A refinishing question

About 10 years ago a made a dresser from red oak to match in as much detail as possible an existing red oak dresser in our bedroom.
Time has passed and we moved the original red oak furniture out to another room and bought some cherry furniture that must be stained because it is fairly dark.
Problem: how to refinish my red oak dresser to at least fit in with new furniture. I don't expect it to look much like what we bought but I would like the finish to be closer than what I have now.
I finished the red oak dresser with poly. I have read about a way to get poly off using orange gel paint remover. Sounds like a nasty job especially on the drawer fronts which have a lot of three dimensionality to them (raised pulls etc etc.) Is there any product I can use that would work OVER the poly?
TIA.
Dick Snyder
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[...snip...]

You might consider dewaxed shellac. I'd start with cleaning the dresser, then a 1+/- lb washcoat of blonde shellac. Then you can apply a stain as a "toner" layer and then apply shellac over it to "seal" the stain in, or just tint the shellac with Transtint or alcohol based dye.
Once that's done, if you want something more durable, you could put on more poly or pretty much anything else over the shellac.
I mix my shellac from flakes; if you use Zinnser Sealcoat, check the can to be sure it isn't more than 3 years old.
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Thanks Jim. That seems like a lot less hassle than trying to remove the poly. A couple of days ago I made a test board of oak with two coats of poly. I will give this solution a shot. In your experience do you think I will have better luck applying stain over the shellac or tinting it as I apply it? I am trying to recolor red oak (has a slight orange tint after 10 years) to something that will go with a darkish cherry. The two dressers are 10 feet apart so I am not trying to match so much as make the differences not stand out so much.
Dick
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Another possibility is to just use colored poly like Norm does. Be sure to thoroughly clean the piece first and scuff sand it. Art
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I don't recall Norm doing that. Did he mix stain in the poly?
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He uses it on just about every show they are rerunning here in the Portland OR area for the last few months. I don't recall him ever saying if he mixes it himself or buys it.
Google give lot's of hits on "tinted polyurethane finish". Art
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On Sat, 20 Nov 2010 15:57:40 -0500, Dick Snyder wrote:

I use shellac a lot. I usually wipe on a couple of coats of clear first, then one or more coats with dye until I get the shade I want, and then finish up with a few more coats of clear.
BTW, I know Zinnser says 3 years, but on those rare occasions when it lasts that long I toss it after 2 years (from date of manufacture).
--
Intelligence is an experiment that failed - G. B. Shaw

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[...snip...]

I think either way should work.
Logically it seems more direct to apply stain over the shellac and work to get the final color you want and then more shellac to seal that in. Compare that to using a dye in the shellac and then sneaking up to a final color with multiple coats of tinted shellac, it seems like you will get there quicker.
But personally I am not a big fan of stain, since it tends to obscure the grain. I've have not used it for this type of application. Practicing on test boards seems like the best way to go with either stain or dye. If you add varying tints to different small samples of shellac onto a test board you should be able to zero in fairly quickly.
Re: comments about tinted poly. Seems to me that multiple coats of poly will take much longer to work out the right tints and number of coats since the drying time is quite long by comparison to shellac, which dries very quickly. If you are putting on multiple poly coats, be sure to use gloss rather than satin, because satin includes silica particles that cloud the effect as more coats go on. You can use a clear satin as the final coat.
If I was applying new poly over older poly, I'd still use shellac as a barrier coat in between. For example, if some silicone based wax has been used on the piece, it can cause fisheyes, even after careful cleaning. The shellac is good insurance.
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I want to obscure the grain. The dresser I want to work on is made of red oak - VERY grainy - but the dresser I want to match in color value is some kind of stained cherry.
Thanks for all the help everyone. I am off to work on my samples. I'll probably have to make a bunch more!
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Try some "wood conditioner" or wood sealer and then "paint" the stain on or use coloured poly urethane and build up the colour so it sits on top and not in the grain.
Make sure you use the same brand of poly as the stain or it bubbles and goes streaky with thick stain coatings.
I want to obscure the grain. The dresser I want to work on is made of red oak - VERY grainy - but the dresser I want to match in color value is some kind of stained cherry.
Thanks for all the help everyone. I am off to work on my samples. I'll probably have to make a bunch more!
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On Mon, 22 Nov 2010 09:19:29 -0500, "Dick Snyder"

Disgusting, IMnsHO. Use a grain filler (Behlen Por-O-Pac, etc.) to fill pores and flatten the grain of the oak, too.

No doubt, and check them with the lighting you'll have in the room you put them. Different lighting shows different features of the stain.
-- Experience is a good teacher, but she send in terrific bills. -- Minna Thomas Antrim
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On Sat, 20 Nov 2010 12:14:19 -0500, "Dick Snyder"

That or the nasty chemical strippers using MEK. The orange goo is very simple but messy. Go for it...if you must.

Polyshades, but...
I'd suggest refinishing the cherry furniture instead, Dick. That said, it is possible that they took the worst clashing pieces and stained the crap out of them to finally get a match.
G'luck.
-- Education is when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get if you don't. -- Pete Seeger
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On Sat, 20 Nov 2010 12:14:19 -0500, "Dick Snyder"

Dick, if you are a good woodworker, it might be easier just to make another new dresser.
Clare Snyder
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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca says...

Another application for the much-maligned Minwax Polyshades.
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On Sat, 20 Nov 2010 21:37:01 -0700, J. Clarke wrote

I've done this by just tinting some poly with the appropriate stain and then top coating. You can go darker and change the hue, but obviously going lighter doesn't work with this method.
Look at a color chart to determine what to do. I can't remember for sure at the moment, but to kill a reddish hue, apply a yellow/greenish stain (again, look at a color chart to verify this)
-Bruce
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wrote:

According to my color wheel I would use some combo of blue and purple to kill the yellow/orange of my 10 year old red oak
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On Mon, 22 Nov 2010 07:26:37 -0700, Dick Snyder wrote

Ummm, you're not mixing paint.
Using a reddish (Mahogany) tint over a yellowish surface will produce a more brownish tone.
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Use a Gel Stain, it is just poly and color premixed. Clean and lighly sand first.
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Why change it? Nothing wrong with mixed colors. I have seen some oak furniture stained to try and match cherry and I did not care for it, but thats just me. Also as a 10 year old you should use anti fisheye. Don't forget all the dints and dings tell a story.
Joe M.

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