How To Finish Jatoba Wood – A Guide For Beginners

Introducing jatoba wood, an exotic hardwood with stunningly beautiful grain patterns that makes it one of the top choices for high-end furniture and flooring. But, the journey to get your jatoba wood looking amazing isn’t an easy one. This guide will help you learn how to finish jatoba wood correctly, so that your piece maintains its natural beauty and durability for years to come. You’ll learn all about the best grades of jatoba wood and their various uses, as well as how and when to use different wood finishes and protective topcoats for the best look. Armed with this knowledge, you can confidently embark on your journey to create a uniquely beautiful piece of jatoba wood that will be the envy of your family and friends.

What is Jatoba Wood?

Jatoba wood, also known as Brazilian cherry, is a very popular hardwood from South America, primarily from Brazil and Central America. It is a medium-sized hardwood with a very dense grain and an attractive reddish color with various brown streaks. Jatoba has an unmistakable tropical look and is often used in flooring, furniture making, and cabinetry. It has high durability, strength, and resistance to weathering, making it a great choice for outdoor projects as well. With its attractive and unique grain patterns, jatoba wood can make any project stand out.

Jatoba wood is also very easy to work with. It is smooth to cut and sand, and it finishes well with most types of varnishes and sealers. It can be stained without pre-treatment and can be colored quite easily. It also takes glues and finishes well and resists shrinking, swelling, and warping. This makes jatoba wood ideal for both inside and outside use.

Jatoba has a relatively low resistance to fungus, but it is not generally considered to be a suitable choice in high-humidity or coastal areas. It is also susceptible to UV damage, so precautions should be taken if it is going to be used outdoors. Overall, jatoba wood is a great choice for any woodworking project, offering both beauty and durability.

Preparation for Finishing Jatoba Wood

Before you begin the process of finishing Jatoba wood, there are a few steps to prepare the wood for the best results. It is important to sand the wood with the grain of the wood, using the correct grit sandpaper. Coarser sandpaper should be used first, working up to finer grits. This removes any remaining debris, smooths the wood and makes it more receptive to the finish. Once you have sanded the wood, use a vacuum or damp cloth to clean any loose dust before moving on to the next step.

It is also crucial to prepare the wood by applying a sealer prior to finishing. This helps protect the wood from potential damage, ensures the colors are vibrant, and brings out the natural beauty of the wood. You can use a variety of sealers, depending upon the desired finish, but a sealer with UV protection is recommended for lasting results.

Finally, before applying the finish, make sure you check for knots and other blemishes, and fill them in with a putty or filler to give the wood an even surface. This further prepares the wood for the finishing procedure and minimizes the potential for further damage. With the wood properly prepped, you are now ready to apply the finish.

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Best Wood Finishes to Use for Jatoba Wood

Finding the right finish for jatoba wood is essential for protecting it and bringing out its natural color and texture of the wood. When selecting a finish, it is important to keep in mind the intended purpose of the wood. For example, for an indoor piece of furniture, choose a finish that will provide a hard protective barrier like varnish or a tung oil finish.

When finishing jatoba wood, some discretion should be taken in selecting the right finish, as some may bring out the dark hues of the wood better, while others may bring out the lighter color. For example, some tinted oils such as antique wax or teak oil may be used to enhance the wood’s existing color. For those who prefer a natural look, a water based polyurethane, or a Danish oil, can be used to bring out the natural color and grain of the wood.

For outdoor projects, an exterior finish such as a UV protective varnish or an outdoor urethane can help protect jatoba wood from being damaged by the sun and rain. A finish that can protect against mildew and mold is important, especially in high humidity climates. For highly exposed wood surfaces, a good option would be a semi-transparent stain with a semi-gloss urethane finish, as this will give the wood strong protection and help to prevent fading.

Overall, the best wood finish to use on jatoba wood will depend on the intended purpose of the wood and the level of protection it needs. When selecting a finish, take into account the desired look and the climate in which it will be located to ensure that the chosen finish is the best option for the job.

How to Stain Jatoba Wood

Staining jatoba wood is similar to staining any other type of wood, however specific techniques and considerations should be kept in mind when working with jatoba. It is important to thoroughly sand the wood surface before staining to ensure the stain is able to take and to create a smooth finish. Use a sandpaper with a grit no lower than 120 to gently scuff the wood surface.

