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How to finish without yellowing?

ingrainedcreations's picture

Even with clear shellac, I notice a darkening & yellowing of the natural wood.  Is there a way to protect & shine up without yellowing or darkening?  The closest I could get with flaming box elder was to use a semi-transparent whiteish base coat of deck stain to protect & add shine without turning the wood darker & yellowish.  Any thoughts appreciated.

SteveSchoene's picture

(post #112462, reply #1 of 3)

Your best bet for keeping wood yellowing is to use a waterborne acyrlic finish.  Avoid varieties that add amber dye.  The dye is added for those who prefer the richer, more traditional look imparted by oil based finishes.  The acyrlic won't yellow over time and will have the least amount of darkening of any protective finish.   Clear wax also doesn't darken wood very much, but then it offers virtually no protection. 

But remember to some extent you are seeking something impossible.  Wood naturally darkens and changes color over time in reaction to oxygen and UV light.  This natural change can't really be prevented, short of storing the wood in a dark, vacuum.  You can stain it white, but personally, obscuring the wood with pigment would be more objectionable than a small color change that brings out the grain and figure in the wood. 

Test your finish on scrap, FIRST, or risk having to scrap your finish.

Rich14's picture

(post #112462, reply #2 of 3)

In addition to Steve's suggestion, here are methods I have used that (greatly) minimize - nothing can completely eliminate - darkening of wood. I particularly dislike the way maple yellows, I love maple in it's freshly-worked appearance.

Ultra-blond shellac will not add any amber color. The "clear" shellac you are using is not "clear" enough. Ultra blond is only available as flakes and you'll need to mix your own.

CAB-Acrylic lacquer (Cellulose Acetate Butyrate Acrylic) goes down water-white, doesn't yellow with age and retards maple's tendency to yellow (I don't know if it does the same with other woods). CAB-Acrylic handles exactly like ordinary nitrocellulose lacquer. It uses the same kinds of solvents and sprays just the same. Other, more exotic lacquers, including catalyzed are also non-yellowing.

Just about any water-borne finish is non-yellowing. I have found Varathane Crystal Clear Gloss varnish excellent. Other brands should work as well.


ingrainedcreations's picture

(post #112462, reply #3 of 3)

Thanks a bunch, Rich.  I'll experiment with this new-found information.