'40s "Black" Mahogany Finish


During the '40s and '50s mahogany furniture was finished to an almost black color. (At least the back of the drawer fronts looks like mahogany to me, though the rest of the drawer is clearly cherry). I'm trying to restore a piece and need to recreate this finish. Anyone know what the process was?
Thanks Norm
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Norm Dresner wrote:

I inherited a 1920s buffet that color. Hate it. AFAIK, there was no "process" other than stain. Can't give you chapter & verse on the colors but it is obviously black with red.
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Just a VERY dark mahogony stain, if I recall correctly. I had a piano bench that I refinised some years ago. Had a terrible time getting it dark enough. Must have put on three or four doses of stain, and it still wasn't quite right.
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I've had bad luck with dramatic darkening with stain. I'd recommend dye and tint, both using Transtint, black and red mixed. First dye with the transtint in alcohol, to darken to close to dark enough and close to the right red/black mix. Then start padding on shellac with transtint to sneak up on the right color. Finish with clear coats of shellac or other film type finish.
If you're going for a no-film finish, I'd guess you need to get to the right color with the dye with no binder, since I'd suspect that tinted oil wouldn't add much color (BUT THAT IS JUST A GUESS, NOT BASED ON EXPERIENCE).
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professorpaul wrote:

According to Bob Flexnor, the first application of stain, if done right, will 'saturate' (my words, not his) the pores of the wood so that subsequent applications will have no further effect.
Dyes are different.
Regarding OP, can he scrape off a bit of the original finish to verify that the color is in the wood and not in the finish (toning). It may be a black laquer.
Maybe black shoe polish would work. Or as tohers have suggested, spray paint.
Back when wood and metal were the only common materials for furniture, the only alternatives to a natural wood grain were metal or a finish that abscured the wood grain. Nowadays with plywoods, plastics, composites and so on it makes no sense at all to make something out of wood and obscure the grain.
of course OP was not making something new, he was matching something old.
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Norm built an oak corner table 3 or 4 weeks ago. IIRC he used black spray paint. ;~)
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I'm pretty sure Flexnor, Engler, &/or Jewitt, and prob others have a chemical reference for this. I'll see if I can find it later. I'm gonna have to try it. Do you have any idea how expensive a real ebony dresser would be? I've seen pieces 1x2 x36 for like $60 or something. ok for a pool cue. I can only imagine.
could be this: - dogpile.com it (see prefs to new page, and see why)
Flexnor, p82, Potassium Dichromate, ; p305, Sources Of Supply: Old Mill Cabinet Shoppe, PA, Wood Finishing Enterprises, WI
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My uncle made a set of book cases for my father with a pickled black finish over mahogany. Assuming you are not interested in the pickling itself (white filled pores) as I recall:
Watco Ebony stain with a pore filler to get smooth surface then lacquer.
The peices have taken on a fantastic greenish patina over the years.

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