What cheap wood will look good stained dark?

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The wood furniture in our living room is all dark. A very old mahogany desk, a very old cherry table, and a dark piano of unknown wood. (I am going to guess mahogany with a tinted laquer) Two years ago I made a mahogany coffee table and stained it to match the desk.
Now my wife wants a couch; wood frame with cushions. We talked about the wood. Apparently grain means nothing to her; she just want it about as dark as the mahogany pieces.
There doesn't seem to be any point to spending money on more mahogany if she can't tell the difference. I though maybe beech because it is cheap. Will I have any problem getting it dark, or does it spotch like maple? Maybe birch? A bit more expensive, but more interesting grain. Whatcha think?
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Toller wrote:

I think you should use tinted clear coats and enjoy a dark and splotch-free item.
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I settled on sycamore because it has interesting grain; I thought some of that would come through the dark finish. It is all cut and ready to assemble, so I was trying out some finishes. Sycamore slotches more than any wood I have ever used; way more.
Your tinted clear coat is sounding attractive. How do I go about that? I have some dark red and dark brown powered dye made to be added to water. Could it be added to water based varnish?
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The simple way is to add Trans-Tint dyes to sprayed shellac (Seal Coat). Sneak up on the color, and clear coat with your preferred product.
If you're comfortable with lacquer, swap Solar-Lux for TT, and add it to sprayed lacquer. Again, sneak up on the desired color.
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wrote:

Yellow poplar?
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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I'd go with poplar. It's cheap, strong and will take dark stain really well.
-- "We need to make a sacrifice to the gods, find me a young virgin... oh, and bring something to kill"
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
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[...]. grain means nothing to her; she just want it about as dark

Aren't there far eastern species which resemble mahog but aren't? Otherwise you may as well paint it, faux bois - used to be very fashionable.
Tim w
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Toller,
My first thought would be to use Philippine Mahogany. I happen to like the rather 'blank' grain structure - the 'Work' gets the attention, not the 'Wood'. Also, I like the 'semi-dark' color that appears with just Varnish. However, a rubdown with 'Bombay Mahogany' will get you even deeper.
If you REALLY want to go 'cheap' . . . try regular Pine. Recently Joanne wanted me to re-do a window shelf I had put in the kitchen about 20+ years ago. I had just fitted & 'thrown up' this 8in shelf to cover the existing narrow sill, so she could set out some plants. Slapped some brown paint on it, and 'Bob's your uncle'.
Since then, we've done a lot of things to the kitchen, and now * we're * involved in a pretty good make-over. Anyhow she wanted me to match the chair rails that I made to match the Maple top of a drawed 'Potato Storage Cabinet'. Didn't want to go for that much Maple - yet - ' . . . just make it match, for now . .'. Long story short . . . coats & of 'Antique Maple' stain wouldn't do it. Sanded it all off & started again . . . with a coat of GEL Mahogany to start. After that only needed a couple of coats of the Maple. Of course, to me it looks like 'Red Mahogany' - no where as light as the Maple top - matches the tone of the 'aged' chair rail - but it looks great and she likes it !!
It just may be the color / semi-darkness you are looking for.
Regards & Good Luck, Ron Magen Backyard Boatshop {PS - recommend Water-Based Poly as an overcoat. Goes on really easy, quick rinse clean-up, and hard-as-nails result}

dark
SNIP
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If grain means nothing to her, than I would go with poplar and use a dark paint NOT stain.
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Use ebony and you can eliminate that step completely.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

There goes "cheap". :)
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dadiOH
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Oak, ebonized by wiping down with a solution of steel wool steeped in vinegar for several days.
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I vote for gray elm. A dark stain really brings out the beautiful grain. It takes a stain easily and is much more stable than the more common red elm. Plus, it's cheap and durable.
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Dunno your area... On the west coast, about the cheapest is pine..
Soft wood but the make water bed frames out of it, so it should be strong enough.. Takes stain well, the darker the better... Everyone here over 40 probably had a cheap pine water bed stained dark walnut once, right?
mac
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mac davis wrote:

Had?
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Russ

"Praise Jebus!" - H. J. Simpson
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Yeah, ours is down in the basement taking up room. Can't even give it away.
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Mine, from a previous life/marriage, is in the guest room with a box spring & mattress in it.. I did refinish it with rosewood gel stain to match the rest of the "furniture", though...
mac
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Use the wood!
I've received 4 or 5 water bed frames over the years and love that 2" thick pine... Great shelves, etc...
I've also turned platters from the head and foot boards .. lol
mac
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wrote:

a friend of mine went to yard sales where one can usually, at the end of the day, get water beds for free, and bought a bunch of them. he built a shed out of them after planing them down to get rid of the stain and finish.
regards, charlie http://glassartists.org/chaniarts
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I feel your pain. :) My wife is the same way. I'll bet some of these phrases are familiar:
    Umm, that's not dark enough.
    Can't you make it any darker?
    Will another coat make it darker?

As others have mentioned--poplar. At least around where I am, poplar is fairly inexpensive per board foot.
Also, what you may find helpful to getting things dark without driving yourself nuts in the process--spray it. Until I recently got an inexpensive HVLP rig[1], I just could not make anything dark enough to appease the princess of darkness. :) I've since used this HVLP system to spray a couple of different types of finishes and was able to get things satisfactory for SWMBO. The first thing I did with it that worked well was using Zinsser SealCoat wax-free shellac. Initially I sprayed it on plain, and then for subsequent coats I added some dye to the shellac to get the proper coloring. For another project, I sprayed some Minwax Polyshades Bombay Mahogany on a chair that turned out nice. In both cases, spraying both the shellac and stain/polyurethane I was able to get decent results and sufficient darkness. What's also been interesting for me, is that I've had no luck at all using either of the aforementioned products in either a wiping or brushing fashion. But when I spray them, I get results that I like.
[1]: http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber772
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