desk finishing question


I recently built a office desk out of red oak with raised panels on the front and sides. My question revolves around the finishing of the desk. I've noticed slight variations in the wood tones and am concern about achieving a consistent finish. I was thinking of using a can of Pecan stain, but would like suggestions on maybe a better way to do this. I'm a newbi when it comes to finishing furniture, except for the stain in a can and poly. Any suggestions?
I've also posted on alt.woodworking, but I thought I would ask this group as well.
Rob
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 10/11/2009 6:05 PM rlz spake thus:

Yes; forget stain.
You seem to be confused between finishing with stain and using clear finishes (varnish, shellac, etc.). If you try and mess around with stain, you're practically guaranteed to introduce even more color variations.
Most woods, including oak, exhibit a range of colors within the same species of wood. This is normal, expected, and usually looks nice. Leave the color alone. Prep the desk as needed (cleaning, steel wool or *minimal* sanding), then use a clear finish (my preference is oil-based varnish, *not* polyurethane, and certainly not water-based varnish). That's it.
--
Found--the gene that causes belief in genetic determinism

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Either enjoy the natural differences, or look into dyes, not stain. The best oak finishes involve some filler coats too, but I've not used them.
Final coat can be polyurethane, but if you want it to look good, you have a few steps after the final coat dries. Let it cure two weeks or more. The wet sand with 400 grit, then 600 grit. Next, rub it with pumice. Clean it off and rub with rottenstone. Finally wax. If you do that extra work it will look like fine furniture, if you just leave the poly coat, it will look like plastic.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Best way to figure this out is to buy a few small cans of what you think might look good. Carefully open them and try them on small scrap pieces of the wood in question. If you only use a teaspoon of stain and are careful, you can seal it back up and return it. Normally I wouldn't use something like this and return it, but in this case one little dab isn't going to really matter. It's also better for the environment, because otherwise you could wind up with 5 cans of stain and all to often no easy and safe way to dispose of it.
If you want a more uniform look, and less of the wood grain to show an alternative is one of the gel stain products. I did my front doors using gel and they came out beautiful.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.