finishing question: walnut

I'm putting the finishing touches on a fireplace mantel I build out of walnut, solid and plywood. The plywood walnut is a different species than the solid so there is a slight colour difference between the two. As well, some of the veneer has worn away from a couple of spots on the corners (it was my first attempt at working with this stuff and it wasn't perfect!)
I would like to finish the mantel with something that will keep the natural colour of the wood but I would also like it to have a uniform colour. Is there a finish that I can apply that will not change the colour too much but make it look like it was made from the same species of walnut?
Thanks, Dave.
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Before you do anything with the finish you are contemplating run a test sample on the ply and solid wood. Ply takes color differently the solid wood and just a finish alone may cure the problem for you. If it doesn't no harm no foul.
My favorite for walnut is an oil finish. My preferred oil is Danish.
Keeping in mind that I can't see what you are dealing with a couple of approaches come to mind.
The simplest would be a coat or maybe two of Watco walnut Danish oil on the light stuff and boo boo's the two or three coats of a natural Danish oil over the whole thing. If the colors blend well it's the easy way out.
Next would be mixing up some oil based aniline dyes and add to a natural Danish to get the lighter to match the darker. Not quite so easy since it entails some experimentation.
With either of the above two methods you may want to add a wash coat of 1 LB cut shellac to keep from dragging up the dye into the oil you put over it.
Then there is the use of a surface finish and a toner.
In all cases test on scrap first.
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Mike G.
Heirloom Woods
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An odd preference, since Danish Oil is a varnish/oil mix.
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Nah. The Copenhagen brand is water-based. And those neat round tins that it comes in are good for storing small parts, too.
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And that is odd in what way?
Danish oil, if you want to get ridiculously technical, is a very very very very long oil varnish. That is, it is NOT meant as a building surface finish and the amount of varnish type resins is so small that it is absorbed into the wood cells along with the oil.
Since the largest, by far, component of Danish oil is, hopefully tung oil but could be a reconstituted vegetable oil, you still get the look of an oil finish with a small modicum of extra protection that is provided by the varnish type resins along with better sheen with fewer coats then a non resin containing oil will give you.
Try to build a Danish oil finish and you'll end up with a mess that makes a spar varnish, a higher ration oil to resin VARNISH, with no very's , for flexibility, look like a finish of diamonds.
That is why it is called a Danish OIL, not a Danish VARNISH. The name is also, certainly unintentionally, an excellent guide to newbies, who bother to give the matter a few seconds of thought, a guide as to what to expect from the finish..
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I just finished a small walnut cabinet for a class at the local community college. Now, mind you, it didn't include any plywood so, like another reader suggested, you'll want to try any finishes on a couple of scraps. But I did an oil/shellac finish as per Tage Frid (may he RIP) called 4F (Frid's Fast, Fine Finish). See Volume 2, pg. 188 of his basic series. It entails flooding the wood with Danish oil, followed up by shellac, steel wooling it when it gets tacky and rubbing it out. I ended up doing a 400 grit wet sand with more oil as a final. Silky smooth without the "plastic" feel of polyurethane. It doesn't shange the color of the wood and really brings out the grain. You'll have to experiment with matching the ply to the solid.
My $0.02 worth, Ian
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Personally, I like orange shellac. Here are some pictues of some solid and burl veneer with a few coats http://musial.ws/VeneeredDrawer.htm
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Axetually, the more I think about it, it has a coat of BLO and then the orange shellac.
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