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.
I've also posted on alt.woodworking, but I thought I would ask this
group as well.
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
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).
Found--the gene that causes belief in genetic determinism
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
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.
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