Desperate for Advice on Mahagony

Old 09-21-22, 10:48 PM
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Question Desperate for Advice on Mahagony

I don't know where else to ask this question because I feel the answer from the woodworker may not be the best. A little under 6 months ago I needed a temporary grave marker. Unfortunately, I did not have the means to engrave or print name & info on anything I could make. I searched online for days and finally settled on a merchant. Family decided on the style and although I had my own budget in mind, I decided against stained pine as I had concerns about outdoor use. I was unsure about quality or other issues would negatively affect look and longevity. I 'splurged' on the Mahagony, believing from some research that with proper care, this was the color/look we all liked.

The company instructs on both their website and on a note included with the product, to apply a new coat of Thompson's Water Seal once a year. The cross looked beautiful when it arrived although I was a little surprised that I didn't notice anything which (in my unprofessional mind,) looked like a sealant. Perhaps this is normal for T's WS and other similar products. The front of the cross has decorative engraving as well as a name and dates. It took a good deal of time and effort to make this memorial secure and welcoming. To my dismay, exactly one month later I returned and was taken back by the change in color of the cross. Not all family members had seen the cross in person when it still had the reddish shade. Less than 30 days after that, I received photos from a sibling. I couldn't believe the further 'decline' and as I enlarged both the front and back of the cross, I noticed an odd 'waterline' around all of the edges of the cross - the bottom too. I contacted the company owner and supplied three pictures from each month and asked why there would be such a drastic look after less than 30 days, and to find further degradation within 60 days. I pointed out that the most recent photos made the (front especially) look so old and weathered and asked why and what could I do to 'restore' it to the original look. I had noted that I was surprised to find online - many sources (including Thompson's own website,) complaining about the performance of TWS, and many comments of repeat users reporting many types of complaints but noting that they felt perhaps the formulation was different than it had been in the past. I asked if perhaps possible and maybe other customers had not contacted them with issues.

The first response indicated to apply a new coat of Thompson's Water Seal, and if the result wasn't to my liking, apply mineral oil. I thought mineral oil made sense if this was an indoor cutting board, but not for outdoor use. Before sending my response, I did some more online research. Hard to find photos of what outdoor Mahagony should look like. Depending upon the site or blog, there are different ways that woodworkers describe the color of mahogany. All I wanted was the look I chose. When I looked at sealing options for outdoor applications, mineral oil did not come up as a recommended choice. And as far as commercial products, there were a number of options considered to be the best - nowhere could I find Thompson's as a woodworker's recommendation.


Merchant (center was the look we wanted.)

Photos of the back only. L-R Brand new, 30 days later and 60 days later.
In my reply to the owner of the company, I voiced my concern over a new layer of water seal because I wasn't sure if this would just preserve the current look (which is probably so much worse than mid-July) thus showing the drip/watermarks so visible on both sides of the cross. I also asked if the cross was originally stained to give it the color chosen. The owner replied that after looking at the photos she is "confident that a layer of water seal will do the trick," and that it had not been stained - it was purely the TWS.

Sorry for the long post but at this point I have not a clue if this advice is in fact the way to 'revive' the look of the wood. I don't know how I missed any info online that would indicate Mahagony would fade so quickly in the elements. In fact, I do remember sources indicating that outdoor furniture would either get a richer color with time or to make sure yearly to maintain with a good quality sealant to protect against UV and water damage. To me this cross looks like it suffered UV damage within the first 30 day and worsened by the next 30. I don't know what product I should now be purchasing as I tend to agree with others, Thompson's doesn't offer much in the positive department. I see online that my options are large quantities at prices which exceed the extra amount I paid to go with Mahagony over pine. I have no other use for a gallon+. Have no idea if I will need to sand and if so how this may detract from the engraving on the frontside. And whatever the remedy, it has to be done onsite as I do not live in the same state, and I am the 'crafty' sibling who put the temporary grave memorial together.

I've put together in one image, pictures of the back of the cross from May, June & July. Hopefully the fine details (especially July) are viewable and recommendations can be made. Assistance is greatly appreciated.
Old 09-22-22, 12:10 AM
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OMG, fell asleep after 5 min, is there a short version of a question in there somewhere?
Old 09-22-22, 01:52 AM
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I agree - this post is too long. That said, anyone who recommended Thompson's would not be someone I would use.
Old 09-22-22, 03:22 AM
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I have limited experience with mahogany on the exterior. I think I'd try cleaning it with a wood brightener and see if that brings the color back. TWS typically last 6-12 months but only protects against water damage and gives very little UV protection. Flood's CWF or another almost clear deck stain would be a better choice.
Old 09-22-22, 06:52 AM
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This mahogany porch floor (photo taken today) was installed in 2017 and finished with one (1) coat of Penofin penetrating natural stain. (I do not recall the color but "rose oil" comes to mind.) The porch is partially covered but the part near the steps gets rain and snow and the entire section is subject to 6 to 8 hours of daily afternoon sun. (The white spot is a bird dropping.)
In 2021 it was recoated with the following:
The original finish had faded and worn but did not need to be sanded before the new coat was applied.

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