While trying to match nearly 100 year old red oak, I came up with the
following recipe for new red oak:
- Sand to 150
- Dye with Medium Wheat Solar Lux
- Wipe on Minwax English Chestnut pigment stain (I used an old
athletic sock), immediately wipe off extra.
- Seal with Zinnser Seal Coat, tinted w/ 1 drop. per 2 oz. of
Transtint "Amber Additive" dye
- De-junk with a _light_ 320 grit scuffing under a hard cork block.
- Clear coat with your favorite stuff ( I used NC lacquer here)
What a nice look!
The Solar Lux really warms the undertones and this is actually a
really nice Minwax shade.
How did you come up with this procedure. Do you usually use the same
four finishes (dye, stain, tinted shellac, clear coat) and then you
experiment with the color of each step? Or did you pick these four
finishes for a particular reason; knowing from experience how each one
contributes to simulating the 100 year old finish?
It depends on the desired look. I normally like clear finishes,
possibly with a tinted shellac sealer coat, on new work where the wood
has been carefully chosen This case is an addition to a 100 year old
staircase, and we don't want to wait 100 years for it to blend in.
As far as the procedure, think of this in parts:
- Dyes soak in and change the overall color of the wood. Sometimes,
they can be used to pop figure as well. In this case, Medium Wheat
Solar Lux got me in the ballpark of aged red oak.
- Dewaxed shellac is a universal barrier to prevent ingredients from
interacting, and even provide an "undo" to a certain extent. It can
also be a very effective medium to tint, as it's very easy to apply and
remove, takes tints well, goes under or over just about anything, sands
well, and dries very quickly.
- Pigment stain lodges in the pores, but wipe off the smooth areas.
This particular pigment stain includes some dye, but I didn't allow much
of a soak-in period, so only a touch of the dye penetrated.
- Clear coats protect, seal, and can be tinted, if a minor change is
In reality, all are optional to some extent.
I used two color wheels, one is a standard Statler from the local
Staples, the other is a "Wood Finisher's" color wheel, most easily
obtained at Woodcraft or Highland Woodworking. I used the wheels to
decide what the best base color to start with on the smooth areas, and
what pigment to use based on what's in the pores. I also looked at
existing parts (mainly the bottoms, looking for missed spots) to try to
determine how the clear finishes have "ambered" over the years.
After the above is done, I take some samples of the wood used to make
the new parts, properly sand or scrape, and otherwise prepare for it a
finish in the same method as the keeper parts, and do some samples.
I'll start small, maybe deck of card sized, often using both sides of
the board with different colors, until I'm in the ballpark.
Once the base is established, I'll make another board that's completely
dyed. This board will get stripes of pigment stain that are in the
ballpark. Next, I make a board with the dye & pigment I've chosen,
apply varying tints of shellac, followed by a quickie spray of the
finish clear coat. As I get to where I want to be, I'll make a good
sized panel that will give a true picture of what I'll have, and look at
it in varying lights.
All of this takes far less time than it sounds, as I don't always give
standard dry time before moving on. When I'm seeking a color, I'll
often use a blow dryer to force dry the finish and spray clear coats
from spray cans. These finishes will sometimes crack and fail in a few
days, but we're only looking for color, so I don't care. <G>
Important techniques involved in all of this are note-taking and
consistent application and fluid measurement (ex:// drops per oz.)
So, experience will speed the process, but how did I learn this?
The dye (or oil) / shellac / pigment / shellac / glaze / toner / clear /
rubbing out, etc... came from a local weekend hands-on finishing class.
The complex matching was learned at a local community college art
department color theory course, and I focused on browns. <G>
I think I paid ~ $300 for the hands-on class with Teri Masachi, and ~
$200 for the art course. I also read everything I can get my hands on
by Jeff Jewitt, Bob Flexner, Mike Dresdner, and Teri. Most of the
better finishing books contain instructions for making striped stain
test boards. Panels with different glosses are nice to have, as well.
The hands-on class made the reading make much more sense.
Jeff Jewitt has some excellent finish recipies on the
Homesteadfinishing.com site that are well worth trying out during an
enjoyable weekend in the shop. By trying them, you can see how each
step changes the final look.
Play! Have some fun & build confidence. Most of us have lots of
suitable scraps. The finish is the part the "civilians" see in our work.
I guess I'm showing my stuff as a rank, uneducated amateur (30 years), but
I've had pretty good luck with MinWax. I do use other products but MinWax
oil-based stains and finishes usually do the job well.
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