Camouflaging sap wood in red oak

I recently acquired several hundred bd ft of red oak from a neighbor. This deal was consumated with the understanding a fair amount of that stock would be used to build a could shelving units for the small pulic library. The oak was felled by him 17 years ago an has sat in one of his barns largely untouched (except for the racoons that poo'd upon the pile).
I rough cut an planed the components that that I needed. For the most part, I was reading grain and not color when doing the roughing cuts. It was only after I had planed it that I realized that I should have put a higher priority on eliminating sap wood. It's been a long while since I have done any work with red oak and I don't recall sapwood being an issue. Perhaps that stock just had less of it.
Perhaps I'm just being anal and 99% of the library patrons would notice or care, but that's what we do here, right? :-)
The existing "woodwork" at the library is primarily plywood and pine stained on odd color. I told the librarian that I felt it was best not to try to match the existing work and that it would be better to just have those units have their own look. She was fine with that, so I have a fair degree of latittude with the finish.
My preference is to stick with natural wood color in most cases, but this may be a good time to stain.
I'm looking for any and all suggestions on a how to mitigate the sapwood/heartwood contrast in red oak. Will it get more or less pronounced with age?
Thanks,
Steve
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depending on the location, soil type, length of growing season etc. would determine the sap to heart wood ratio. a fast growing tree will have more sapwood. if you place the light colored wood properly on your project it could add to the looks of the final outcome, after all it's all wood. if the wood is only air dry, you should take note of the moisture content once again depending upon the part of the country your in. here in minnesota due to average relative humidity the best air dry we can expect is about 14% emc. ross
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Personally, I don't like the bland color of unstained red oak and usually stain it. Now, I say peronally, I'm sure others like it unstained and maybe in a public library, hidden by books, it doesn't really make a difference anyway. Stain will moderate the color of the sapwood somewhat and enhance the grain. You could always just buy a couple pint or 1/2 pint cans of stain, different shades, at the hardware store and apply some to a scrap piece that has sapwood and see what difference it makes and whether worth the effort to you or not.

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That's about where I'm at. I have some water based dye left over from a project (coincidentally "golden oak") I'll have to see what effect just dying the sapwood sections has.
Then there is the possibility of toning: if I use a polyshades product and give the spawood parts and extra coat or two.
-Steve
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If you are willing to take the time I would suggest making a very dilute mix of the golden oak dye (enough for the whole job). Then using an appropriate sized brush, dye just the sap wood areas. The dye should be light enough that it takes 2 or 3 coats (drying in bewteen) to get near to a similar color. Feather the edges a little differently on each coat. Then, make the mix a little stronger and dye the entire project. Water based dye can be wash out with fresh water as you apply it so you can use rags, etc and really buff out the transitions in color where you have problems, just keep it wet as you apply the over coat.
I think it might be easier to do this to the stock before you start the project, rather than after it is built. You might do some extra work on areas that are hidden in the end but working on flats would be a lot easier.
Experiement with one of the worst boards first, all the way through the process including your final finish. The added reflection of a finish can accentuate color differences that go un-noticed in raw stained stock.
I've done this exact process on small repairs of in-process projects and got decent results. it may take some, sand it out and re-do on occasion but if the final is dark enough it will blend out most of the under color differences. You could even do a slightly darker oil stain finish over the dyed wood for an even stronger over color with better blending. In the end, only you will see the differences.
On Jan 30, 8:44 am, "Stephen M"

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On Wed, 30 Jan 2008 07:35:42 -0500, Stephen M wrote:

Stain on oak really accentuates the large pores. I'd stay away from it. If you feel you have to disguise the sapwood, get some dye. Experiment, starting with a very weak mixture, until you get a color match.
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