, lacquer is a very good choice for all the reasons mentioned.

    As far as getting the colors right. What I would suggest would be to finish a piece of the Kevazingo to give you an accurate color to match. Then seal the sapele. Make up a batch of toner that is lighter than the finished Kezevingo. Use dyes for this. Transtint is a very good choice. Also if you have a color wheel this will help considerably. Spray a coat of toner and let it dry, continue to add coats until the desired color is achieved then topcoat with your lacquer. As far as a sealer is concerned, use whatever is recommended by the lacquer manufacturer. To make the toner for solvent based use lacquer thinner, a bit of lacquer so the dye will grab and a little dye. If you are using a waterborne lacquer then you may consider using dewaxed shellac that you mix from flake. a 1lb cut works very well. Also, use this as your seal coat. TransTint dyes are extremely concentrated so very little goes a long long way

    And, as if you dont know already... test your toner out on scraps first...
    Good luck!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Plas Llwyngwern, Machynlleth, Wales
    Rich you have been a real gent. Your posts are really really really helpful, and I value your advice. As soon as I get near my home PC, I'll post a pic of the test scraps (brush applied not sprayed) just to get a general idea of the colour and finish.

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