How to Finish Hard Maple

By Edwin Thomas

Hard maple has a variety of characteristics that make the wood a popular choice for applications from piano casings and furniture to tool handles and bowling alley flooring. However, some of those characteristics make hard maple somewhat tricky to finish properly. Finishing hard maple with wood stain is invariable a headache, demanding extensive sanding and probably the heavy use of conditioners to avoid splotching. Since hard maple has such a lovely color and grain in the first place, the most workable approach is to use a clear finish.

List of Items Needed

  • Handheld vibrating power sander with fine, medium and coarse sandpaper
  • Oscillating tool with wood sandpaper accessories
  • Tack cloth
  • Clear finish, such as linseed oil, mineral oil, beeswax or polyurethane
  • Paint brush
  1. Sand the wood to a fine finish, employing a handheld vibrating power sander for the flat, open spaces and an oscillating tool with wood sandpaper accessories for corners. Eliminate rough and uneven patches with coarse (60-grit) sandpaper, then sand the entire surface with medium (120-grit) and fine (240-grit) sandpaper.

  2. Wipe away dust, sawdust, lint and other debris with a tack cloth.

  3. Brush on a coat of clear finish. For some hard maple applications, such as a chopping block, a food-safe finish such as linseed oil, beeswax or mineral oil is required. For other applications, use either an oil finish or a sealant, such as polyurethane. Use long, even strokes.

  4. Wait overnight and return to apply another coat finish the next day. Oil and wax finishes require multiple coats to achieve a long-lasting finish, but each coat deepens the existing color and grain of the wood. Balance the desired color of the finish with the need to apply multiple coats. Sealants like polyurethane require at least two coats, but a heavily used surface, such as a bar countertop, may require more.

Tips and Warnings

  • Use a dust mask and safety goggles any time you use power sanding tools.

© Demand Media 2011