Working with Arbutus wood

by Jim Bergot
(Qualicum Beach BC)

I was lucky enough to inherit a slab of Arbutus wood which was 8'x 17" x 2" thick. I had now planed it to about 1 3/4" and am making a coffee table out of it.

My question is when I tried staining it slightly darker it appeared to be somewhat blotchy. Is there a way to avoid this problem and still darken the finish. I plan on using a low gloss varathane to finish the top for protection. Any suggestions you could give would be appreciated.

Thank you.

Jim Bergot
Qualicum Beach

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Sep 12, 2016
by: Richie Jackson

Hi Ron and other posters,

I too was able to inherit a nice slab of wood, 12/4 thickness, app 16" wide and just over 8 feet long. I have some plans for it, but am unsure whether it is ready to be used or not. The person that supplied it said it wasn't ready for use over a year ago, as the moisture content was deemed a little too green for woodworking. Since then, it has been air drying.

The slab is warped at both ends on one side, and a nice big hump on the other. How should I go about milling this? Should I take it to a mill to be assessed, further treatment? I can email some photos if that would be helpful.

I too would like to join the stain/finishing conversation here. A mineral oil will do?

Aug 02, 2012
staining arbutus wood
by: Marcel

I'm running into a similar problem with a headboard I am building out of arbutus. I'd like to highlight some of the trim a shade or two darker than the main headboard panels but am having trouble getting the stain to penetrate the wood.
My next step will be to thin the Watco oil stain, then possibly try to heat it somewhat to see if I can get it to penetrate better.

Sep 17, 2010
Arbitus Wood finishing
by: Arbutus Ron

Hi Jim!

Well that's a good question. I have never tried to stain Arbutus wood so have no direct experience doing it. I prefer the natural colouring that is highlighted by an oil based wood finish. It may be the complex grain and changing textures that makes it appear blotchy.

The wood will naturally darken slowly with time if you just use a varathane finish. I use polymerized Tung oil, the kind that has been heated, to give a hard and durable finish on some of my sculptures.

Perhaps other readers will have more experience with staining that they could share here.

Let me know how you make out.


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