How would You finish this? Novice needs advice

Confusion, then Indicision and now dispair. Stain, Dye, fill the grain, wipe on or spray. Too many options and not enough experience. None actually as this is a first project. I built the Craftsman style bed from Wood Magazine a couple months ago but instead of quarter sawed white oak I used plain sawed red oak as that's what I had. Reading books and internet searches have multiplied my morosity with conflicting information and unlimited options. So, with the caveits that I am not fond of really 'dark finishes' and that it's a BIG project, how would YOU finish this bed? Dye, Stain, Sealer, Fill the grain, enhance the grain, poly, shellac, varnish, gloss, satin?????? Oh yeah, one more thing is that there is a little color variation in the oak. Some darker and lighter shades.. Looking forward to suggestions and thanks for your time. Everyone have a great Thanksgiving. Mike in Arkansas
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Minwax Provincial Stain with a top coat of your choice.
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Oak stains well without too much problem. Pigment stains will highlight the grain contrast, dye will tend to minimize it. Much of how you proceed should be based on personal preference taking into consideration how it will look with other furniture in the room.
For myself I'd probably use a dark brown pigment stain then apply a very dark glaze to darken the pore holes, followed two or three coats of a decent satin wipe-on varnish, such as Waterlox. I like the look of dark-stained unfilled matte finished oak.
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On 25 Nov 2004 04:54:10 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (JMWEBER987) wrote:

If you like the color of red oak, I find Minwax Ipswitch Pine works well for pulling different shades of red oak boards together. It won't do much to the darker boards, but it will darken the lighter wood. In fact, I've used it to make non-oak trim and doors go really well with clear coated natural red oak trim and flooring.
Clear coat it with shellac, a good varnish like Pratt & Lambert, McCloskey's Gymseal, or Waterlox Original. Apply them with a foam brush and rub them out with 320 between coats. A coat of Zinnser Seal Coat dewaxed shellac after the stain will keep the finish coat from reconstituting the stain and moving it around. Want a satin finish? Build coats with gloss finishes, using satin only for the last coat. The flattening agent in non-gloss finishes can cloud a finish.
I don't like some Minwax products, but this product in this application works well. Red oak takes stains beautifully.
A few suggestions:
1.) Practice on scrap! Do the same steps from sanding, staining, clear coats, rubbing, etc... on a scrap left over from the project. Write each step on the back of the board. Having the steps written down accomplishes several goals. First, you can duplicate success. Second, if the finish goes awry, you have a record to retrace and seek assistance as to where things went wrong. Last, this is the place to decide you don't like the color, gloss is better than satin, etc... 2.) Ignore stain manufacturer's color names. It's OK to use a stain color called "pine" on oak. <G> 3.) Have fun! 4.) Reread #1
Barry
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On Thu, 25 Nov 2004 12:00:22 GMT, Ba r r y

One clarification:
By "scrap", I mean a decent sized piece of wood. 6-8" x 12" would be a minimum. Work the end grain as well. The goal is no surprises on your hard worked piece.
Judging a finish is tough on a 1"x1"x2" cutoff, or a 1 1/2" section of leg. <G>
Barry
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Mike,
I think Barry gave you the best advice here, considering your experience level and color preference. Oak doesn't color well naturally over time as some other woods do, so I do suggest staining it. They even sell natural or honey oak which is barely a color at all. The Ipswitch is a bit warmer color reddish/orangey.
The foam brush is a great idea. It will really help you get a flat finish. Read up on what they call "tipping" on the web. This is the process of using a brush and having the last stroke be a very light pass with the brush perpendicular to the finished surface and just using the the very tip of the brush to flatten out the film. It works really great and is almost a necessity if you use varnish which tends to get real thready when you brush it.
You can get premixed shellac at Home Depot (Zinnser) and just thin it down a bit more with alcohol. Make sure to get the clear not the orange. It is a good step and real easy to work with.
You could also go to a wipe on poly over that to avoid any mistakes with the brush. It just takes more coats to build it up. I've even done wipe on shellac. If you do lots of coats and steel wool it down flat, then wax it you can get a great finish.
I would not fill the grain. This is not a first timer process and certainly not on something as big as a bed. What you can do though is use black wax once your done and it will lodge in the grain and really make the contrast pop, as long as you don't build up the finish to much so the grain is filled with plastic. Oak is a real coarse grain. Don't try to flatten it with the finish or you will have way to much on their. Just leave it so you can still feel the grain. It's wood and it feels great like that.
(JMWEBER987) wrote:

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Of course it all depends on where it is going and what you want out of it; but in general, I like Zar "Golden Oak" with wipe on varnish for red oak.
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@aol.com says...

Not liking dark finishes is fine. Staining is NOT a required finishing step.
It's a bed which pretty much sits in one place and isn't subject to much spilling or actual contact with the wood.
Use a natural Danish oil on it. It'll darken the tone of the bed a bit but not color it. It will provide sufficient protection for the bed. You don't have to worry about filling the pores. It is easy to apply. Renewing the finish if it becomes necessary if it ever needs it. Just apply a fresh coat of oil. Above all it will look great.
A coat or three of a good paste wax every once a year or two will help also.
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says...

