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good finish for Macassar?

joshua wood

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Hi all,

Can anyone suggest a good way to finish Macassar ebony? Im still kinda noobish and dont have much experience with fine finishing techniques. I dont want a heavy thick coating of anything so i am thinking along the lines of an oil or wax. What would really bring out that warmth and character of the macassar? Specific types and properties would be very much appreciated.


Thanks in advance,


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Hi Guys,


I think the shine will last longer with a few coats of thinned oil (Thung- or Danish-) and I would sand to a finer grit (800 at least).

Buffing is only pushing the grain down till it closes, the white buffing compound (and the woodgrain) will react to moist from your hands.


Please show us what you made.


Greetings, Leon.

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Do you have some scraps of that piece of wood that you can use to sample the various finishing techniques? That is a highly recommended exercise.


I am cautious about using the polishing compounds on wood, fearing the color contrast residue that tends to be left behind. Also, don't the compounds have a wax or oil based binder in them, which would contribute in some way to what happen to the wood when being used?


I may have used Watco Danish Oil on the piece Wood & Moth http://www.janeljacobson.com/carvings/.html which is either Gabon or Macassar Ebony. It eventally stopped looking "oiled", but has a protecting finish, more or less. I have not wetted it to try it out though.


Please do try out your finishing options on a prepared surface of the same sort of wood, to learn about your options.



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thanks everyone.

I actually, sanded down to 800 then used micromesh 3600 grit and 12,000 grit. The macassar took a glassy shine, but it doesn't last. I do have some scraps laying around. I think I'll probably end up using thung or Danish oil but try out a variety of waxes and polishes on the scraps. Janel, one of my concerns was that the oil would lose its finish in time, but it's a personal piece and I don't mind reapplying the oil every once in a while. If I were selling it, I think I would seek a longer lasting finish.

I'll post images as soon as I replace the batteries in my camera.;) Probably in a day or so. Its about 90% finished, so you'll see some of the, gasp, rough spots. But you will, at least, have an idea of what I am working on.





BTW: that knife handle looked really silky and nice to touch.

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As promised....

Mibro Buffing and Polishing Compound (white)

1st stage, Heavy cleaning.


I have several colors of this product by Mibro, but all I ever use is the white anymore. It works on all of my buffing projects. On a side note when buffing black micarta or ebony, first, I buff my wedding ring to blacken the wheel with the gold, and lay down some of that color on the black mat'l.

It also shines my ring and keeps the wifey happy. :-)

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Thanks Mike,


I'll have to experiment a bit with that - I often like to put sterling silver together with ebony and it would be nice to have a polish for both at the same time.





Actually Magnus, the ring at the base of the handle directly above the guard is sterling silver. The guard and butt pieces are stainless steel and on the very tip is a little nickel silver flower which you can barely see in this pic.

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i finally was able to get some pics organized. It's just my interpretation of war clubs typical to Fiji with carved patterns found on several Polynesian islands. It's by no means an accurate replica of, or in the direct style of authentic Fijian war clubs. I'm having fun with it, so no biggie, eh? :)

The piece still has hours and hours of carving left to do before i can start applying the finish.







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The club looks very good. I like the curves in the shape and the carving seems very tidy.

Will you be trying it out? :)




I may keep it next to my bed in order to fool myself into thinking I'm tough enough to protect my house. other than that, it'll just have to be a conversation piece. :)


I think i had more fun researching and learning about the cultures that these types of weapons come from more than the the actual creation of it.


Thanks for the kind words


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