The type of stain selected should be one that is specifically formulated for hardwoods and semi-transparent stains are a quality option for jatoba wood. After the wood surface is sanded, clean off any dust with a damp cloth as a dust-free surface is essential for proper staining. Test the color of the stain on a scrap piece of jatoba wood prior to applying it to the main object to ensure it is the desired color and to make sure it looks good on the jatoba wood.

When applying the stain, use a brush or a cloth to rub the stain into the wood in the direction of the grain. After applying the stain to the jatoba wood, allow it to sit for several minutes before wiping off any excess with a clean cloth. Use a damp rag to help work the stain into the wood for a deeper appearance. Allow the stain to dry completely before applying a topcoat.

Protective Top Coats for Jatoba Wood

If you’re looking for protection for your jatoba wood project, there are several top coats to choose from. The most important factor to consider is the environment in which the wood will be displayed or used. If the wood is going to be placed outdoors, you’ll want a top coat that is resistant to the elements, such as rain, snow, or extreme temperatures. Likewise, if the wood will be used indoors, you’ll want a top coat that does not yellow or fade the jatoba.

When dealing with outdoor furniture, an oil-based finish is usually the best product to use. This type of finish will penetrate deeply into the wood and provide an extra layer of protection against moisture and temperature swings. For outdoor furniture that won’t be stored outside, a water-based finish will do the job as well. This type of finish dries quickly and provides a good level of protection while still allowing the natural beauty of the wood to shine through.

For general indoor furniture, water-based finishes work best. These finishes are easy to apply, do not yellow or fade the jatoba, and provide excellent protection for the piece. Water-based finishes also come in matte, satin, and gloss levels, so you can choose the finish that best suits the room.

Finally, if you’re looking for a more rustic finish for your jatoba wood, you can use a wax-based top coat. This type of top coat provides protection while still allowing the natural beauty of the wood to show through. Wax-based finishes are a good option if you want an aged or distressed look to your furniture.

Before you start applying any top coats to your jatoba wood project, make sure to read the instructions on the product label carefully. Different top coats will have different methods for application and you want to make sure you get the best results possible.

Tips and Tricks for Getting the Best Finish on Jatoba Wood

When finishing Jatoba wood, one must remember the hardwood’s severe grain that can be tough to manage when staining and finishing. To get the best results on Jatoba wood, start by sanding the wood with a grain of grit between 120 and 150. This level of sanding is necessary to avoid the grain lines from being too prominent. Additionally, sanding allows the wood to have a uniform color and smoothness.

To achieve a glossy finish on Jatoba wood, buffing is recommended. Hand buffing with a soft cloth allows the wood to become smoother and shinier; however, it can be quite time-consuming. To save time and energy, electric buffers can be utilized. Additionally, a protective coating can be applied to the wood to keep its sheen longer.

Using a combination of finishes can create a stunning look on Jatoba wood. Consider combining a tinted oil finish and a varnish or lacquer finish to get a unique look on the wood. The oil finish helps bring out the natural tones of the wood, while the varnish or lacquer adds a layer of protection and a glossy shine.

For a rustic look, no stain needs to be applied. By utilizing natural hues, the beauty of the wood can be brought out without any color changes. Utilizing multiple procedures and techniques can provide stunning results.

Gently rubbing a wax finish into Jatoba wood helps protect the wood while emphasizing its color and grain. Wax can also be used to combine two finishes while also adding a deeper shine.

When it comes to getting the best finish on Jatoba wood, no one technique can provide the perfect result. Careful consideration of which applications to use, and in what order to use them, is key to getting the best the finish possible. Through careful planning, the beauty of Jatoba wood can be showcased and admired for years to come.


Devin B

Hi everyone! My name is Devin and I'm the author of this website about tips for woodturning and wood finishing. I'm an avid woodworker and have been doing it for over a decade. I'm constantly learning new techniques and experimenting with new materials and finishes.

I started my journey in woodworking when I was a teenager, making furniture for my bedroom and small projects for my family. As I got older, my interest in woodturning and wood finishing grew. I took classes on the subject and read books on the topic.

I'm passionate about woodturning and wood finishing because it allows me to express my creativity in a tangible way. I love the satisfaction of seeing a piece of wood that I have transformed from a block of raw material into a beautiful finished product.

I hope you find the tips and advice on this website helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me. I'm always happy to help out and share my experiences. Thanks for visiting my website!