Thanks to all for your input, it's much appreciated. Can't wait to get back home from the Holiday at my son's house to get back to work on it. Have only the rails left to do but have to face laminate some boards to get the required width(1 1/4 inches). Have some good looking boards set aside for that. Then it's sanding, glue up and finishing. Any other opinions on finishing I would be glad to hear. Even if the confusion and indicision are unabated at least the morosity is :). Hope all are having a great Thanksgiving. Mike in Arkansas
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On 25 Nov 2004 04:54:10 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (JMWEBER987) calmly ranted:

I'd fume it with 26% ammonia (available for $8/gal at surveying supply stores nationwide, which should cover maybe 1,000 bf of wood) and wax it with dark wax, making sure to buff and clean the pores. I happen to LIKE open pores, TYVM. They let oak look and feel woodgrainy like oak should.
I have the wood (rift-sawn red oak, as there was no white QS oak in town at all and they wanted $7/bf to order it in Medford. I can have 100bf sent down from Portland for $4.50/bf when the crowbars return home after the winter) for a dictionary stand now and will be doing that project shortly, to be finished as stated. (Or fumed, Waterloxed, and waxed, depending on how the samples look.)
I like satin finishes so I degloss Waterlox with 0000 steel wool and paste wax. I abhor poly, so it doesn't come in my home. (Ditto tobacco and alcohol. Cussing and women are another story altogether. Gotta have -some- vices, wot?)
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(JMWEBER987) calmly

I know that originally the Craftsman Style furniture was finished with fuming but not sure what that does to the wood. What would it do to the red oak? Mike in Arkansas
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Mike in Arkansas) wrote in

Rumour has it that fuming and red oak are not a good idea. Google the archives, but I recall reading that it turns the wood a greenish hue. Since I build a few things in red oak, that caught my eye.
You can do some nice things with dye stains, however. www.homesteadfinishing.com
Patriarch
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@aol.com says...

The late 19th century English Arts and Crafts craze, kind of D.I.Y. reaction to the machine age, had wood from old barns being used because it was available and cheap. The wood, usually oak, exposed too years, if not centuries, of the tannin in the wood reacting too ammonia fumes from animal urine turned grey or black.
The supply of such wood was finite and the practice of fuming oak was born to supplement the supply.
When Sticley developed his "Mission" style off shoot of the Arts and Crafts furniture and put it on a production basis he pretty much dropped the fumed look for economic reasons.
Arts and Crafts/Mission style is more a philosophical statement the it is a style and, unless you are doing an actual reproduction of a certain piece, there are no real rules but more general guide lines, slats, exposed tenons, etc. Follow the general guide lines and you can do pretty much what you want and still have an A&C/Mission piece.
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On 25 Nov 2004 19:04:50 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Mike in Arkansas) calmly ranted:

It darkens it depending on how long it's left in the tent. 8 hours is light brown, 36 hours is very dark brown. The tannin in the wood reacts to the ammonia fumes and darkens. The wax on top evens it out and provides a bit more moisture barrier while letting you feel the warmth of the real wood.
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Larry Jaques wrote:

So there's some gooooooooooooooooooooooorgeous chick sitting in your home butt nekkit, with a beer in one hand and a Marlboro in the other. You throw her out, right?
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At least half an hour before the wife and kids get home, yes.
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On Sat, 27 Nov 2004 10:51:37 -0500, Silvan

No, I'd toss the cigs, let her finish her beer, toss it out, make her brush her teeth, then allow her to take advantage of me. <ww,nn,kwim?>
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calmly ranted:

He didn't say anything about her having teeth...
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On Sat, 04 Dec 2004 13:41:00 GMT, "Mike Marlow"

Excuse me. Brush her gums/gargle (whatever, it's imperative that she get that beer stink off her some way.)
I had a girlfriend once who had a false upper plate. Surprisingly, I found that I preferred her with her teeth IN at those special times.
Then there was the old druggie joke about the perfect girl: She's about yea high (holding hand palm down about belt height), no teeth, and has a flat spot on the top of her head to hold your beer. Then at midnight, POOF! She turns into a 6-pack and a gram of coke.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (JMWEBER987) wrote in message

Since you mention that you don't like the dark finishes, I'd skip out of the business of stain/dye/fuming and pore filling altogether. Try out an oil/varnish mix. There are various mixtures of 1/3 varnish, 1/3 turpentine, 1/3 linseed or tung oil. You can buy such brands commercially premixed. There are probably dozens of them, but the one I've used is called Minwax Antique Oil finish. Three wiped on and then buffed off coats make an easy, good looking, and reasonably durable finish. Let it fully harden for a few days, then rub the nubs off with the finest pad you can find, and then give it a coat of furniture wax.
Lots of folks here swear by Waterlox. It's also a blend of varnish, tung oil, and solvent. I've been wanting to give it a try.
As others said, be sure you test it on scrap wood first.
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