Question on mixing stains w/poly

Hello. I'm refinishing a piece to act as a TV stand in the livingroom. It's a mid centuryish looking piece, Danish modern lines, veneer, darker wood that I'm guessing is black walnut based on some grayer tones that showed up when I carefully sanded it.
Okay, not being an experienced woodworker of any sort, I have to rely on researching the heck out of things before I do them. On this question I came up without much help. My first thought going in was that I would sand the piece, get light wood and just poly it so it would match my blonde kidney shaped coffee table. Oops. The wood had different characteristics. Hmmmm. Next step was to experiment with different wood bleaching techniques using an inner shelf that wouldn't matter if it was ruined. I got a varying shades of light gray veneered shelf (I sectioned off the shelf for the various techniques). Not the desired result at all.
My final idea to get something close to what I'd like is this: A coat of clear polyurethane, let it dry, fine sanding, followed by a mixture of pickling stain, a drop or two of red stain (to get the slight warmth in blonde wood), and clear polyurethane to retain the transparency necessary to let the grain show through. Keeping in mind that I'm aware of the need to use all like products (meaning all oil-based in this case) has anyone got any technical reasons this is a no-go before I move on?
One final thing. Some might wonder why I don't mix the stains THEN poly, like normal people do. :-) Tried that already, and what happens is the pickling stain pigment settles in the pores of the wood like chalk. Very unattractive. I'm starting with an initial coat of poly in order to seal the pores up.
Carmen
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Replace the first coat of polyurethane with Zinnser Seal Coat, tested on scrap, a you'd be on your way to your first multi-dimensional finish! <G> Seal Coat is a universal sealer that will ensure a good bond between layers. There is a remote chance that your stain (kind of a "toner" when used in your example), and the next top coat may not properly bond to the first coat of polyurethane.

Normal people do, but many pros don't.
Many many gorgeous finishes are created one layer at a time. You've stumbled on some well-known advanced techniques. Congratulations for experimenting! I'll bet you'll get the exact look you seek.
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B A R R Y wrote:

Well, the experiment has been done now, and the result is pretty. It isn't quite what I was going for, but it *is* something I'll use in the future. It's probably best to do with a spray apparatus. The pigment from the pickling stain likes to "settle" (don't know if there's a specific word for that behavior in this context) at the edge of brush strokes, so it gets extra fussy. I really appreciate your help Barry. Thank you. :-)
Carmen
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Carmen wrote:

I don't know what brand of stains you're using, but that might be an issue. Some of the better quality stains (H. Behlen, Mohawk, etc...) dry very quickly and are easier to apply evenly. With those, you wipe on some stain over the dried Seal Coat with a rag, and use a dry china bristle paint brush to quickly even it out by brushing with the grain until it dries. If you screw up, you simply wipe it off with mineral spirits, which won't affect the shellac, and try again.

I'm glad you found the information useful, that always makes it worth typing.
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