Tannic acid is used in conjunction with ferric or iron nitrate (also available from Kibler's Longrifles) in the staining process to accentuate maple figure. A solution of tannic acid (1 Tbs dissolved in 1 pint of water) is prepared and applied to the bare stock. After this dries, the iron nitrate is applied. A reaction between the iron nitrate and tannic acid occurs forming an iron tannate compound which is very dark in color. Once it air dries, the surface should be heated with a heat gun. After this step, the entire stock is quite dark.
Next comes abrading the stock to work the stain off the long grain wood to bring out the figure. This process relies in the varying grain direction of figured wood. The stain can be fairly easily removed from the long grain regions, but is quite permanent in the end grain areas since the stain is absorbed pretty deeply.
A combination of fine sand paper and woven abrasive Scotch-Brite pads work well. It is also helpful to use oil or finish during this process, to keep the abrasives from becoming plugged and to evaluate the progress.
After the stock was worked back sufficiently, apply finish.
The photos shown are real results attained following these instructions. This shows burl maple, but this method will also work well on other highly figured maple.